Trump’s taxes

James Fallows on how the Russia imbroglio makes the issue with Trump withholding his taxes even more important:

These new developments underscore the importance of an old, familiar point: now, more than ever, Donald Trump must release his tax returns. To put it differently, the press should no longer “normalize” his stonewalling on this issue.

As another veteran figure in the defense world and political affairs wrote to me this morning:

In normal times, this [the Russian hacking] would be the lead on all network news. But these are not normal times.

I am having trouble getting through to some people that this is a real thing. The very people who always say “follow the money” with regard to the Pentagon [or other boondoggle bureaucracies] don’t see that (a) Trump has been kept afloat for about 15 years by Russian oligarchs; and (b) Russia has a powerful incentive to see a US president who will end economic sanctions.

So Donald Trump should release his tax returns because in modern times that is the basic price-of-entry in national politics. (Along with a plausible — rather thanPyongyang Daily News-style — medical report.) He should do it whether or not Vladimir Putin ever existed or there was any Russian hack. That would be true in any candidate’s case, but especially this one. George Will has come out and saidthat Trump should release his returns because of questions about his ties to “Russian oligarchs.”

With 100-plus days until the election, a nominee about whom there are graver-than-usual financial questions is saying that, unlike previous candidates, he won’t make his finances public.

Matt Yglesias with a really nice piece on all the reasons Trump may have for not wanting to release them.  I honestly believe that it is this last reason:

Trump isn’t that rich

Back before American politics became a remake of The Dead Zone, it was common to speculate that a desire to avoid real financial disclosure was a key reason why Trump would give up the publicity stunt soon enough. In July 2015, for example, BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins wrote that “the ‘financial disclosure’ Trump released this week — declaring $9 billion in assets — more closely resembles a dream board than a set of official financial documents. If he actually discloses his tax returns like a credible, real-life candidate, he risks revealing a messier and more modest personal fortune.”

This is probably the most important one. Trump is clearly a rich man, but he was born rich, so whether his wealth reflects actual business skill hinges crucially on how rich he actually is.

Exactly.  And if Trump is shown to be worth far less than he pretends, that does a lot to pop the bubble of Trump’s persona as a super-successful businessman who really knows what he’s doing (of course, that bubble is fully popped for those actually paying attention, but showing him to be worth far less than he pretends is something that would have much broader resonance).

And Ron Fournier makes the case for how the media could use its leverage to get Trump to release them:

The media is nothing if it can’t hold a presidential candidates accountable—if newsrooms and editorialists can’t force a White House aspirant to keep a promise, uphold precedent, and address suspicions that he’s a tool of Moscow.

Journalism is a joke if we let Donald Trump slide.

And so I have an idea for CNN, MSNBC, FOX News and the three broadcast networks:

Stop interviewing Trump, and stop paying his surrogates, until he releases his tax records…

A TV embargo would starve Trump’s ego, feed his vast insecurities, and rob him of the biggest crutch in his campaign—free media.

It would bend him to the public’s will.

This modest proposal is part of a broader pitch I’ve been making to journalists to“flip the script.” In the White House press corps, especially, I wrote, “journalists are ceding control when they should be seizing it, accepting canned news rather than breaking it.”

The destruction of journalism’s 20th-century business model, the rise of social media, and the professionalism of politics has eroded accountability journalism. There is less traction for the traditional ways of ferreting out wrongdoing, mobilizing public outrage, and forcing change.

So journalism must adapt.

Trump dodges questions about his tax returns. He ignores editorials demanding transparency. He laughs off suggestions that he’s got something to hide.

So political journalism must adapt.

Here’s the thing.  The media won’t really push on this until Democrats do and now, they really just aren’t pushing it that hard.  My intuition is that something in Trump’s tax returns truly will damage his reputation and cause substantial negative media coverage.  If that’s so, such revelations and coverage would be significantly more damaging in the heat of the fall campaign in August or September.  So, strategically speaking, maybe Democrats are just waiting to push on this.  For example, John Kerry was presumably vulnerable on the “Swift Boat” issue all along, but it wasn’t until August 2004 (if I’m recalling correctly) that the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ads hit the airwaves and blew up the campaign.

