With just three weeks until the actual election, anything could happen, especially since 2016 has been such an insane year. But with Hillary Clinton leading in the polls, it’s worth looking at what the landscape would look like if she does win the presidency.
While Clinton’s GOP opponent Donald Trump battles allegations of sexual impropriety, Clinton is battling her own demons: The constant stream of private emails shared with the world by Wikileaks.
Trump’s current campaign crisis is his own making, as he is constantly out on the campaign trail disparaging the women who have accused him of sexual assault and claiming the election is being “rigged” against him. If he were to talk about the issues or quiet down, the focus would have to be on the Wikileaks revelations.
Politico’s Annie Karni and Glenn Thrush posted an article Sunday evening about the final couple of weeks of the Clinton campaign, which were supposed to be a “happy time” as she prepared to become the first female U.S. president. Instead, the final days have been much more strenuous thanks to Wikileaks.
Clinton’s aides are stressed about the hacked emails drawing attention away from Trump. Bill Clinton is allegedly “having a hard time” with the old sexual assault accusations coming back (an aide told Politico this was not exactly true). Chelsea Clinton was apparently “hurt” that campaign chair John Podesta didn’t defend her when a close aide to her father, Doug Band, called her a “spoiled brat kid” (again, an aide told Politico this wasn’t the case). Hillary herself is supposedly “pissed” about the leaks.
“Gossip from the emails is also damaging important relationships with donors and surrogates outside the bunker,” Karni and Thrush wrote. “Longtime Clinton fundraiser Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, multiple sources said, has been furious to find herself lampooned internally by loyal Clinton hands, and has been complaining to the campaign about her treatment after years of loyalty to the Clintons.”
Further, they wrote, the emails “pose a more immediate psychological threat” to Democrats.
“Key allies are filled with anxiety about their personal, and often blunt, assessments — of Democratic allies and the candidate herself — being exposed in the email hack,” the two wrote.
All of this may be causing a problem now, but what happens if Clinton wins?
I think there’s a much bigger story about how damaged Clinton is heading into the White House with these revelations and her other scandals.
Despite a win, it looks like the Democratic Party may be divided (not more than the GOP, for sure, but still damaged) heading into 2017 and beyond. If donors and aides are upset about their portrayal in the emails, that could provide tension for a Clinton administration trying to work with liberal groups, who can be expected to remain furious over the way the DNC clearly orchestrated the defeat of Bernie Sanders.
I wrote last week about the first couple batches of Podesta emails and what they showed about Clinton’s email scandal. I was clearly too early with the article, because on Monday, emails released by the FBI revealed a “quid pro quo” deal between Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy and the Bureau to keep some emails from being marked as classified in order to protect Clinton.
Wikileaks also showed how the Democratic primary was rigged in favor of Clinton. These revelations led to the ouster of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation. Her interim replacement, Donna Brazile, was apparently no better, as she was also giving the Clinton campaign information that could hurt her primary opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Other revelations from Wikileaks revealed the media’s cozy relationship with the Clinton campaign, allowing staffers to veto quotes and give the go ahead for stories. All of these emails have helped prove what Americans already suspected of Clinton: She’s untrustworthy.
There may, however, be one good thing that comes from this. People already trust the press very little, and that is unlikely to change after the Wikileaks emails revealing news outlets in the tank for Clinton. Perhaps – and I write this thinking there is only the slimmest chance of it actually happening – the media will actually work to cover a Clinton administration critically in a way it never did with the Obama administration.
Any positive article – or any article dismissive of her scandals – written about Clinton if she wins the White House will be viewed under a new kind of microscope following the hacked emails. People will be upset about media bias in a whole new way – before it was merely the belief that bias existed, now there is incontrovertible proof.
This may – may – force the media to at least attempt to be neutral or critical. Or the opposite could occur. The media could just shrug and continue with softball interviews and syrupy profiles about the first woman president.
But that’s the media. Clinton is one of the most disliked politicians in modern history, second only to Donald Trump. If she takes the White House, she will not enjoy any of the popularity or political capital that President Barack Obama had when he took the office. It also looks like Republicans will keep the House of Representatives and keep the senate closely divided (Clinton certainly won’t have 60+ Democratic senators). She won’t be able to pass her agenda the way Obama was, and the American people will likely dislike her more for failing to deliver campaign promises (though the media will blame Republicans).
A President Clinton will be damaged from all sides – from Sanders supporters upset by a rigged election, Democrat loyalists mocked behind their backs, and from nearly every Republican. She may end up being the weakest president in modern history.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.