I attended the Distinguished Speakers Series featuring Donna Brazile & Margaret Hoover on October 11th .
Ms. Brazile was currently serving as the interim National Chair for the Democratic National Convention, filling in aft Debbie Wasserman Shultz had stepped down after emails from the WikiLeaks hack of the DNC revealed the committee’s alleged preference for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the Democratic Primaries (something Donna Brazile did not bring up.
Margaret Hoover is president of the American Unity Fund, a non profit that supports conservative candidates who support equal rights for the LQBTQ community.
The conversation was meant to be an informal debate about issues in this campaign season from a left perspective and a right perspective, but the talk took place after the weekend that Trump’s Access Hollywood video came out, upending the Presidential race. Naturally, the conversation focused on what it meant for the election.
Having previously written about the video, what was most interesting in hindsight about the conversation was the confidence both speakers had about Hillary Clinton’s eventual victory, especially in light of new revelations. In fact, the entire conversation felt like an election “post mortem. ” Ms. Hoover spoke about the GOP’s need to broaden it’s base to become more inclusive, while Ms. Brazile spoke about keeping the Obama coalition together for future elections. Donald Trump actually winning the election was never entertained.
After the event, I was invited to meet the speakers with other student leaders at a catered reception. What was meant to be very casual meet and greet, became a first hand experience of a small event of this election cycle. Ms. Brazile almost immediately had to take a phone call and spent most of the reception on her phone, moving in and out of the room. What I learned later was that at that very moment a news story was breaking alleging that Ms. Brazile had leaked a question that was to be asked at a CNN Town Hall to the Clinton campaign.
WikiLeaks had struck again and the reception was not cut short, but accelerated. Perhaps as a default in damage control, Ms. Brazile conducted herself as if nothing was wrong and still posed for pictures, explaining the acceleration as something to do with scheduling and appearing on a news program. Smiling and projecting confidence, there nonetheless was a sense of worry that permeated her conversation that was not there and hour earlier during the event.
I had the opportunity to see first hand some of the things we have discussed in our class as it pertains to the immediacy of information, cyber security, and how the digital age affects politics.