It didn't work for Hillary, whose campaign was pegged -- maybe not for public consumption, since Robby Mook insisted in the final days leading up to November 8 that surging Latino support would offset any drop off in African Americans -- on an enormous but fictitious gender gap (I bought it) that predicted droves of Republican-leaning suburban soccer-&-megachurch moms, offended by Trump's misogyny, casting a Democratic ballot.
But mediocre Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein seems to have found the sweet spot and is cleaving the Democratic Party in twain with her drive for a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania based on the possibility of a computer hack in these three swing states. Yesterday the Clinton campaign reluctantly agreed to join Stein in her recount quest, as David Sanger reports in "Hillary Clinton’s Team to Join Wisconsin Recount Pushed by Jill Stein":
WASHINGTON — Nearly three weeks after Election Day, Hillary Clinton’s campaign said on Saturday that it would participate in a recount process in Wisconsin incited by a third-party candidate and would join any potential recounts in two other closely contested states, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
The Clinton campaign held out little hope of success in any of the three states, and said it had seen no “actionable evidence” of vote hacking that might taint the results or otherwise provide new grounds for challenging Donald J. Trump’s victory. But it suggested it was going along with the recount effort to assure supporters that it was doing everything possible to verify that hacking by Russia or other irregularities had not affected the results.
In a post on Medium, Marc Elias, the Clinton team’s general counsel, said the campaign would take part in the Wisconsin recount being set off by Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, and would also participate if Ms. Stein made good on her plans to seek recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Mrs. Clinton lost those three states by a total of little more than 100,000 votes, sealing her Electoral College defeat by Mr. Trump.
The Clinton campaign had assailed Mr. Trump during the election for refusing to say he would abide by the results if he lost. On Saturday, Mr. Trump responded to the campaign’s decision to join the recount with a statement calling the effort “ridiculous” and “a scam by the Green Party.”
He suggested that most of the money raised would not be spent on the recount. “The results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing,” Mr. Trump said.
In Wisconsin, Mr. Trump leads by 22,177 votes. In Michigan, he has a lead of 10,704 votes, and in Pennsylvania, his advantage is 70,638 votes.
Mr. Elias suggested in his essay that the Clinton campaign was joining the recount effort with little expectation that it would change the result. But many of the campaign’s supporters, picking up on its frequent complaints of Russian interference in the election, have enthusiastically backed Ms. Stein’s efforts, putting pressure on the Clinton team to show that it is exploring all options.What we have here is the Democrats reaping what they have sowed. For months they hid behind allegations of Russian hacking masterminded by the evil Putin to explain away the proof of corrupt behavior by DNC officials and Clinton campaign honchos contained in the WikiLeaks revelations. So when a New York Magazine article published last week reported that a group of experts had approached the Clinton campaign "with persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked," and it was the Green Party not the Democrats who sprang into action, well, how does that play to the base?
Memories are still present (probably due to a widespread familiarity with Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911) of Gore's passivity in the face of the Supreme Court intervention to end the recount in Florida; that, combined with the Oz-like baleful Russian bogeyman hacker that Democratic leaders and Obama administration officials have conjured up in the present day to obscure the party's venality and intellectual bankruptcy, effectively put Hillary in a box. Thanks to Stein and her campaign manager, the former Green Party presidential candidate, David Cobb, Hillary had to join the recount.
The Clinton campaign will not contribute financially to the effort, which has been funded by small contributions. But it will pay to have its own lawyers present at the recount, campaign officials said.
The Obama administration issued a statement to The New York Times on Friday in response to questions about intelligence findings related to Russian interference in the election. In the statement, it said it had concluded that the election was free of interference.
The administration issued a second statement on Saturday saying that “the federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyberactivity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on Election Day.”
Mrs. Clinton conceded the race to Mr. Trump early on Nov. 9, when it became clear that he would have a large margin of victory in the Electoral College. But as her lead in the popular vote has grown — it now exceeds two million votes — her base has increasingly pressured her to challenge the results.
That has been fueled in part by how aggressively the Clinton campaign spread the word of Russian involvement in the theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and from the personal account of John D. Podesta, the campaign’s chairman. The campaign also charged that the Russians were behind fake news about Mrs. Clinton’s health, among other stories — a claim supported to some extent by recent studies.
Some critics saw those accusations as an effort to shift the discussion from mistakes the Clinton campaign had made in taking on Mr. Trump.
