Yes, I voted for Donald Trump. When people confront me and ask me why, I sort of shuffle off, head down, while muttering something about how “he wasn’t the war candidate.”
I even stuck with Trump until he launched cruise missiles at an airbase in Syria and overnight became the establishment favorite, with all the media and most politicians singing his praises for attacking a country with which the United States was not at war over an alleged atrocity that did not involve Americans—and could easily have been attributed to the terrorists that Damascus has been fighting. And then he did it again, using fighter bomber aircraft to attack a column of Syrian government-affiliated militiamen who were allegedly approaching and thereby threatening a position inside Syria where U.S.-supported “good” insurgents, accompanied by American advisers, were apparently hunkered down.
Someone should take out a map and show Trump where Syria is and outline its borders while explaining what “sovereign territory” is supposed to mean. If he could grasp the concept, possibly by relating it to Mexico, it just might suggest to him that we Yanks could actually be foreign invaders who have crossed a national border and are killing local people in gross violation of international law.
And then there is the foreign-policy finesse exhibited on his recent World Tour. It began with his predictable slobbering all over the Saudis and Israelis before stiffing the Palestinians. But then he elevated his game by angering the Pope, whining to the Germans because there are no Chevys on the streets of Berlin, pushing his way past the Montenegran Prime Minister and, finally, insisting on riding in a golf cart and arriving late to the photo-op ending the G7 meeting in Sicily while everyone else walked the 700 yards. His boorishness manifests itself as a nearly complete unwillingness to make even the smallest gesture that would ease the relations with other countries and leaders who are important U.S. partners. I guess he sees doing so as a sign of weakness. Class act all the way, Donald!
But then again, when I am really down on Trump and what he is doing or not doing, I think of Hillary Rodham Clinton. A good friend of mine Joe Lauria, formerly a Wall Street Journal correspondent, has recently introduced, edited, and provided extensive commentary for a book entitled How I Lost By Hillary Clinton. It is an indictment of the Clinton campaign “in her own words” and includes a foreword by Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, who discusses the leaks of Democratic National Committee (DNC) and John Podesta emails that together provide much of the material included in the text.
Lauria uses the source material to describe the Clinton campaign using her own speeches as well as the leaked emails of her close associates, and it really is refreshing to revisit what made the “inevitable” Hillary so unappealing, particularly as she is now trying to rebrand herself without assuming any serious blame for her shortcomings as a candidate. Along the way, documents reveal the road to Russiagate and Clinton’s plans for more regime change, as well as expose corruption within the nominally “neutral” DNC, the latter of which led to the deliberate sabotage of the campaign of Bernie Sanders and the de facto anointment of Clinton as president-apparent.
The book is organized around two central themes, Hillary as an elitist and Hillary as a hawk. In his introduction, Lauria describes Clinton as “an economic and political elitist and a foreign-policy hawk divorced from the serious concerns of ordinary Americans—the very people she needed to vote for her.” It is a fair assessment and in his introduction Joe also takes aim at Russiagate among other targets, asking why, after more than a year of investigation and assessment, there has been no National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the alleged interference by Moscow in the U.S. election. NIEs are meticulously prepared to provide detailed analysis of an issue, to include sourcing and reliability assessments. They are carefully crafted products of the entire intelligence community and they include dissenting opinions. That there has been no NIE on Russiagate is unfathomable, unless of course such a report would reveal that Russiagate is itself a complete fabrication.
Lauria particularly assails Clinton foreign policy, describing her as a neoliberal interventionist who was the principal driving force behind a series of U.S.-led actions that turned Libya into a failed state while she was also urging tough action against Russia and yet another regime change in Syria. Joe notes that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were arming terrorists in Syria on her watch, which she was aware of from DIA reporting, while also contributing generously to the Clinton Foundation, which notoriously intermingled its ostensibly humanitarian programs together with the political activities of Hillary and Bill. And the Foundation also rewarded the Clintons directly through generous salaries and substantial perks for the whole family, to include foundation-funded travel on executive jets, which totaled $12 million in 2011 alone.
The Clinton sense of entitlement knew no limits, with Bill once accepting a $1 million birthday present from Qatar, the principal funder of al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra. Citing email evidence, the book documents how major foreign donors to the foundation were able to enjoy special access to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hillary’s closest associate Huma Abedin was point person for much of the activity and was paid a $105,000 salary by the State Department, plus an undisclosed amount by a consulting firm linked to the foundation, a double dip arrangement of questionable legality.
Between April 2013 and March 2015, Hillary Clinton gave 91 speeches and earned over $21 million. The three speeches for Goldman-Sachs that she made during that time, for which she was paid $675,000, are the best known, mostly because soon-to-be candidate Clinton refused to release the transcripts. But she also spoke to just about any group who would pay her upwards of a $200,000 fee plus expenses. This included several public universities. In her speeches, she sometimes complained about how awful it was that many Americans had begun to look down on those who have a lot of money, including a comment to Goldman Sachs that “there is such a bias against people who have led successful and/or complicated lives.” She was referring to herself and Bill.
It was rare that Hillary’s mask would drop and she would say what she really thought, though it did happen sometimes. A speech at an LGBT fundraiser in New York included the now infamous line: “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it…they are irredeemable but thankfully they are not America.” Or at least not an America that she would recognize.
Hillary’s speeches and the emails of Podesta and her staff are quoted in extenso in the text and appendices. The most enduring impression is how boring most of what she said really was. Her political experience enabled her to say what her audience wanted to hear—no more, no less. She rarely spoke of actual policy in concrete terms and, for example, when speaking to Goldman Sachs, she was instead full of platitudes and generic praise for the “American way” of democracy promotion combined with good, solid, liberal, and free-market values. She included how the financial-services industry is in the forefront of all the positive changes taking place worldwide. There was nary a critical word about the role of the largely unregulated and predatory big banks in the great crash of 2008, and when she spoke of the suffering caused by that disaster, she was referring to the disruptions experienced by those in financial services and government who were made uncomfortable by being forced to respond to the crisis.
As Joe Lauria observes, Clinton’s failure was clearly her inability to comprehend what many mostly white working-class people in the United States were experiencing. Her failure to see or understand inevitably became an inability to empathize with such audiences verbally in a way that would appear to be sincere. She came across as leaden and scripted. Her speeches increasingly became sustained attacks on Trump the man and his admittedly flawed personality, combined with appeals to women to vote for her purely because of her own gender. Her campaign was singularly lacking in any formula for addressing the real problems experienced by many in the country.
Speaking to bankers and other elitists from the Washington-New York axis and Hollywood was a lot easier for Hillary because she was, after all, one of them. She avoided campaign visits to working-class constituencies. And she compounded that with a bellicose world view that considered Washington’s ambition to become some kind of benign but resolute global hegemon as both quite practical from a resources point of view and also the right thing to do, something that most Americans failed to relate to as a high priority.
So Hillary portrayed largely in her own words is well worth a read. Unfortunately for our country, there are a lot of Hillary clones still out there who have not learned the lesson of her defeat. Fortunately for conservatives, quite a few of them are still in charge of the Democratic Party.
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.