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Commentary

Telling All

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Well, after a rocky first day, the Democratic National Convention seems to be on course to doing what the Democrats wanted it to do. Certainly Hillary Clinton supporters can’t complain about Bernie Sanders; he’s been extremely gracious.

This convention, by the way, has inadvertently proven his longtime complaint that the process was rigged against him; the famous leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee made that perfectly clear. It also seemed unfair that states like Michigan cast a majority of their votes for Clinton, when Sanders actually won the primary here.

But nationwide, Hillary Clinton was clearly the choice of a majority of Democratic voters, as even Bernie’s campaign manager has acknowledged. The email scandal could actually turn to Democrats’ advantage in two ways. First, it enabled them to quickly get rid of national party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who had become an obnoxious liability.

And it now seems that Russia very likely was behind the hacked e-mails. If Democrats can convince people that Vladimir Putin’s undemocratic regime is attempting to throw the election to Donald Trump, that can’t be good for Republicans. It’s perfectly clear why Putin would want to do this; the Republican nominee has indicated that despite NATO commitments, he might not be inclined to defend parts of the former Soviet Union.

As I’ve said more than once, you just couldn’t make this presidential campaign up. Write this as a proposed script, and they even throw Aaron Sorkin out of the studio. Not only do you have a Cold War novel subplot with the Russians trying to influence our election, there’s a story on the front page of the New York Times today saying that some are worried that former President Bill Clinton might not have enough to do in his wife’s administration.

They are worried because when he doesn’t have enough to do, he tends to get in trouble, and we all know in excruciating detail what that means. But away from Philadelphia, Donald Trump has a new scandal of his own, one on which I have some perspective.

Tony Schwartz, the journalist turned ghostwriter behind Trump’s best-selling book The Art of the Deal, came forward in a blockbuster story in the New Yorker, to denounce the man who made him millions. He says he is filled with “a deep sense of remorse” for having helped create a monster. He says if he were writing the book today, he would call it “The Sociopath.”

When I first heard about this, I was somewhat offended by Schwartz’s actions. I have collaborated on two autobiographies, one for a well-known artist and feminist and the other for a retired politician. When you do this, you are not writing a book about them; you become them for at least the duration of the project; their father confessors and alter egos.

I know all sorts of things about my subjects that I regard as entirely private forever. But neither was running for President. Schwartz never thought Trump would be either. But now he says “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it would lead to the end of civilization.”

No doubt about it, we’ve never had an election like this. And remember –the fall campaign hasn’t yet begun.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.

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