Mr. Elias’s post offered a revealing look at how much time and energy the campaign had spent in the past two weeks looking for evidence of Russian hacking or other irregularities, and how it had tried to keep those efforts secret.
“Since the day after the election, we have had lawyers and data scientists and analysts combing over the results to spot anomalies that would suggest a hacked result,” Mr. Elias wrote.
“Most of those discussions have remained private, while at least one has unfortunately been the subject of leaks,” he wrote, a reference to conversations between Mr. Podesta and a group of experts that included J. Alex Halderman, a computer scientist with deep experience in the vulnerabilities of voting systems.
Mr. Halderman recently put his own post on Medium, describing his suspicions and the case for recounts. But even he doubted that the election result would change.But what of the Greens? Is Trump correct? Is this a money-making scam? Yes, I think it is. David Cobb has done this before -- in 2004, along with the Libertarian presidential candidate, with a recount in Ohio. I have met David Cobb. He is shitbird, a peddler of snake oil. But that didn't prevent me from voting for Stein this go-round, nor did it stop me from contributing $50 to the recount effort. Why is it permissible for only the major parties, the two branches of the duopoly, to fleece the public and lard their pantries? Why can't the minor parties join the barbecue now and then? And it appears that the recount fund drive has been wildly successful. Stein has already raised over $6 million, well on the way to achieving her goal of $7 million, which would double the amount she raised during the campaign.
Jeffrey St. Clair inveighs against Stein in his weekly must-read "Roaming Charges" column:
What in the world is Jill Stein up to? She is trying to raise more $2 million for recounts in WI, Michigan & Penn, recounts that presumably aren’t about getting a bigger vote total for the Green Party, but trying to find “lost” votes for HRC. If HRC isn’t willing to stand up for her own voters (assuming there are lost votes) why the hell should the Greens? What’s the goal? To be able to say: “I didn’t cost Hillary the election, I tried to win it for her?”
This smells of Stein’s campaign manager David Cobb to me, who in 2004 really wanted the Greens to run a stealth campaign so as not to be tarnished by reelection of Bush. (Indeed, the Wisconsin recount has nothing to do with the Green Party itself. The executive committee voted 5-3 to reject Stein and Cobb’s request that they sponsor the recounts.) Shortly after the 2004, elections Cobb spear-headed an audit of the returns from Ohio, the state that sank John Kerry. Many of the Greens are simply disaffect liberals, who really want to be teleported back to the Democratic Party of the 70s and 80s.
Nearly 100 million eligible voters didn’t vote. Stein would be better served spending some of the $2 million turning them Green, organizing their own party, providing legal support for Standing Rock protesters, investing it in the Powerball lottery or almost anything other than auditing the vote for Hillary. But if, as with Sanders, Stein uses that $2 million (or even $200,000 or $20,000 or $2000 or $200) to help the candidate she rightly assailed as a threat to peace, the environment and working people during the campaign, then Stein will have defrauded the very people who supported her.
The end result, even if successful in revealing some hijinks in the voting machines, as in Ohio 2004, will be to make more “legitimate” the very electoral process that kept the Green Party off the ballot in many states and locked it out of the debates. I don’t see that as any kind of win for independent parties. It will only serve to improve and restore confidence in the two-party system that crushes every aspiration of the Green Party’s own members.
If Stein/Cobb recount initiative is really about preserving integrity of the democratic process, why only investigate states HRC narrowly lost and not the ones–NH, MN–she narrowly won?But St. Clair, usually so perceptive, misses how much the Dems loathe this recount effort. The recount forces Dems to actively collaborate in the kind of conspiracy-theory thinking that they found so disreputable in Trump. Also, party leaders despise it when their base bolts off the reservation. And this is certainly a case of that.
St. Clair bemoans any renewed legitimacy the duopoly might enjoy thanks to the recount, but he misses the damage to an already discredited Democratic Party if the recount reveals zero evidence of a hack (something which FiveThirtyEight sees as a foregone conclusion). Then all the hyperventilating about a hostile power hijacking U.S. democracy will be exposed for what it is -- a flimsy cover story meant to protect out-of-touch elites from the voters.
I have to say that the Washington Post's David Weigel, "Why are people giving Jill Stein millions of dollars for an election recount?" is closer to the mark when he laments that,
For Democrats, Stein's role in the campaign resurrects some of the worst aspects of the campaign. It directs liberal anger toward a hopeless goal. It feeds into a Russian story line promoted on RT — that American democracy is awfully flimsy, considering that the country claims to lead the world. And it helps a third party that can split Democratic votes.