The Lamest Leaked Email Scandal of 2016 Has Already Begun
If I can claim expertise in anything, it is in leaked listserv emails that become the focal points of scandals. In my official judgment, the "secret emails of the men who may run Hillary Clinton's campaign" are a particularly flavorless nothingburger—interesting for their secrecy, and for the intent behind the leak, but that's about it. If Joshua Green's trove of Clinton 2008 emails was "Jaws," this batch is "Sharknado 2: The Second One."
ABC's story about the leaks, written by Rick Klein, is a rich source of news-comedy. In it, we learn that an email list started by Democratic strategist Robby Mook (and joined by fellow maker Marlon Marshall) featured "an aggressive tone in rallying their friends behind political causes, in exchanges that are often self-mocking and sometimes border on being profane." If you encounter 100 people in politics, 99 of them will talk this way.
Mook et al refer to his circle as "the Mook mafia," but alliterative nicknames, while pathetic, aren't exactly uncommon either. If you are offended by nerdy people referring to their circle as a "mafia," you should avoid reading any coverage of Silicon Valley. Klein even notes that "the existence of a 'Mook Mafia' of friends and loyalists who extend through Mook’s previous campaign work has long been known," but that "the emails themselves, though, have not been seen publicly before." This is something that could be said of the emails you just sent to the guy who's coming to clean your gutter between 8 and 10 on Monday morning.
On to the damaging stuff. "Their inside jokes sometimes come at the expense of fellow Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton," reports Klein. Uh-uh. What might that mean?
“The Mafia has finally built a bridge to the 21st century,” Bill Clinton is jokingly quoted as having said in an email that appears to have been written by Marshall. “This is even more exciting than walking through the back of the Bellagio.”
That's it? That's it. Hardly the harshest possible ribbing for a president who was impeached after an in-office sex scandal. An email from Marshall, encouraging the mafia to help out (insert sad trombone sound here) Martha Coakley, is more promising:
“F U Republicans. Mafia till I die,” he wrote. “If you have just a few minutes, hop on that activate and punish those voters!” (“Activate” is an apparent reference to a software program allowing volunteers to contact targeted voters by phone from anywhere in the country.)
To me, the surprise is that he does not even spell out what "F U" means when writing to a private group.
By general agreement, the content of these emails is not scandalous at all. No one suggests anything that they wouldn't blurt on Twitter. The emerging Smart Take about the emails is, as GOP strategist/Huntsman 2012 veteran John Weaver suggests, that "the infighting to be Hillary's 1st (& 2nd) campaign manager/leader will be more negative than GOP presidential nomination fight." It certainly reveals that the sort of Democrats angling to work for the only credible 2016 Democratic campaign are creatures of This Town. But we didn't know that already?