If the Democratic Party, SuperPAC’s, etc., run ads and keep pushing the issue, the media will push on it, too, (though, presumably not to the degree Fournier suggests– though they should).  I’m also reminded how way back in 1992 Clinton supporters kept showing up at GHWB events in chicken suits to draw attention to Bush’s unwillingness to debate Clinton.  That was media catnip, and Bush eventually gave in and agreed to three debates (which sure didn’t help him).  So, protesters showing up as human tax returns (or something better, but irresistible to TV news) could help put Trump’s taxes front and center.  Now, maybe, there’s really nothing there.  But when you consider that every modern candidate has released tax returns without a fuss, I’d say it’s a good bet that Trump genuinely has something damaging to hide.

Trump’s remarkable consistency on Russia

Great piece from Frum:

But it’s important to understand that there is more here than one unfortunate remark. Over the course of his candidacy, Donald Trump has revealed a remarkably consistent attitude toward Russia—a subject he seems to have thought about almost more than any other in this campaign.

He has repeatedly and emphatically rejected criticism of Vladimir Putin’s methods of rule, including his murders of journalists.

He has called NATO obsolete because it is too focused on the threat from Russia. At his own convention, he told The New York Times he would not defend small NATO countries like Estonia against a Russian attack…

Hillary Clinton was very careless, yes. She was careless—choosing to shield her email from scrutiny by hosting it on a personal server, perhaps over-learning the lessons of decades of subpoenas and congressional hearings. She obfuscated and dissembled about what she had done, and why. Along the way, she may have exposed classified information to foreign-intelligence agencies. She may also have exposed herself to blackmail, if those agencies hacked more personal confidences…

Those are things one may suspect. They are not things that are known. Conservatives who invoke fears about what Clinton may have done as a defense against what Trump repeatedly has done are inverting all reasonable concerns. Trump actually is acting to advance Russian interests. He actually has subordinated U.S. national security to his own political ambitions. He already has compromised the security of U.S. alliances and the integrity of the U.S. military guarantee.

No candidate for president since Henry Wallace ran as a “Progressive” in 1948 has run a campaign so openly in service to an adverse foreign power as Trump’s. His complaints about the insufficient number of American flags on the Democratic convention stage are clumsy parodies of patriotism, and the flag pins on the lapels of the TV talking heads who will condone his latest pro-Putin remarks are no better. [emphasis mine]

What’s behind Trump’s bounce?

I’ve been waiting to come across a post like this from a smart polling guy about Trump’s bounce and Mark Blumenthal has come through.  Yes, this is an analysis based on a single polling organization, but what it has to say is very telling:

The recently narrowed race coincides with a shift in party identification in SurveyMonkey’s tracking, particularly over the past two weeks. While Democrats had held a remarkably consistent party ID advantage since January (usually  in the 4–8 point range), that margin narrowed to three points last week (33 to 29 percent) and just a single percentage point (32 to 31 percent) this week. [bold mine, italics original]

The shift is also evident when including the partisan leanings of those who are initially independent. For most weeks in 2016, SurveyMonkey’s tracking gave Democrats an advantage of 3 to 5 percentage points in leaned party identification. Last week, the same number of voters (43 percent) identified or leaned with the Republicans as identified with or leaned to the Democrats. This week, Republicans have a one percentage point edge (43 to 42 percent).

While aggregate partisanship and vote preference has shifted in our samples over the past four weeks, vote preference by party has remained mostly stable. Trump may have gained very slightly among Republicans and independents who lean Republican (rising from 86 to 90 percent), although his vote has fallen (from 37 to 32 percent) among independents who lean to neither party.

Blumenthal has a lot of smart thoughts on all this, but I think it is pretty simple.  What’s more likely, 1) that the Republican convention has led to a substantive change in mass partisanship throughout the country? or 2) that the Republican convention has changed the partisan balance of Americans responding to survey questions?

Here’s the key chart:

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 11.59.28 AM

I will confidently predict that if Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both win 90-91% of their partisans, Clinton wins the election by a close, but comfortable margin.

This is not normal

And the media (and soul-selling Republicans) need to stop pretending it is.  Ezra:

Trump’s press conference today was similarly bananas. He walked out onstage and blasted the job Tim Kaine had done in … New Jersey? Of course, Tim Kaine was the governor of Virginia. Trump seems to have literally confused the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee with Tom Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey.

Unwilling to stop there, Trump went on to comment on the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s emails, which most experts think was conducted by Russia. “Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to find the 33,000 emails that are missing — I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” he said.

