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Podesta Emails Show Hillary Is No Champion of Progressive Causes

Overshadowed by revelations of Trump’s sexual assaults on women, the documents published by Wikileaks expose the Democratic candidate as a servant of corporate and military power, says author and journalist Doug Henwood

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JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: If it wasn’t for the revelations of Donald Trump’s long history of sexual assault, the WikiLeaks release of hacked Clinton emails would probably be getting much more attention. The release has put the Clinton campaign on the defensive and they’ve sought to blame the Russians for the leak. Clinton press secretary tweeted that the media needs to stop treating WikiLeaks like it’s the same as FOIA. Assange is colluding with Russian government to help Trump.

Meanwhile Trump has highlighted the leaks in Sunday’s presidential debate at campaign rallies and on Twitter where he recently said: Very little pick-up by the dishonest media. Of the incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged System!

Well now joining us to discuss this is Doug Henwood. Doug Henwood is the founder and editor of the Left Business Observer and author of My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency. Thanks so much for joining us Doug.

DOUG HENWOOD: Thanks for having me.

NOOR: Doug I wanted to start off with the fact that some of your work has been highlighted in the WikiLeaks release. Can you talk about what Podesta and others were saying about your work on Hillary Clinton? You wrote often scathing critics of Hillary Clinton and her record.

HENWOOD: Yes, specifically Correct the Record which is one of the many front organizations founded by Hillary’s former enemy turned adoring promoter, David Brock. Correct the Record responded to my Harper’s article which came out in late 2014 which was really the first criticism of Hillary in print coming from the left that I could think of. And Correct the Record, they held a couple of morning meetings about it. They discussed what was in it and they came up with some talking points. The talking points were so weak that they didn’t respond to anything I’d said in the piece, anything of substance. It was innuendo and smears which is the way they deal with their critics. So I happen quote Dick Morris who worked for the [Collectors] for 20 years but now he doesn’t work for them anymore. He’s considered a very disreputable source. I quoted him in a couple of paragraphs and that of course discredits everything I said.

They wanted to label me some sort of repeater of right wing slurs against the distinguished career of Hillary Clinton. They said in response and I should talk about all the work she’s done for women, girls, which I didn’t really address in the Harper’s piece but I did address in the book. But there’s really not much there but they keep citing it and all. But it was just all innuendo and not much in the way of substantive refutation. Nothing I said about her service to financial power, her love of the military, her constant duplicity over decades and decades of duplicity and secretiveness. None of that was addressed. It was just all going to be innuendo and smear.

NOOR: So Donald Trump and others were obviously hoping for a bombshell that would really hurt Hillary’s chances at the White House but that’s not what we’ve really found in the leaks but you and others have said that the leaks sort of confirm what we already knew or suspected about Hillary Clinton. That’s coming from the Washington Post, the Atlantic, that say it sort of shows that she’s a pragmatic politician. She has to say what she needs to say to get things done. What’s your response to that?

HENWOOD: Well, I think it’s a great value in confirming things we have already suspected. The Snowden and Assange leaks have done that for the last several years. If you look at some of the early stuff that came out via Assange and Snowden, a lot of that was not shocking. But it was really great to see it out there in print and confirmed and you no longer can be dismissive in some sort of radical conspiracy theorist because this stuff is really there in the digital equivalent of black and white print. That’s the way I feel about a lot of these Clinton’s emails.

I’d said that she was really an empty and cynical and I think that’s what we’ve seen. The policy making or the pretended policy making for the campaign is all about optics. It was about positioning. As the New York Times put it the other day, very little reference to anything that Clinton believes or feels. It’s just all positioning.

I think that she’s fundamentally, she is a centrist politician. We knew that all along. But a lot of people had been claiming that she was some sort of born again Eleanor Roosevelt. We saw claims by people like Rebecca Traister that Hillary had to keep that Eleanor Roosevelt, her inner Eleanor, under wraps while bill was in the limelight and now that Bill has been relegated to supporting cast, she can let her liberal social democrat run free.

I just don’t think there’s any evidence for that. Never believe that for a second and I think these emails confirm that. She is a loyal servant of the likes of Goldman Sachs and Northrop Grumman. That’s the kind of president she will be and everything in these emails just confirms it just as far as I’m concerned.

