We were expecting an “October Surprise” as the US presidential election draws ever nearer. So much scandal attaches to both candidates that anything could have blown up at any time. But no one expected what has just happened.
Hillary Clinton’s email scandal has kept rumbling on throughout the campaign, so much so that it stopped having an effect as everyone had got used to it. That may be about to change though, as the FBI has reopened its investigation into the emails she sent on a private server to bypass official scrutiny.
Some of those recently leaked show that Clinton wanted to rig the elections for the leadership of the Palestinian authority. But the revelation which is more likely to affect electors – because it is closer to people’s experience – is that of a “Catholic Spring”.
The worst thing about Hillary is her foreign policy
According to hacked emails from John Podesta, now Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Hillary has been planning to sow revolution within the Roman Catholic Church in America. The same methods used to destroy the governments of faraway Arab and South/Central American countries are allegedly about to be inflicted on a significant portion of the US population. One need to look no further than into the case of Berta Caceres; she talked a lot about Clinton during her life—and some consider that she even kind of predicted her own death in Honduras, as a result of Clinton’s foreign policy moves in the once fledgling democracy.
Libya was her Crown Jewel in how to demonise and destroy a country. This latest revelation contradicts everything those individuals supposedly stand for; you can’t expect them to like it.
The question here is not what Clinton may or may not be planning to do to the Roman Catholic Church. It is what lengths she – and any other figure in the US with the means to do so – will go to get their own way. This has long been the problem with US foreign policy, but that has been successfully packaged for domestic consumption as the only way to deal with foreign threats. It is a different matter entirely when the prospective President of the United States tries to destroy organisations from within when they have not been identified as enemies of the state – behaviour which smacks so strongly of McCarthyism that no one would vote for it.
If the Roman Catholic Church can be targeted in this way, what can’t? Every American belongs to some organisation which has ideas which contradict those of the Democratic Party, to some degree or another. Who is safe from “reconstruction” by Hillary Clinton if she is elected, and will what happens to the “reconstructed” mirror what happened to those who got in Hillary’s way when she was Secretary of State?
The enemies of the Achilles heel
In the leaked emails Podesta is discussing how to form “a few fake organisations” to foment disunity in the American Catholic Church over doctrine. This is no easy task, because basically if you don’t agree with the Pope you’re not a Catholic. However it is not impossible to appeal to a misplaced patriotic spirit to make the Church look out of touch.
Most Americans are more tolerant of mass murderers than someone considered “unAmerican”. For example, Charles Manson gets more fan mail than any other US prisoner, while Francis Gary Powers, the CIA pilot whose spyplane was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960, received a mountain of hate mail for allowing himself to be captured alive rather than taking his suicide capsule.
The idea Podesta was discussing with Hillary was that a “Catholic Spring” would be fostered by “The Center for American Progress.” If all went well this would overturn the authority of bishops. A new set of leaders, more sympathetic to “progressive” causes espoused by the Democratic Party, would then emerge who would take new positions on questions where the Roman Catholic Church has traditionally been at odds with the more “progressive” Democrats, including abortion, birth control, the ordination of women and the involvement of laity (followers of a religion who are not clergy) in church affairs.
Catholics make up approximately 20 percent of the voting US population. Traditionally they are the descendants of the immigrants considered less desirable, such as the Irish and Hispanics, who also tend to be lower earners. Therefore Catholics were historically considered more likely to be Democrat than Republican, especially in the northern states.
However the Catholic Church sees itself as more conservative than others, with its theology revolving around its view of the historic primacy of Peter over 2,000 years ago. Consequently the new American right has more recently found it a fertile recruiting ground, as the church’s position on abortion, same-sex marriage and divorce is shared by many Republicans. 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney is one of many new-breed Republicans who have courted the Catholic vote by casting himself as a bastion of tradition against godless deviancy, as the Roman Catholic Church considers itself to be.
All this is more of an issue for Democrats than Republicans because US politics has polarised into ideology and anti-ideology. Regardless of its internal divisions, the Republican Party is held together by a distinct set of conservative temperaments and values. The Democratic Party is a coalition of everyone else, with both very conservative and very liberal elements. If the Republicans lose one voter base they can pick up another which starts to find its ideology attractive. If the Democrats lose one they have to look for another disaffected group and say what it wants to hear, which is much harder to do than developing a single ideology and sticking to it.
American public servants pledge to protect the United States from all enemies “foreign and domestic”. Some prominent Republicans are refusing to support Trump because they believe him to be the latter. Whether anyone would sign up to treating the Roman Catholic Church as a domestic enemy to suit the Democratic Party is a very different matter.