So, yes, Donald Trump went out and asked a foreign government to conduct cyber espionage in order to help his campaign. This came only hours after his running mate, Mike Pence, had warned of “serious consequences” if Russia truly was behind the DNC hack. Apparently those serious consequences would be … future assignments from Donald Trump?

This isn’t normal behavior from a major American politician. It’s not even particularly normal behavior from Donald Trump. After he picked Mike Pence, empowered campaign chair Paul Manafort, and gave a structured convention speech, there looked to be a chance that Trump was unveiling a new, more sober persona for the general election. But he can’t do it. He can’t suppress his own mania for even a week.

It’s weird to keep saying this, but this is not okay. This is not a man with the temperament, the steadiness, the discipline to be president. The issue here isn’t left versus right, or liberal versus conservative, or Democrat versus Republican. It’s crazy versus not crazy. Donald Trump, of late, has been acting pretty crazy. That’s not acceptable in the job he’s running to fill. [emphasis mine]

Going all in on Russia

Love Benen’s take, just laying the horribleness and ridiculousness of this bare:

There’s a temptation among some to believe Americans have seen it all before. No matter how ridiculous our politics can get, no matter how outlandish an election, no matter how severe the dysfunction, there are those who will tell you there’s nothing politically new under the sun.
Those people are wrong. We’ve never seen anything like this.
Donald Trump on Wednesday asked Russia to help find the missing emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump proposed from a podium at his Doral Resort. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
The Republican presidential hopeful added that he doesn’t believe Russia was responsible for hacking DNC materials – there’s overwhelming evidence that suggests Trump is wrong – but the GOP candidate said that if Russia did steal Democratic documents, he “hopes” the Russians have Clinton’s emails.
Let’s be very clear about what happened this morning. The Republican candidate for president held a press conference in which he urged Vladimir Putin’s espionage services to help sabotage the American election and put Trump in the White House.
 
No, seriously. That’s the level of genuine insanity that we’ve reached. Against the backdrop of allegations that Russia is already trying to intervene in the U.S. presidential race on Trump’s behalf, Donald J. Trump took the next step towards true madness today, publicly calling on a foreign government to commit a felony against his American rival on his behalf.
 
There is literally nothing in the American tradition that’s similar to this. Nothing. Trump is taking his candidacy, his party, and his country into unchartered waters. [emphasis mine]…

Also consider what we’re learning about Trump’s perspective on intelligence. As far as he’s concerned, there’s nothing wrong with urging an unfriendly foreign state to commit a cybercrime against an American for political purposes. If Trump heads the U.S. executive branch, and has some authority over the CIA and NSA, is anyone prepared to argue that he’ll be restrained and responsible?What more could Trump do to convince people about the dangers of his candidacy? How is this not a disqualifying moment?Try to imagine – no, really, take a moment to think about – how significant a scandal it would be if Hillary Clinton publicly urged Russia to do her a favor, target a GOP rival, and help her win an election. How quickly would her career in public life end? How many congressional hearings and investigations would Republicans demand?I’ve been watching this bizarre presidential race every day since it began. It’s never been scarier than it is right now.

The scariest part is that this demonstrably unqualified, autocratic, narcissist is polling over 25%, much less even.

Russia and the stolen  emails

Again, we don’t know it’s Russia, but if this was a civil case, the preponderance of the evidence would almost surely find them liable.  And, you know what, even if it was not the Russian government, some foreign entity or person stole DNC emails and intentionally released them in a way to cause maximum damage.  How is that not more of a story than that DWS doesn’t like Bernie?!

Franklin Foer with the best on this I’ve read so far:

And when the stolen information arrived, it was dressed in the ideology of WikiLeaks, which presents its exploits as possessing a kind of journalistic bravery the traditional media lacks.

But this document dump wasn’t a high-minded act of transparency. To state the obvious, only one political party has been exposed. (Selectively exposed: Many emails were culled from the abridged dump.) And it’s not really even the inner workings of the Democrats that have been revealed; the documents don’t suggest new layers of corruption or detail any new conspiracies. They’re something closer to the embarrassing emails that fly across every office in America—griping, the testing of stupid ideas, the banal musings that take place in private correspondence. The emails don’t get us much beyond a fact every sentient political observer could already see: Officials at the DNC, hired to work hand in glove with a seemingly inevitable nominee, were actively making life easier for Hillary Clinton. It didn’t take these leaks to understand that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a hack and that the DNC should be far more neutral in presidential primaries.

