Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Has WikiLeaks Proven that Hillary Clinton's Speeches Were Cool After All?

There are other shoes to drop, to be sure, but what we've seen so far is that Hillary rolls like a politician and is pretty good at it. What a surprise!

Rolling Stone liked your first album a lot, but your recent tracks suck. What gives?

I can imagine why Julian Assange thought people would find his anti-Hillary leaks "substantial." They were somewhat, but not in the way he anticipated. The John Podesta emails, which contain or appear to contain sections of Clinton's lusted-after Wall Street speeches, were meant to damage her campaign, timed as they were to arrive on the Friday before the second debate. Sorry, Jules, so far it's the opposite.

Sure, the lazy MSM take some remarks out of context and, briefly, some things Hillary said -- like her public-stance/private-stance segment -- look untoward. However, few commentators have been able to spin them into meat sufficiently red enough to excite the rabid, right-wing masses. So, meh.

In surfing through Greg Dworkin's Daily Kos feature, Abbreviated Pundit Round-Up, this morning I spotted a link to a very illuminating Tweetstorm from @FamesJallows (an odd twist on the James Fallows, the brilliant Atlantic writier). He's a random guy as far as I've been able to discern, but he's a clear thinker and analyst, especially on the Hillary speeches:

(Sorry about the double-Tweet effect. I think I could have split them, but it's too much trouble now. Just read the top one as you go down.)

Those last two Tweets are essential: Hillary Clinton reveals that she gets how Congressional "sausage" is made and uses Lincoln's behind-the-scenes manipulations in getting the 13th Amendment passed by a resistant Congress as an example of public/private negotiations as a force for good.

This should demonstrate a good aspect of Clinton's character and political skills. She's ready to work with Congress on day one. Whether Congress will be is an open question (guess the answer...).

Note. To read the excerpt of the speech in question, go here. Now, the link is to an article by Aaron Blake of the Washington Post. The article itself, with its "Why Hillary Clinton’s Abraham Lincoln defense of her leaked Wall Street comments falls flat" headline, demonstrates how even relatively astute journalists can misread and then mischaracterize someone's remarks and thereby do real damage to the truth. Let's dig down a little here.

First, Hillary describes how Lincoln maneuvered to get the 13th Amendment through Congress, and then pivots to comparing that to how financiers and developers might go through a process, through maneuvers, to evaluate and further a project they might want to undertake.
CLINTON: I believe in evidence-based decision making. I want to know what the facts are. I mean, it's like when you guys go into some kind of a deal, you know, are you going to do that development or not, are you going to do that renovation or not, you know, you look at the numbers. You try to figure out what's going to work and what's not going to work.
Blake then criticizes that, incorrectly:
But it's one thing to use that kind of gamesmanship to pass an amendment outlawing slavery; it's another to use it when describing policies that affect big business. Clinton has already stood accused of being too cozy with Wall Street -- a characterization she disputes -- and she's now on-record telling the business community that, in order to get things done, sometimes you need to have a public position and a private position.
See what he did there? Clinton wasn't talking about trying to get something through Congress that would affect big business, she was describing a process in the business world that is similar to the sausage-making of the legislative process. A businessman might not show all his cards at the beginning of a negotiation -- in fact, doing so might doom him to failure. That's all she was doing, which was making a legislative process analogous to a business negotiation so that she'd be better understood. That's good speechifying, not an example of her being "too cozy with Wall Street."

I'm not suggesting that Blake was being disingenuous -- though he, too, is using words to prove his point -- I'm just showing how shoddy journalism can lead to a faulty argument, which in this case even made it past his editor. The paper should issue a correction, even perhaps an apology, but don't hold your breath.

All in all, Hillary Clinton comes out looking good here, and a journalist covering her does not. Remember this when others decontextualize remarks and then recharacterize them to make an invalid point, especially about Hillary Clinton. To be blunt, she's generally smarter than you -- and me, too, of course. Yes, she's a politician and occasionally exaggerates and stretches the truth, though it's pretty obvious to objective viewers she's much better than most.

Here, she looks good indeed.

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