But whose show is it?
The Roman Catholic Church has always been seen as suspicious in predominantly Protestant countries, and particularly relatively young ones like the US, because its members answer to an authority outside its borders. While Protestants are first and foremost citizens of the country they are in, Catholics are first and foremost part of their church, and therefore answer to the Pope in Rome rather than their local secular rulers.
Obviously a future president isn’t going to like that, though it is hardly likely that the Pope will attack the US or its allies. But nor do a lot of other players – it is a truism observed in any country that the worse governments behave, the more suspicious they are of anyone who is potentially disloyal.
According to US state officials, the newly-leaked emails have emerged from a “sexed up” investigation of former New York congressman Anthony Weiner. Weiner is the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide who now is a top member of her campaign staff. According to the The New York Times, the emails were found on a computer Abedin and Clinton had jointly used. According to Fox News, they were discovered when Weiner himself surrendered his laptop to the FBI willingly.
Clinton herself has started asking why the FBI should suddenly reopen its investigation into her private email server at this point. The timing is not convenient for her, particularly given the content of the emails. But it is convenient for a lot of other people to implicate her in something at just this time, so the issue cannot be resolved before Election Day.
Some will question whether these emails have been modified. If anything illegal or classified is in them, Hillary has lied to Congress. Trump is not a Congressman, so it doesn’t matter if he tells the biggest whoppers imaginable. It is sounding like she lied under oath before Congress when she said she never sent classified emails using her private email server… “There was nothing marked classified on my emails, either sent or received.”
Weiner was a member of Congress, subject to the same penalties for lying to it, but is now the good guy for handing these emails over to be found, to protect the public from a greater evil.
Clinton was monitored 24 hours a day as the US Secretary of State. It is possible that the FBI didn’t know about the private server before. But discussions about undermining the Catholic Church, and potentially everything else which can be manipulated in a pro-Clinton direction are startlingly similar to standard US tactics in other countries, including allied ones.
The US has routinely treated other governments and institutions in this way regardless of who is president, or wants to be. Would any of the powers that be which monitor Hillary find it worthy of comment if she did the same? Is it not equally likely that all these emails are part of a wider plot to discredit Clinton, which she has fallen into when she thought she was doing something different?
To hell with the facts, get on with the story
It is unlikely that Donald Trump is behind some high-level conspiracy to compromise Clinton. He is well-connected, but not as much as political insiders are. Indeed he has made a virtue out of being an outsider candidate, and the poll hit Clinton has taken since the investigation into her emails was reopened is further proof that people respond to his rhetoric of cleaning up the stables.
But we might remember his recent “gaffe” – the comment for which he was booed at a recent fundraising dinner. While Clinton was sitting next to Cardinal Dolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, Trump said “For example, Hillary believes that it’s vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private. Here she is in public pretending not to hate Catholics.”
This joke could have been designed to antagonise a Catholic audience, as it did. It was also made about a week before the “Catholic Spring” emails were leaked. In show businesses this is known as the “one-two combination” – attract interest with the first punch, solidify it with the second. In order to work, the second punch has to confirm an impression already gained. Whoever wrote Trump’s speech is apparently a lot wiser than he or she knows.
The military-industrial complex would undoubtedly prefer a Clinton presidency. Trump wants to curtail the US’ foreign adventures; Hillary is deeply embedded in all of them. But the mainstream media are a different matter. Though ostensibly largely supporting Hillary, the shock rise of Trump is undoubtedly the story of this campaign. Hillary is the devil everyone knows only too well. Trump is constant screwball fun – unfortunately anything but harmless fun, but a more interesting story nevertheless.
Hillary is now taking a lot of flak from newspapers which have supported her until now. There are two main circles of wealth in the US – the military-industrial complex, awash with public and criminally-obtained funds, and the independent businessmen who want to join it. These latter often buy newspapers to gather intelligence on the former. So if they are on the opposite side, who is their favoured candidate?
Maybe Hillary is as much victim as villain in this affair. But either way, her role could well be summed up in this alternative to the common Roman Catholic prayer, the Hail Mary, submitted by a source:
Hail Hillary, full of hate.
Bill is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst corrupt politicians
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Donald Trump.
Holy Hillary, Daughter of Hell,
Pray for us voters,
Now and when we cast our vote
The plot thickens!
Apparently Weiner surrendered his laptop to the FBI willingly, according to Fox News today, so the FBI didn’t have to really do anything special to find these emails… Weiner gave them to the FBI!
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.