Friday October 7, 2016 should have decided the 2016 election in favor of Hillary Clinton. That evening I chatted with another political junkie whose opinions I really respect. If you want a detailed chronical of events I’d suggest Chapter 18 (entitled Red October) of Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’ book, Shattered. An alternative is to wait for Robert Mueller’s report to tell us the backstory of what transpired in a matter of two hours that afternoon. For a shorter version (including more about my conversation with my friend) please read on.
A tad after 2:30 of the Friday afternoon in question the Obama administration finally made a public announcement that the intelligence community knew of the Russian effort to influence the 2016 election in part by hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The announcement came only after an effort to get a bi-partisan announcement from Congressional leaders which Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scuttled. The Obama administration was operating under the conventional wisdom that Hillary Clinton would emerge victorious in November and didn’t want to appear partisan so close to the election. Even at that point in time Trump’s ties to Russia were somewhat widely known. Under ordinary circumstances that report would have killed Trump’s chances.
During the three o’clock hour the Washington Post (under David Farenthold’s byline) published a story complete with video that we now know as the infamous Access Hollywood tape. Sex sells in the news business and immediately the recorded voice of a major Presidential candidate bragging of grabbing women’s genitals dominated the airwaves.
By 4:30 Wikileaks released over 2,000 emails involving Hillary staffers, a few of them embarrassing. (Some were as mundane as family recipes.) The timing was portrayed as coincidental. I generally subscribe to Malcom Nance’s theory that, “Coincidence takes a lot of planning”. (It will be interesting to see what Robert Mueller has to say about this.)
Consider that this was all against the backdrop of awaiting Hurricane Matthew’s landfall in Florida. I am a consumer of mostly what can fairly be described as left leaning and middle of the road media. That weekend was dominated by Access Hollywood talk. What little time was left was taken up by Matthew’s destruction. The bottom line is that even on the left the Russian hacking story got buried.
I also live in somewhat of a liberal bubble. I remember attending a charity event that night and speaking with my above referenced very astute political observer friend. Even though neither of us is prudish in the language we use in our personal conversations I distinctly remember refereeing to Trump’s conversation as using the phrase, “That particular word”. We both (incorrectly) figured that Trump’s goose was cooked. Our reasoning was that a Presidential candidate couldn’t be elected after being caught bragging about sexually assaulting women so close to Election Day.
Two out of three things went terribly badly for Trump and somehow he still survived. That, like many other things, in the 2016 election defied conventional political logic. An interesting coincidence is that October 7, 2016 was Vladimir Putin’s 64th birthday. What initially looked like a disaster for his favored candidate ended up working out just fine. The Russian involvement in the DNC hack got buried in the news, the Access Hollywood tape probably helped him with an envious Bubba and the hacked emails only solidified Trump’s base.
I purloined the title of this article from Meat Loaf’s 1978 hit, 2 Out Of 3 Ain’t Bad. Two lines in the song sum up Trump’s true feelings about the masses. “I want you, I need you. But – there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you.” Trump’s populist message was a lie and his actions in office are proving that. Like the lying teenager boy in his car on a Saturday night he wanted and needed his passenger, but he was never going to love her.
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