What’s galling about the WikiLeaks dump is the way in which the organization has blurred the distinction between leaks and hacks. Leaks are an important tool of journalism and accountability. When an insider uncovers malfeasance, he brings information to the public in order to stop the wrongdoing. That’s not what happened here. The better analogy for these hacks is Watergate. To help win an election, the Russians broke into the virtual headquarters of the Democratic Party. The hackers installed the cyber-version of the bugging equipment that Nixon’s goons used—sitting on the DNC computers for a year, eavesdropping on everything, collecting as many scraps as possible. This is trespassing, it’s thievery, it’s a breathtaking transgression of privacy. It falls into that classic genre, the dirty trick. Yet that term feels too innocent to describe the offense. Nixon’s dirty tricksters didn’t mindlessly expose the private data of low-level staff.

We should be appalled at the public broadcast of this minutiae. [emphasis mine] It will have a chilling effect—campaign staffers will now assume they no longer have the space to communicate honestly. This honest communication—even if it’s often trivial or dumb—is important for the process of arriving at sound strategy and sound ideas.

And, a great column from Anne Applebaum, who sure knows Russia:

The motives of the hacker, the leaker or the person in possession of the secret tapes are rarely examined. But what to do when that person has an ulterior motive quite far from “the public’s right to know”? And what if that person’s motive is to help throw an American election?

I am not asking this question in a vacuum. All available evidence now points to direct Russian involvement in the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s email system. The evidence has been described by Eli Lake  (he quotes Trump campaign adviser Mike Flynn saying he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Russia were responsible) and laid out in meticulous detail by Thomas Rid of Motherboard

Nevertheless, with the exception of a few people on Twitter and a handful of print journalists, most of those covering this story, especially on television, are not interested in the nature of the hackers, and they are not asking why the Russians apparently chose to pass the emails on to WikiLeaks at this particular moment, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention. They are focusing instead on the content of what were meant to be private emails…

In Poland, hundreds of hours of tapings of political figures were arranged by a businessman who traded coal with Russia; to make them, he used waiters, one of whom later testified that he was explicitly promised a reward when a new government came to power. They were published by a magazine run by an ex-con who spent five years hiding from police in Russia in the 1990s. And yet just as in the United States, the Polish media focused almost exclusively on the details of the conversations, the bad language and jokes — none of which revealed any genuine corruption — rather than the motivations of the people who had taped and released them. Believe me, I know this story well: My husband was one of the politicians on the tapes.

Why would the Russians do this in the United States? That’s easier: You do not need to think conspiratorially in order to understand why the Russian government badly wants Trump to win this election. His deep business connections to Russia have been documented. As I wrote last week, his stated policy positions — temper U.S. support for NATO, stop advocating democracy, withdraw support for Ukraine — are exactly what Russia wants. Russia’s primary foreign policy goals are to weaken the European Union, soften up NATO and make the European continent safe for corrupt Russian money. President Trump would make all of those things possible.

Of course, Hillary Clinton might win anyway. But since vastly more attention will be paid to Debbie Wasserman Schultz than to Vladimir Putin, there doesn’t seem to be a downside to this leak. It might not work — but if you were Putin, wouldn’t you try?

Paul Waldman tries to explain the media’s failure:

But there’s something utterly bizarre about the kind of coverage this story is getting. Evidence currently suggests that the Russian government may have attempted to sway the results of the U.S. presidential election. I put that in italics, because it ought to be in screaming 72-point headlines on every front page in America. And yet, it’s being treated like just one more odd story in a wacky election year, not much more important than the latest fundraising numbers or which ethnic group Donald Trump has insulted most recently.

So what’s going on? Let me offer some thoughts about why the story isn’t bigger than it is. First, the political reporters covering it have gotten distracted by the content of the emails, in which DNC staffers complain to each other about Bernie Sanders and detail the various forms of butt-kissing they have to do for big party donors. There’s always something compelling about seeing private communications that become public, and it also helps that Sanders supporters were quick to say, “See? See? They were plotting against us!”

