I swear I am trying to post on interesting ethics issues that have nothing to do with Hillary, Donald, either party or their hot-button issues. My issue scout Fred and others have sent me scores of topics that are waiting on the runway. Then things like this happen.
To catch you up: After Wikileaks released embarrassing e-mails, hacked from the DNC, showing collusion by the supposedly neutral arm of the Democratic Party to ensure the nomination for Hillary Clinton, Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook told ABC’s “This Week,” “It’s troubling that some experts are now telling us that this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.”
Then Trump said at a news conference in Florida, “I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” the Republican nominee “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Immediately Democrats, partisan lawyers, left-wing pundits and Trump-haters flipped out. Carl Bernstein, the far left half of Woodward and Bernstein, said Trump’s comments were “disqualifying.” Others wrote that his comments were “treason” or “virtual treason.” Clinton senior policy advisor Jake Sullivan said, “This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.”
Trump, predictably, said that he was being sarcastic.
1. I trust that my disgust for Donald Trump, his values, his character and his candidacy have been clearly and thoroughly explained here, as they will continue to be. Nonetheless, basic ethics requires that he be treated fairly by the news media, and I will continue to point out the media’s bias against him, Republicans, and anyone standing in Hillary Clinton’s way as she attempts to corrupt the government and the culture by infecting both with her grubby ambition and dishonesty. This is one more episode of journalism bias in what will be a long, long trail leading right to election day.
2. The Democratic Party’s spin on the e-mail scandal is self-evidently desperate and misleading, not that this appears to discourage Clinton-supporters in the social media from adopting it. The central issue is what the hacked e-mails show, and what the DNC and the Clinton campaign did to rig the nomination. Mook’s deflection, which a fair and competent host would have immediately rejected (but George Stephanopoulos is a loyal former Clinton staffer and confidante with a conflict of interest), was a miserable, dishonest tactic. Naturally, it was quickly adopted by most of the party and its partisan journalist supporters. Sad, weak, Martin O’Malley chimed in,
“For my own part, I’m far more outraged about the fact that the Russians are burglarizing the Democratic National Committee headquarters…And I think, as Americans, more of us should be concerned about why it is that Russians would be attacking the Democratic National Committee.”
That’s right, we should be more concerned about how Wikileaks got the e-mails than the fact that Hillary Clinton and the DNC colluded to fix the democratic process, because we’re going to elect Putin as President. In his statement, O’Malley actually had the brass to reference Watergate, which ultimately was not about Richard Nixon having the DNC burglarized, but his attempts to fix an election using dirty tricks and secret schemes. Sound familiar? And O’Malley was a candidate in the process the e-mails showed was rigged! Never mind, he fell right into line: “Thank-you, ma’am, may I have another?”
3. Reason, which is a non-partisan observer, correctly points out:
“But that the investigation is just now starting hasn’t stopped the Democrats and Clinton campaign to attempt to deflect away from the contents of the leak to try to implicate Donald Trump as Putin’s stooge…And while there’s a compelling case to be made that a Trump presidency would trend toward that direction, this response is a generalized dismissal of what the email contents actually say about the Democratic Party’s direction and how it feels about those who are trying to influence the party’s stances. Putin may or may not have played some role in the hacking of the DNC, and certainly it’s proper that the government investigate and track down who is responsible. But neither Putin nor Russian hackers are responsible for the way the party treated Sanders and its supporters. And this attempt to quickly deflect the subject matter over to Trump and Putin has the side effect (intentional or not) of again dismissively treating Sanders and his supporters’ concerns as largely irrelevant to the establishment.“
It is also real, old-fashioned, McCarthyism, an attempt to smear an opponent by linking him to Russia.
4. The “treason” argument is beyond ridiculous, and dishonest. I refuse to believe that anyone—Bernstein, Sullivan, Putin himself–believes that Trump wasn’t being sarcastic. I saw the statement, and I laughed at it out loud. Yes, it was outrageous, irresponsible, intemperate, below-the-belt, provocative, silly…all those things that Trump is on a regular basis. It was also obviously trolling. When the critics say, “It was outrageous! Nobody’s ever said anything like this! It’s incredible!” shouldn’t the first assumption be that it was tongue-in-cheek, especially knowing the source?
5. Moreover, Trump asked for the e-mails Hillary has already destroyed. He couldn’t possibly call on Russia to hack her e-mails now; either they were already hacked without any encouragement from him, or they can’t be hacked at all. Why doesn’t anyone make that clear?
6. What he was doing, if his statement was serious and there was any chance that it would be taken seriously by Putin, is calling on a possible hacker to release already stolen e-mails to the press, which would dutifully publish them, thus arguably helping Trump’s candidacy. That is encouraging a foreign power to interfere in our sovereign elections, and that is stupid, reckless, irresponsible creates an appearance of impropriety and many other things, but it’s probably not illegal. He didn’t offer any quid for that quo. He didn’t make his desires known to Russia in secret. No, this was just one more example of what an untrustworthy jerk this man is, and why making him President is like handing nuclear weapon codes to a 10-year old.
7. As it frequently is for Trump–and yes, this does contradict my conclusion that the man is a fool—this episode not only exposed a blatant and important Hillary lie, but induced her campaign to admit to it. Remember, Sullivan said, “This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.” The Clinton campaign statement said that Trump calling for the 33,000 missing e-mails were a “national security issue.” Wait: Hillary stated and has continue to say that she only wiped out personal e-mails with no relationship to the State Department or her government duties. How then could hacking them or seeking them constitute “espionage”? Charles Krauthammer has argued that Trump set a trap, and the Clinton campaign fell into it. If this is a “national security issue,” Clinton’s repeated assertions that the missing 33,000 emails were all of a personal nature,and not work-related, must have been a lie.
“So the Clinton campaign ends up admitting that perhaps there really is work-related – if not classified – stuff on the emails which she deleted,” he said, suggesting that could be grounds for a charge of obstruction, declaring that the Clinton campaign has been caught in a “complete contradiction.”
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