The presidential election cycle is usually peppered with numerous surprise revelations mysteriously popping up and spicing up the contest for the most prestigious post in the world: President of the United States (also known as POTUS).
This year’s battle has very striking pop-ups and some coming from outside the US and others coming from unimaginable quarters, and all tipping to manipulate and in some cases even alter the general course of the elections. In all, there have been six bombshells, and counting that have rocked the election campaign trail between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (the first woman to be the nominee of a major US political party) and real estate business tycoon Donald Trump. In all these, every time events erupt on the campaign trail, the manner in which they are handled more often than not, take me to the events of George Orwell Animal Farm where the controlling animals chanted “four legs good, two legs better.”
Hillary Clinton is the first woman reaching this far in the race for the presidency of the US, the leader of the democratic world, the free world. Breaking the glass ceiling, this woman running for this high office is her constitutionally guaranteed right to do so. Sadly it is evident that she is being handled in a manner that she and her supporters have to defend again and again. On the other side, a myriad of mistakes and mishaps by her opponent are quickly swept under the rug or his defenders are given umpteen space in the media (his face filling news item after news item); at worst his campaign staffers pivot the argument and zoom in on former President Bill Clinton (aka husband to candidate Hillary).
There have been six October surprises in 2016 US Presidential election. They are as follows:
- On October 1, 2016, a reporter at the New York Times (daily newspaper) received anonymously information of Donald Trump tax release for the year 1995. This was published and later its authenticity verified. In them, Republic Party nominee Donald Trump reported a loss of close to $1b. In such a scenario, Mr. Trump could have been able to write off tax liability for close to 20 years. The story of the Trump tax returns has been an important issue in the election because Mr. Trump, contrary to the norm in US presidential elections is that candidates release their tax records. But up to today, Mr. Trump has resisted releasing his tax returns on the grounds that he is being audited. There is therefore no record of whether Mr. Trump has paid taxes or has made contributions to charity through his Trump Foundations.
(The Clintons released their tax records, fulfilling the tradition of political candidates. The media has had a field day in peeling as an onion the workings of the Clinton Foundation; such matters as source of donations, use of money etc.)
- Bombshell number two for the Trump campaign came on October 7, with the release of the Access Hollywood video tape in which Trump is recorded bragging about how he treats women. Such boasts included graphic details about him groping and grabbing women’s private parts, stating that because he is a star he can do it and get away with it; further states that women like to be treated in this way.
The story may have fizzled out had Mr. Trump owned up, apologized and moved on. But at first he refused that he has ever done the acts (categorized as sex offenses with criminal liability in US laws); he later put the discussion off as “locker room” talk. This was followed by an avalanche of women (13 to-date) coming forward to claim that they had been accosted by Mr. Trump.
- On the same day of the Access Hollywood tapes of Donald Trump, came the first in a promised series of WikiLeaks hacked emails of the Hillary campaign. The WikiLeaks is the brainchild of Julian Assange – the Australian computer programmer, publisher and journalist, who is founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks. (Assange has been in hiding from the Sweden government since 2012, where he is wanted for questioning concerning an allegation of rape. He has been in hiding at Ecuador Embassy in London).
The first time the Clinton campaign suffered from WikiLeaks hacks was during the primaries that led the Democratic Party Chair to resign. In the October release, numerous email exchanges of the Clinton campaign director John Podesta complicated the race to the White House. But of greater importance, and downplayed – even pooh-poohed by Mr. Trump and his surrogates – is the hacks being tied to Russia. The Trump campaign has continued to deny any Russian connection in the hacking, although at one point Mr. Trump asked insinuates that the Russians should hack the Clinton campaign to look for the 33,000 emails that were destroyed from her private server (used when she was Secretary of State). On this issue FBI Director James Comey has said he does not want to name Russia because this might influence the election.
- October 20, the Daily Beast newspaper released a lineup of 10 women, cataloguing the sexual assault they endured by Mr. Trump. In his defense, Mr. Trump attained the help of his wife in a well-choreographed interview with Anderson Cooper, during which Mrs. Melania Trump defended her husband, calling the Trump sex grope boast as “boy talk.” However the optics put a big divide and the Trump campaign continued its downward trend.
- An October 25 news report revealed that premiums in the Obamacare health insurance will rise by double digits next year. Already suffering an assault by the Trump campaign, the revelation put fuel in the Trump campaign rhetoric that Obamacare will be repealed under a Trump presidency.
- October 28, exactly 11 days before the election to elect the 45th president of the United States, against Department of Justice advice, the FBI Director Mr. James Comey broke from conventional practice and may have contravened elements of the Hatch Act, which bars government officials from using their position to influence an election; the law gives a window of 60 days. . On this day, Mr. Comey dispatched a letter to the Republican chairs in the Congress announcing that there would be an investigation into the emails of a close Clinton aide, Huma Abedin. Comey has come under attack from both Republicans and Democrats. The Act Boston Globe says: The FBI director did not commit some garden-variety mistake.
The irony of this zeal to continue with the email server issue and Mr. Comey’s apparent non-regard of the closeness to the 2016 election shines brightly in light of the director’s reluctance to investigate former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort; the defense was the time is “so close to the election.” Mr. Manafort is alleged to have close links with Russian oligarchs. Additionally, the Manafort case is only an inquiry and not a criminal investigation.
On their parts, each candidate has swerved the course of the election 2016 whereby discussing the issues has been sidelined and a major part of October has been spent on personal assaults: Each candidate accusing the other of possibly starting a nuclear war or world war three. Other adjectives are making the rounds. But as president Obama has declared on the Clinton rallies: “Don’t boo, go out and vote!”
When tallied, each candidate has three sledge-hammer October surprises in their baskets with which they’ve had to content. However the sledge hammer on the Clinton campaign receives the highest intensity onslaught in two circles. The first is the onslaught from a source outside the US, and specifically postmarked Russia. Where is the Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush hatred of anything to do with Russia? Where is the conventional anti-red rhetoric so prevalent in Republican Party corridors? Where is the zeal of protecting each other as Americans where attacked by the shenanigans of the evil black spy (of Mad magazine fame) that was Russia? How is it that there is relishing about reading through the tidbits of the opponent, knowing such knowledge is given on a silver platter by a known country foe?
American Republican Party, where is your patriotism? To laugh and be full of glee at the hacking of a fellow American is similar to laughing at your badly beaten and bloodied brother, beaten by the school bully.
The second is from a US government institution: the blow-beating the Clinton campaign has received from the FBI. This is a constitutional institution that in all intents and purposes, is supposed to be apolitical. Btu with all due respect to the high office of the director, this week’s FBI announcement to continue with investigations into the Clinton emails, 11 days before the election, is contra to the federal provision laid out in the Hatch Act. The Act clearly provides that 60 days before the elections the government shall not do anything that would influence the election.
Incidentally, every campaign has its own inner dealings, its own set of emails. It would be fool’s paradise to think that it is only the Clinton campaign that has the kind of linen that has been aired out and paraded – thanks to the Russian-tied WikiLeaks – in the media and at Trump campaign rallies.
Wake up America, someone’s in your backyard; they’re manipulating the US election of the highest office in the world – the POTUS. That should worry any decent, proud American-loving citizen of these United States.