But the truth is that the emails didn’t show that the DNC “rigged” the primaries in Hillary Clinton’s favor. Yes, DNC staffers plainly preferred that Clinton become the nominee. The DNC did appear to give more weight to the Clinton campaign’s desire for fewer debates. But there was nothing that the DNC did that seriously harmed his chances or meaningfully impacted the outcome of the nomination contest. The emails showed that some staffers talked about undermining Sanders — and that there was real hostility between the DNC and the Sanders campaign — but those DNC staffers never followed through.

And so, the emails didn’t reveal truly scandalous behavior on the part of any American political actors, which would be required to really get political reporters’ juices flowing — and get them eager to investigate and write story after story about it. Since the wrongdoing here may have been committed by Russian hackers, that makes it more interesting to foreign affairs and national security reporters (who are the ones writing most of the stories about the hack itself) than to the political reporters whose stories are given the most prominent play at the moment.

The next reason why it isn’t a bigger deal is that the aggrieved party, the Democrats, aren’t pushing the story forward as much as they might, first because they don’t want to attract more attention to the content of the emails, and second because they aren’t making the kind of vicious accusations Republicans would if the tables were turned — the kind of accusations we in the media eat up. Instead, they’re saying milquetoasty things like this from Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook: “When you put all this together, it’s a disturbing picture. I think voters need to reflect on that.”

Consider what would happen if the shoe was on the other foot. Imagine if the Republican Party’s emails had been hacked by the Russian government, and then those emails had been publicly released on the eve of the GOP convention in a fairly obvious attempt to embarrass the party, and it just so happened that the Democratic nominee and the Russian president had been blowing kisses to one another, and it just so happened that the Democratic nominee had been proposing a series of radical transformations to American foreign policy that could practically have been written by the Russian president in order to advance his aims. How would Republicans have reacted?

We all know the answer: They would be screaming their heads off, saying this just proves that the Democratic nominee hates America and is trying to destroy our position in the world. They’d be calling her a commie and a flag-burner and dirty unpatriotic hippie. And the media would duly pass along those criticisms. [emphasis mine]

Dana Milbank takes this idea and nicely runs with it (it’s great, though, I’ve pasted enough here).

And, lastly, no matter who stole these emails, a foreign-national, Julian Assange, has basically admitted that he released them for maximum damage because he wants Hillary Clinton to lose.  And, seriously, only the NYT even seems to care!  The “liberal” CNN has no mention whatsoever on their front page, just a not-so-friendly, headline about the DNC, “Truths, half-truths, and lies.”

Honestly, I think someday people will look back and see this as, among other things, an absolutely massive failure of political journalism.  Oh, and maybe Democrats should take a page from Trump’s book and push this harder.

The Bernie Backlash

Number 1.  The media is making a way bigger deal out of this than it actually is.  The media has a built-in bias for conflict and negativity.  And they hate, carefully orchestrated PR events like conventions with no real news.  Hey, look, the nominee is official and a bunch of people gave speeches.  Therefore, whatever conflict there is, will always be dramatically magnified.

Number 2.  The Bernie delegates are not a representative sample of Bernie supporters.  In many cases, they are the most committed.  And many of them are not your typical Democratic party pols.  So, they are more likely to make a fuss as we’ve seen.  Add number 1 and number 2 = media catnip and blowing this out of proportion.

The actual Bernie supporters?  Jamelle Bouie:

Yes, there are angry and discontented delegates who supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries. Some are avowedly anti-Hillary and believe Sanders was sabotaged by the DNC in an effort to subvert the will of Democratic voters. There is no evidence that this is true. If, in January, you looked at nothing but the demographics of Clinton and Sanders support, you could have predicted the outcome. Here’s what I wrote at the beginning of the year. “If Sanders can break or subvert Clinton’s relationship with black Democrats, he can win. If he can’t, he won’t.”

More important than the mechanics of the primary, however, is the simple fact that these delegates—these vehemently anti-Clinton voters—are an unrepresentative minority of all Bernie supporters. Of the voters who backed Sanders throughout the course of the Democratic primary, 90 percent support Clinton, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. [emphasis mine] Of those who switched from Clinton to Sanders or from Sanders to Clinton, 88 percent now back Clinton. Even with a third-party candidate in the mix, as noted by Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight, the picture is one of general unity, with around a third of Sanders’ primary voters rejecting the Clinton ticket. And those voters are neither regular voters nor consistent Democrats. Many are voters who normally support third-party candidates, but who signed on to Bernie’s campaign because of its distance from the Democratic establishment.

