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Are Republicans More Authentic Than Democrats?

Binyamin Rose

Both parties diverged in dealing with maverick candidates

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

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The Democratic National Convention began under a pall as a new e-mail scandal erupts (Photos: AFP/Imagebank)

If there is one lesson to be learned from both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, it’s that people ought to be much more judicious with what they put in writing. 

Any mileage that the Democrats thought they might have earned after a Trump speechwriter admitted she heisted a few pithy quotes from Michelle Obama and grafted it onto Melania Trump’s speech was squandered by reports of thousands of leaked e-mails from more than a half-dozen Democratic National Committee officials betraying a heavy bias toward Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. If anyone needs proof that the “e” in e-mail stands for “evidence,” this is it. Haul out a scale and the sin of the Democrats would be far heavier than that of the Republicans. 

The Trump speechwriter’s iniquity was a mark of unprofessionalism, laziness, and perhaps immaturity. Unless Michelle Obama copyrighted her speech, and decides to sue, the story is over, except for those who love to rehash dated political gossip. 

The Democrats’ offense is far more serious. Party heads did their level best to tilt the playing field against Bernie Sanders by colluding with each other, and perhaps directly with the Clinton campaign, to undermine Sanders’s candidacy every step of the way. 

You can’t really say they succeeded, either. At the end of the primaries, Clinton actually fell 178 delegates short of what she would have needed to clinch the nomination. Were it not for the Democratic Party allocating 700 unelected superdelegates, most of whom are members of the party elite and who lined up in Clinton’s corner long before anybody started to feel the Bern, the Clinton nomination would have been in doubt. 

Herein lies the real lesson of the primary season and nominating conventions. 

For a party that prides itself on being inclusive, it is the Democrats who are looking like the elitists. In a two-person race, biased from the start by the superdelegate system, the leaked e-mails show how party leaders, including convention chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, intervened heavy-handedly as soon as Sanders gave them a scare, as his neo-socialist message caught fire with so many voters. 

Contrast that with the Republican Party, where 17 candidates squared off to start the primary season. The GOP also had a maverick who frightened party elites — and still does. 

And as opposed to Wasserman Schultz, who took sides and paid for it with her job, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus took the high road, and is riding high as the longest-serving chairman in party history. 

While he, too, was wary about Trump, he encouraged the democratic process to play itself out and let the voters decide. We are not yet privy to Priebus’s e-mail correspondence, but it seems clear that after Super Tuesday, when it became obvious that Trump was the people’s choice, Priebus utilized all of his political savvy and diplomatic skills to keep the GOP intact through a series of mini-insurrections from a variety of anti-Trump forces. 

The pressure and temptations on him to join the rebellious forces and undermine Trump must have been enormous, but Priebus resisted. He worked behind the scenes to ensure an orderly convention by snuffing out the last anti-Trump rebellion with a minimum of fuss. Trump did not self-destruct at the convention as some had thought — or hoped for. The GOP convention started to gel with Mike Pence’s address in accepting the vice-presidential nomination. The Trump camp finally got it all together on the final night, culminating in the nominee’s own speech. Even detractors, like the left-wing British newspaper the Guardian, labeled it a “dangerously good” speech. 

As these words are written on the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the Clinton campaign is scrambling to wiggle its way out of yet another e-mail scandal. 

But this one isn’t going to derail Clinton’s quest for the nomination either, unless some smoking gun e-mail emerges among the pile that incriminates her directly in some wrongdoing.

 For his part, Bernie Sanders wisely refrained from taking a page out of Ted Cruz’s playbook and leveraging his convention speaking slot for his own personal aggrandizement, or one final bash at Hillary. 

But even if Hillary Clinton can breathe another sigh of relief, the presidential campaign, as it unfolds, is bound to bring many more surprises that will have a lot of people gasping for breath.

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