Clinton was saying in private what she can’t or won’t in public. The e-mails hacked from the account of her campaign manager, John Podesta, and released by WikiLeaks, show her staff worrying over passages from her paid speeches that, if made public, could allow her to be portrayed as two-faced and overly friendly with corporate America. But when Clinton told one audience, “You need both a public and a private position,” she was describing what used to be considered normal politics—deploying different strategies to get groups with varying interests behind a policy. Before what Lawrence Summers called “the popularization of politics,” Lyndon Johnson required a degree of deception to pass civil-rights legislation. “It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually get where we need to be,” Clinton told her audience. “But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the backroom discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least.” Clinton would be comfortable and productive governing in back rooms—she was known for her quiet bipartisan efforts in the Senate. But Americans today, especially on the Trump right and the Sanders left, won’t give politicians anything close to that kind of trust. Radical transparency occasionally brings corruption to light, but it can also make good governance harder.
George Packer, “The Unconnected”, The New Yorker (31 October 2016), 59.