Yglesias:

The problem: Sanders had little control over his delegates, who seemed unwilling to get behind his endorsement of Clinton. This was in part a matter of sloppiness on the part of Sanders’s team in selecting delegates. But as one operative told me, there was another reason Sanders’s delegation was so unruly: Everyone was so afraid to cross Clinton by serving as a Sanders delegate that he couldn’t convince the kind of party loyalists who normally take the job to do it.

Instead, many Sanders delegates come from the world of left-wing protest culture rather than party politics. And on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center, they acted like it.

This may be one reason Silverman’s speech resonated with these boisterous delegates whereas earlier politicians’ speeches tended to alienate: She’s an outsider too.

And another Yglesias post:

Every modern political convention features thousands of delegates. And traditionally, a candidate’s slate of delegates from a given state will draw heavily from the ranks of local politicians and politician-aligned interest groups.

For example, in Washington, DC, Hillary Clinton’s delegates include the mayor, a couple of members of the DC council, an ex-council member currently serving in the mayor’s Cabinet, and so forth.

As a website for Sanders supporters explains: “Delegates are often party activists, local political leaders, or early supporters of a given candidate. … Delegates can also include members of a campaign’s steering committee. In some cases, delegates are long-time active members of their local party organization.”

But while this is an excellent description of Clinton’s delegates, it does not describe Sanders’s delegates at all. As one longtime Massachusetts Democratic Party hack observed, Clinton’s delegates were almost all people he recognized from party politics. Sanders’s were not.

Drum on Bernie’s responsibility for this:

Our reporters say that Sanders “looked a bit surprised by the intensity of the Clinton opposition.” I can’t imagine why. This is one of the big problems I had with him back during the primary. It’s one thing to fight on policy grounds, as he originally said he would, but when you start promising the moon and explicitly accusing Hillary Clinton of being a corrupt shill for Wall Street—well, there are some bells that can be unrung. He convinced his followers that Hillary was a corporate warmonger more concerned with lining her own pockets than with progressive principles, and they still believe it. And why wouldn’t they? Their hero told them it was true.

Hillary is no saint. But her reputation as dishonest and untrustworthy is about 90 percent invention. Republicans have been throwing mud against the wall forever in an attempt to smear her, and the press has played along eagerly the entire time. When Bernie went down that road, he was taking advantage of decades of Republican lies in the hopes of winning an unwinnable battle. He was also playing directly into Donald Trump’s hands.

And, finally, Seth Masket on the nothingburger that is the emails the Bernie supporters are so freaked out about:

The disclosed e-mails have been depicted as showing a rigged system that systematically undermined Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

But even if you believe the worst interpretations of these e-mails, the evidence is pretty mild. What we see is DNC staffers trying to spin the media in favor ofHillary Clinton and to complain to each other about Sanders. One certainly does not get the impression that the DNC staff was impartial between Clinton and Sanders — they appear biased and unprofessional — but there’s hardly evidence they materially manipulated the contest.

If one wants evidence of that, look to the overwhelming numbers of Democratic governors, senators, representatives, and state legislators who endorsed Clinton last year. Look at the Barack Obama-leaning super PAC thatannounced its support for herback in 2014. All these things had the effect of scaring off qualified Democratic candidates. Arguably, sure, they limited voters’ choices, they tilted the contest toward Clinton, and they weren’t fair. But they’re a pretty far cry from corruption or criminality. And to expect Democratic Party staffers to be impartial in their internal correspondence about a contest between Clinton and someone who arguably isn’t even a Democrat just seems unrealistic.

I’m certainly not claiming that anything is permissible as long as it’s better than what Nixon did. But we need to recognize the challenges of expecting a party to impartially manage a contest in which it clearly has preferred outcomes.

And it’s really hard to find evidence that Sanders’ voice was in any meaningful way squelched. He had nine debates with Clinton to make his case. He kept pace with her in fundraising. He was competitive in basically every state contest and had no trouble recruiting many dedicated volunteers, caucus-goers, and voters. He simply came up short. If this is a rigged system, then basically every contest is.

So, short version.  Hillary voters: relax, but be annoyed at the media (but accept that this is simply the media reality).

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