transparent vs. opaque

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Ezra Klein makes the case that Clinton is the most transparent candidate in history, and Trump is the least--although "it doesn't feel that way:"

Even as we are drowning in info about Clinton, we feel we know little about her; her reputation for secrecy, for opacity, for inaccessibility persists. And even as we have very little information about Trump's private dealings, we feel we know much -- perhaps too much -- about him. The result is a window into the strange ways we judge transparency, openness, and disclosure in American politics.

Klein provides a convincing summary:

We have Hillary Clinton's full tax returns going back to the year 1977. We have, with varying degrees of completeness, public schedules from her time in the White House, the Senate, the State Department, and her multiple campaigns -- you can pick any day of the past 25 years at random and have a pretty good chance of figuring out exactly where Clinton was and what she was doing.

We have lists of her campaign's donors and her foundation's donors. We have tens of thousands of emails from her time at the State Department -- emails that have received more journalistic scrutiny than those of any Cabinet secretary in history. Thanks to Russian hackers trying to disrupt the US election, we have thousands of her campaign chair's emails, giving us unprecedented insight into the inner workings of her political operation. We have reams of investigative reports, congressional testimony, and documentary evidence from the inquiries into Whitewater, Benghazi, and Travelgate.

The contrast with Trump is quite stark:

The bulk of our national knowledge of Trump has come not from his disclosures but from his management of his own image -- from the items he leaked to gossip reporters, the television shows he appeared on, the interviews he gave. Digging beyond that image is difficult because Trump has forced his former associates, and even his former romantic partners, to sign nondisclosure agreements.

Klein summarizes the situation this way:

We are in the odd place of knowing more about Clinton than we can process but somehow feeling like we know nothing at all. We simultaneously have vast gaps in our knowledge of Trump even as we wonder why he can't hold anything back. It's a strange election.

Kevin Drum calls her an open book, whereas "Trump's reputation, by contrast, is ridiculous:"

He hides everything and lies about what he can't. And since he runs a private company and has never served in government, he can get away with it. He's not subject to FOIA requests or WikiLeaks dumps or random judges deciding that all his emails should be made public.

This isn't going to change, and at this point it no longer matters whether it's fair. It just is. But it's what produces such bizarre levels of CDS [Clinton Derangement Syndrome, in case you've forgotten.] among conservatives. They've forced so much openness on Clinton in an effort to destroy her, and it drives them crazy that it's done nothing except paint a portrait of a pretty normal politician. Over 25 years, they've managed to uncover only three "scandals" that are even marginally troubling, and every dry well does nothing but convince them that Clinton is even more devious than they thought. By this time, we've tracked practically every hour of every day of Clinton's life for the past decade, and there's almost literally no unexamined time left. But it doesn't matter. The next one will get her for sure!

"On the honesty front," he concludes, "she is Mother Teresa compared to Donald Trump." Due to Mother Teresa's numerous failings, I would have chosen a different example--but Drum's point still stands.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on November 2, 2016 1:34 PM.

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