Has the Hillary campaign run out of oppo research surprises?

It has been taken as a given that the Hillary Clinton campaign has been withholding a devastating negative story about Donald Trump until just days before next Tuesday.  After all, the Clintons have been masters of digging up dirt on people who get in their way.  And Donald Trump is not known for reticence, especially where the ladies are concerned.

So we wait.  But what if the cupboard is bare?  There is reason to think that might be what is going on.

The Access Hollywood tape of the private conversation between Billy Bush and Donald Trump in 2005 would have been the perfect surprise for release the Friday before Election Day.[*]  It is the capstone of a narrative that the Hillary campaign has carefully built about Trump: that he abuses women.  That narrative was chosen because it targets Trump’s Achilles heel, as seen by the Hillaryites: female voters.

Had it been released this Friday instead of on October 7, it would have amounted to a confession by Trump to the charges of various women dug up to accuse him of sexist behavior and worse.  They way it worked out, they went public after the Access Hollywood tape was hastily released to counter the WikiLeaks onslaught.  If the orchestration had been optimal, they would,have made their charges first, in mid-October.  Then the release of the Access Hollywood Tape would have absolutely closed the case that they were telling the truth.

There also would have been too little time left for the Trump campaign to develop alterative narratives in response.  Fresh in mind as the remaining half of the voters go to the polls on Tuesday, the story would have had far more impact than it will after a month of reflection, softening, and attention to other issues.

Something else happened on October 7, 2016: the release of the first WikiLeaks tranche of emails from John Podesta’s hacked email account.  Coincidence?  The actual publication of the tapes first came from the Washington Post.  Was there enough lead time for the tapes to be leaked by oppo reserachers to the WaPo?  I don’t know.  But it is an awfully startling coincidence.  And, in fact, the tape did drive out discussion of WikiLeaks from the mainstream media for about a week, as intended.

The problem is that so far there have been 24 other WikiLeaks dumps, and more promised.  The news, by definition, has to be new.  And WikiLeaks has new material coming out daily.  Trump boasting about his celebrity power over women is old.  We have heard it over and over again.

The most powerful evidence that the Hilary campaign has already expended its best ordnance is that yesterday, in the face of a vanishing lead in the polls, the best that Hillary could muster was an appearance by a noticeably pudgy Alicia Machado before a heavily Hispanic audience in Dade City, Florida.

Reruns versus breaking news is not a contest they can win.

I might be surprised with something in the next few days.  I hear that it is very difficult to construct anything out of concrete in New York City without paying off dodgy characters, for instance.  But to be successful, a revelation has to play off a pre-existing worry or doubt about the opposition candidate.  We’ve seen nothing from Hillary charging Trump to be a womanizer, brute, and tax evader.  But about the Mafia, we’ve heard nada.


[*] We use the term “October Surprise” to describe a late-breaking oppo research revelation.  But this year, Election Day is the latest possible date for the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.  If Election Day were the 4th, the Friday before it would be the last day in October.

It has been taken as a given that the Hillary Clinton campaign has been withholding a devastating negative story about Donald Trump until just days before next Tuesday.  After all, the Clintons have been masters of digging up dirt on people who get in their way.  And Donald Trump is not known for reticence, especially where the ladies are concerned.

So we wait.  But what if the cupboard is bare?  There is reason to think that might be what is going on.

The Access Hollywood tape of the private conversation between Billy Bush and Donald Trump in 2005 would have been the perfect surprise for release the Friday before Election Day.[*]  It is the capstone of a narrative that the Hillary campaign has carefully built about Trump: that he abuses women.  That narrative was chosen because it targets Trump’s Achilles heel, as seen by the Hillaryites: female voters.

Had it been released this Friday instead of on October 7, it would have amounted to a confession by Trump to the charges of various women dug up to accuse him of sexist behavior and worse.  They way it worked out, they went public after the Access Hollywood tape was hastily released to counter the WikiLeaks onslaught.  If the orchestration had been optimal, they would,have made their charges first, in mid-October.  Then the release of the Access Hollywood Tape would have absolutely closed the case that they were telling the truth.

There also would have been too little time left for the Trump campaign to develop alterative narratives in response.  Fresh in mind as the remaining half of the voters go to the polls on Tuesday, the story would have had far more impact than it will after a month of reflection, softening, and attention to other issues.

Something else happened on October 7, 2016: the release of the first WikiLeaks tranche of emails from John Podesta’s hacked email account.  Coincidence?  The actual publication of the tapes first came from the Washington Post.  Was there enough lead time for the tapes to be leaked by oppo reserachers to the WaPo?  I don’t know.  But it is an awfully startling coincidence.  And, in fact, the tape did drive out discussion of WikiLeaks from the mainstream media for about a week, as intended.

The problem is that so far there have been 24 other WikiLeaks dumps, and more promised.  The news, by definition, has to be new.  And WikiLeaks has new material coming out daily.  Trump boasting about his celebrity power over women is old.  We have heard it over and over again.

The most powerful evidence that the Hilary campaign has already expended its best ordnance is that yesterday, in the face of a vanishing lead in the polls, the best that Hillary could muster was an appearance by a noticeably pudgy Alicia Machado before a heavily Hispanic audience in Dade City, Florida.

Reruns versus breaking news is not a contest they can win.

I might be surprised with something in the next few days.  I hear that it is very difficult to construct anything out of concrete in New York City without paying off dodgy characters, for instance.  But to be successful, a revelation has to play off a pre-existing worry or doubt about the opposition candidate.  We’ve seen nothing from Hillary charging Trump to be a womanizer, brute, and tax evader.  But about the Mafia, we’ve heard nada.


[*] We use the term “October Surprise” to describe a late-breaking oppo research revelation.  But this year, Election Day is the latest possible date for the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.  If Election Day were the 4th, the Friday before it would be the last day in October.