NOOR: And it’s interesting that this is what Trump is seizing on to attack her but of course there’s very little relative attention’s been paid to that because of all the women that have come forward in the last few days, the tape that came out on Friday, and other accusations of just gross, horrible actions he’s taken towards women. You know if these had come out in the primary with Bernie Sanders, many have suggested this could have, have been maybe altered the course of that primary.

HENWOOD: Well it could have. Yes. Although I don’t know. The Clintons have been running for president jointly for 40 years so they have an amazing machine. Lots of people who own them favors and they were able to draw on that throughout the primary campaign. The amazing thing is that Sanders did as well as he did but it always seemed virtually inevitable that she was going to win the primary and so it seemed virtually inevitable that she will win the election in November. I thought that all along and I had very little doubts that was the way things were going to go. Now there’s just no doubt that Trump is a revolting and often frightening figure. I just have no sympathy for him at all. I think he’s horrifying and a society that can produce him as a nominee of a major party is a society that’s got some very serious problems. But also I would say the same about Hillary Clinton.

We are a society with a lot of troubles. We have very chronic economic problems. We’re facing the climate crisis of unprecedented proportions. Yet we can’t really think about those things in anyway. And here she is, we have an enormous amount of discontent with the status quo across the political spectrum and that’s certainly what’s driving a lot of Trump support whether you like the form it takes or not. That’s certainly what drove a lot of support for Sanders. Yet we have the most likely winner in November 8th, this champion of the status quo. There’s something very deeply wrong here.

But you look at these emails and there’s actually no conception of how to deal the ideological challenges coming from Sanders or Trump. It’s just there was a sense of entitlement about her candidacy from the beginning and I don’t think that hasn’t, they haven’t really come up with anything urgent to sell her. Now they’re just running on hatred of Trump, fear of Trump, without any kind of positive vision for what kind of president she will be. People are right to be afraid of him and horrified by him. But it also is occluding any concern for what kind of president she will be and running a presidency that’s going to be friendly to Goldman Sachs, to Northrop Grumman, and that is going to continue – probably intensify military and political tension with China, Russia, and Iran, this is just frightening stuff and we’re not really thinking about this carefully enough because of the fear of Trump.

NOOR: Another interesting exchange highlighted in WikiLeaks was an email sent by the longtime head of the AFT, the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s largest teacher’s union to John Podesta. In this they write we will go after NNU, the National Nurses Union, the first and one of the largest unions to endorse Bernie Sanders – go after their high and mighty sanctimonious conduct for endorsing Bernie Sanders, for endorsing $15 minimum wage. This union has really stood up for many progressive causes. What’s your response to that? The emails also showed that I guess in a speech in Canada, Clinton praised the single payer healthcare system which the nurses support but Hillary Clinton has publicly attacked in her debates with Bernie Sanders.

HENWOOD: Well the funny thing about the praise that she uttered for the single payer system in Canada was she did that in Saskatchewan, so you know she does have a tendancy to pander to whatever audience is in front of her. So you know when you read the Goldman Sachs speech you have to think about that as well. But just judging from her actions, I think her heart is with Goldman Sachs and not with single payer. But the AFT stuff is also not terrible surprising. That is a very conservative union in a lot of ways. Has been going back decades. Was a very Cold War friendly union back in the 60’s and 70’s. As far as the labor movement goes, almost in a neo conservative in a lot of ways. So to hear that coming from Weingarten is not terribly surprising.

But imagine, a union that fights for broad social benefits and higher wages. This is considered beyond the pale. It’s considered as something worth attacking and not something worth emulating. It’s a very strange vision of unionism. We saw a whole lot of the establishment union endorsing Clinton very early on. I talked to a friend of mine who works for SCIU fairly high up. I asked why do you feel like you had to endorse so early? He said, oh my god, oh no we endorsed so late. I said wait a minute don’t you think by withholding your endorsement you increase your bargaining power and actually get something out of the endorsement in return for the endorsement. No, no, that’s not the way that they see it as working. They want to show their loyalty to the candidate more than they are interested in fighting for their membership or for the broad working class.

That’s a vision of unionism that I think has led to the shrinkage of the labor movement and to its growing irrelevance in American politics. To someone like Hillary Clinton, the labor movement is an ATM and a temporary help agency. But it’s not something that is meant to give her any kind of political ideological influence.

NOOR: Alright Doug Henwood, thanks so much for joining us again.

HENWOOD: Thank you.

NOOR: And thank you for joining us at the Real News Network.

End

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