JULY 27, 2016 — Democrats certainly have a problem with email, don’t they? First, it was Hillary Clinton’s secret email server at her house in New York. Now, it’s a leaked trove of 19,000 emails that show that the Democratic National Committee was doing what Bernie Sanders claimed it was doing all along: laying a finger on the scale in favor of Clinton.
The disclosure of the emails, courtesy of the renegade website WikiLeaks (and possibly hacked courtesy of the Russian government) comes at a bad time for Clinton, the former secretary of state who is about to officially claim the Democratic nomination to be president. After a disorganized and fitful Republican convention last week, the Democrats had hoped to portray sweetness and light.
It’s not happening. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned Monday over the disclosures but that did little to placate furious Sanders supporters. If there was to be a lovefest between the Sandernistas and the Clinton team in Philadelphia, it wasn’t happening as the convention opened.
As Sanders spoke to supporters prior to the opening of the convention, he asked them to support Clinton, prompting a round of boos. Earlier, some Sanders supporters even reprised the “lock her up, lock her up” chant from last week’s Republican convention in Cleveland. In an email to supporters, Sanders warned “our credibility as a movement” could be damaged by such actions.
Sanders and Clinton fought a long, difficult political battle — Sanders repeatedly called for a political revolution, after all — so it’s no surprise that feelings he encouraged and channeled may still be just a bit raw.
But, given what we’ve seen so far in the leaked emails, the supporters of the Vermont senator have a right to be unhappy.
The DNC, which is supposed to be neutral, was anything but neutral.
The leaked emails show that DNC staffers appeared to coordinate with the Clinton campaign to oppose Sanders. At one point, they appeared to try to make Sanders’ faith an issue, hoping to score points with socially conservative voters in Kentucky and West Virginia. “It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps,” wrote DNC chief financial officer Brad Marshall.
At another point, Wasserman Schultz called a Sanders aide a “damn liar” and complained that Sanders had “no understanding” of the party. A lawyer for Clinton gave the DNC advice on how to respond to Sanders’ charges that the Clinton campaign was improperly using its joint fundraising committee with the DNC. In another message, a DNC staffer mocked Sanders’ push for a California debate. After the Sanders campaign said a deal had been reached, the staffer responded: “lol.”
Would it have made a difference if the DNC had been truly impartial? Probably not. The Democrats were never likely to nominate a pseudo-Socialist, and Clinton’s overall support inside the party was strong throughout the primary season.
But the Democrats’ treatment of Sanders’ insurgent candidacy was shabby. The DNC apologized to Sanders and his supporters Monday after Wasserman Schultz quit, and that’s fine. As for Wasserman Schultz, she needed to go, and she may not be the only one who should be sacked.