Gaius Publius: Bernstein – The White House Is Terrified the Clinton Campaign “Is in Freefall”
Yves here. The last few evenings, Lambert and I have been arguing over what I call the “Clinton decay path” which I’ve analogized to the runup to the crisis in 2008. Then, the officialdom very much thought they could keep things together till after the Presidential election. We know how that movie ended.
As of late 2007, I was assessing the odds of a really bad outcome (which I did not see as a massive financial blowup, but a Japan-style bumping downhill over a period of years) as 20-30%, which I regarded as uncomfortably high. I told Lambert I thought the Clinton train wreck odds were in that range. He thought it was more like 30% than 20%.
This post indicates the odds are even higher than that. I see two implications in the Bernstein official messaging beyond those that Gaius describes. One is that the Obama Administration has been blindsided by how bad the underlying fact set is, and they recognize that even worse is likely to be exposed. Someone as image-conscious as Obama would be particularly put off by that.
But the panic is also a clear indication, and perhaps as important, another message, not just to Clinton but to Team Dem, that the Administration can’t, or won’t but is making it seem like can’t, do what it takes to save Hillary’s bacon.
And I suspect it really is “can’t”. The FBI has enough autonomy that if they find real dirt on the Clintons, they will leak like crazy if the DoJ does not pursue the case in a serious way. That would make the Administration complicit, and Obama does not want his final months in office tainted by his Administration touching the Clinton tar baby any more than it has to. In addition, the Judicial Watch cases are proceeding, and the judge, having had the Clinton side deal with him repeatedly in bad faith, is not going to cut it any slack. The fact that there is an independent effort, completely outside the Administration’s control, pursuing the server mess, also makes it riskier for the DoJ to do nothing if Judicial Watch exposes damning documents.
By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr andFacebook. Originally published at at Down With Tyranny. GP article here.
The White House delivers another message via Carl BernsteinThe last time I featured former Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein on these pages, it was to showcase his delivery of messages he received from the White House, to the effect that the “White House” thought Clinton was blowing it with her Wall Street speeches stance, and because of that, the “White House” was freaking out (to put it colloquially) — at least as Bernstein tells it.
Here’s part of what Bernstein — a Clinton supporter — said last February (my transcript and emphasis; video at the link):
Bernstein: There is a huge story going on. I’ve spent part of this weekend talking to people in the White House. They are horrified at how Hillary Clinton is blowing up her own campaign.
And they’re worried that the Democrats could blow — they are horrified that the whole business of the transcripts, accepting the money — that she could blow the Democrats’ chance for White House. They want her to win. Obama wants her to win.
But Sanders has shown how vulnerable she is. These ethical lapses have tied the White House up in knots. They don’t know what to do. They’re beside themselves. And now, you’ve got a situation with these transcripts a little like Richard Nixon and his tapes that he stonewalled on and didn’t release.
Note the insider tone and access. I’m not writing a hit piece on Clinton; I’m showing this to make a more general point — that Carl Bernstein carries messages from the White House to the public, from Valerie Jarrett perhaps, or someone else just a step removed from the president, and Bernstein is clearly speaking with Team Obama’s permission (and likely encouragement). Which has to mean, with President Obama’s permission.
In other words, this isn’t reportorial digging-and-revealing; this is White House messaging delivered via an intermediary. Read Bernstein as the White House speaking.
In that context, listen to the current “White House” message about the Clinton campaign via Bernstein and video at the top(my italics):
Bernstein: The implications of all of this [the email server issue] are that Hillary Clinton did not want her emails subjected to the Freedom of Information Act or subpoenas from Congress. And that’s why she set up a home-brew server.
I think we all know that. People around her will tell you that in private if you really get them behind a closed door.
I was in Washington this week, I spoke to a number of top Democratic officials and they’re terrified, including people at the White House, that her campaign is in free fall because of this distrust factor. Indeed, Trump has a similar problem, but she’s the one whose numbers are going south.
And the great hope in the White House, as well as the Democratic leadership and people who support her, is that she can just get to this convention, get the nomination — which they’re no longer 100% sure of — and get President Obama out there to help her, he’s got a lot of credibility, it’s an election that’s partly about his legacy.
But she needs all the help she can get because right now her campaign is in huge trouble…
Bernstein goes on to pivot the message against Trump, but we can leave it there.
Bernstein Carrying White House Water
This is at least the second time Bernstein has carried White House messaging about Hillary Clinton’s campaign to the public (see link above for the first), and both times, the message is the same — again colloquially, “we’re freaking out” (Bernstein is nearly as vivid). What freaks them out this time? That “her campaign is in free fall” and they’re “no longer 100% sure” that she can get the nomination.
Wow. Wow that they think it, and wow that they’re leaking to the public that they think it.
Makes you wonder what the White House and other “top Democratic officials” know that they didn’t tell Carl Bernstein, or at least, what he’s not telling us. Maybe this story explains the plan all the networks are alleged (by Chris Matthews no less) to have agreed to — that they will declare Clinton the overall winner the minute the East Coast polls close in New Jersey, even though (or especially because) the West Coast polls are still open in California, the largest state and one which Clinton could well lose.
Put these two things together and it’s clear there’s now just one goal for “top Democratic officials” including the White House — to get Clinton across the finish line despite the fact that her campaign is “in free fall” and she’s limping to get there. In White House terms, to get her into the convention and get her the nomination, no matter how or under what condition.
Two takeaways — one is that top Democrats know how precarious Clinton’s position is. They’re not fooled any more than you are. That’s worth noticing. And second, the White House and Bernstein are not blaming Sanders. Whoever crafted this message for us is blaming the Clinton campaign only, and by extension, Clinton herself.
Again, makes you wonder what they know and if they really know it.