This past Friday, two major leaks revealed why we need a three-party or multi-party system in These States, and they also demonstrated that, no matter who wins this election, we Americans lose.
Donald Trump was caught on tape talking to celebrity-interviewer Billy Bush while at a taping for a cameo appearance on a soap opera in which he revealed his modus operandi toward beautiful women. This is what he said:
"I'm automatically attracted to beautiful women - I just start kissing them, it's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab 'em by the p****."
The Trumpster could have stopped there - and he should have - but, no, he went further, going on about how he tried to seduce a married woman:
"I moved on her actually, she was down in Palm Beach and I failed. I'll admit it. I did try to f*** her, she was married . . . and I moved on her very heavily. I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture and I told her 'I'll show you where you can get some nice furniture.' I moved on her like a bitch, and I could not get there, and she was married. And all the sudden I see her and she's got the big phony [breasts], she's totally changed her look."
Needless to say, the Trump campaign is in free-fall. Damage control has been swift but not effective. Trump himself apologized immediately in a written statement then followed up with a videotape apology, but no one is in a forgiving mood. Also, his insistence that Bill Clinton has said worse about women - funny how he picks his election opponent's husband, out of the all the womanizers in politics he could have chosen, as a comparison - does him no favors; downplaying his own guilt by citing a similarly guilty person is a sleazy mind trick out of Richard Nixon's playbook.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange finally presented his October surprise - or at least the first part of it - by releasing excerpts from Hillary Clinton's speeches to private audiences in the financial sector, and they reveal that Hillary is just as slick as her husband in talking about putting people first and then letting money talk while the people walk. Consider this gem from an October 2013 speech to a Goldman Sachs crowd, where she said that the blame placed on the American banking system for the 2008 financial crisis "could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing what happened":
"That was one of the reasons that I started traveling in February , so people could, you know, literally yell at me for the United States and our banking system causing this everywhere. Now, that's an oversimplification, we know, but it was the conventional wisdom. And I think that there's a lot that could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing what happened with greater transparency, with greater openness on all sides, you know, what happened, how did it happen, how do we prevent it from happening? You guys help us figure it out and let's make sure that we do it right this time. And I think that everybody was desperately trying to fend off the worst effects institutionally, governmentally, and there just wasn't that opportunity to try to sort this out, and that came later."
She also told a Deutsche Bank audience a year later that even if it isn't "100 percent" true that the financial system is rigged, it still had to hurt:
"Now, it's important to recognize the vital role that the financial markets play in our economy and that so many of you are contributing to. To function effectively those markets and the men and women who shape them have to command trust and confidence, because we all rely on the market's transparency and integrity. So even if it may not be 100 percent true, if the perception is that somehow the game is rigged, that should be a problem for all of us, and we have to be willing to make that absolutely clear. And if there are issues, if there's wrongdoing, people have to be held accountable and we have to try to deter future bad behavior, because the public trust is at the core of both a free market economy and a democracy."
So she does admit that something has to be done to prevent another 9/15 (my term for the 2008 financial crisis, as it broke on September 15). Who does she think should be guarding the hen house? Apparently, the same foxes who previously raided it - Wall Street insiders, whom she said were "up to that job" and that the initiative for reform "really has to come from the industry itself."
Among other nuggets from this treasure trove of speeches: Hillary admitted in a speech to a General Electric convention in January 2014 that she needed Wall Street money to run for office, she showed in another speech an acute awareness of the security concerns with electronic devices, she endorsed free trade, and she admitted to supporting a single-payer health care system but opined that the American public would never go for it. She even admitted in one speech to taking a private position for Washington insiders and a different, public position for the voters as a way of getting things done.
Thanks to the newest Trump scandal, however, none of this matters. The Hillary leaks are mostly being ignored. Assange's release of documents would have brought down Hillary if her opponent were anyone other than the Donald, but Trump's comments about seducing and groping married women are beyond the pale even for him. Hillary is the luckiest woman in America right now, and she knows it, because none of these private speeches showing her coziness to Wall Street, full of dozens of juicy quotes, have produced the same outrage that the mere two quotes from Trump referred to earlier in this blog entry. I watched Joy Reid's Saturday morning program on MSNBC for forty-five minutes yesterday, and she spent all of her time on Trump's lewd locker-room banter and not one second on Hillary's speeches. (Reid's program runs for two hours, but I didn't get to see all of it; I can safely assume, though, that the WIkiLeaks story never came up.) The New Jersey Star-Ledger made Trump's misogynistic comments front-page news in yesterday's edition but the WikiLeaks story didn't even make the cut. Assange was supposed to release these Hillary speech experts a few days earlier, but he hesitated, only to release them just as the Trump scandal broke and drowned out the Wikileaks story. Republicans are deserting Trump to the point where he may even be pressured to step down as the party's presidential nominee and let Mike Pence (!) take his place.
And to be fair, some of these excerpts from Hillary's speeches might help her more than hurt her. Getting someone from Wall Street to police the financial sector may make perfect sense, as it proved when President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Joseph P. Kennedy, father of the 35th President and a corrupt Wall Street speculator himself, to run the Securities and Exchange Commission - "It takes a crook to catch a crook," Roosevelt famously said - and Kennedy ended up doing a first-rate job. Also, Hillary's sympathy toward single-payer health care may put her in good standing with some liberals who have previously viewed her with suspicion. True, she admitted to being a moderate, but she's done that in public. And while she's not a progressive, as she has sometimes claimed, she certainly looks like one comported to the reactionary Trump.
One good thing has come out of the Trump scandal: Hillary's victory in November is so well-assured, I can vote for Dr. Jill Stein in New Jersey, a state already safe for Hillary before the Trump story broke, without fear of helping to split the anti-Trump vote . . . although I think that theory is balderdash. As for tonight's town-hall debate, well, it suddenly became required viewing; it'll be interesting to see how the candidates - Trump especially - react to all of this.