WikiLeaks has released parts of paid (in millions), private speeches of Hillary Clinton that she delivered to audiences like the Wall Street bankers. The dump is part of trove hacked from email of John Podesta, Hillary’s campaign head. These so-called speeches have always been controversial. Bernie Sanders would always reiterate his demand to make transcripts of these speeches public. Donald Trump, though fast losing the race (of popularity and of ratings) with his misogynistic, crude, sexist remarks, continues to do so.
Yet Hillary refused to budge.
On their part, activists were always on the job. They had already flagged some excerpts in January and a comprehensive stuff is out now.
And on their part, Hillary’s team has gone on record to deny the authenticity of these papers, blaming them on Russian hackers who want to jeopardize Hillary’s electoral chances.
But on her part, Hillary doesn’t look so perturbed. Even if Trump mocked her on her answer, she sounded good when she answered why a leader needed to ‘have a public and a private position’ on an issue.
She said, “That was something I said about Abraham Lincoln after having seen the wonderful Steven Spielberg movie called ‘Lincoln. It was a masterclass watching President Lincoln get the Congress to approve the 13th Amendment. It was principled and it was strategic. I was making the point that it is hard sometimes to get the Congress to do what you want to do, and you have to keep working at it, and yes, President Lincoln was trying to convince some people, he used some arguments, convincing other people, he used other arguments. That was a great, I thought, a great display of presidential leadership.”
And it seems her explanation has gone down well in the public because now her team looks to own it (even if they will still disown the WikiLeaks trove). Her campaign manager Robby Mook said in a TV show after the debate, “Let’s be clear. I think there’s a distinction between what goes on in negotiations and what her positions are on the issues and have been on the issues.”
Yes, leaders can have public and private positions on an issue. That is only natural. That is human. Ethical politics is all about maintaining a fine balance between what you feel and what is needed.