“There is no other Donald Trump,” Hillary Clinton likes to say about her opponent. “This is it.”
The events of the last two weeks—Trump’s two debate performances, the release of his bawdy comments about women in a 2005 video clip, his lashing out against Republicans who are deserting him—have proven Clinton correct on that count.
But the leak of thousands of hacked email exchanges among Clinton’s top advisers suggest the same can be said about her—at least in her role as a public figure. They capture a candidate, and a campaign, that seems in private exactly as cautious, calculating, and politically flexible as they appeared to be in public. The Clinton campaign underestimated and then fretted about rival candidate Bernie Sanders, worried about Joe Biden entering the primary race and Elizabeth Warren endorsing her opponent, plotted endlessly about managing Clinton’s image in the press, took advantage of its close ties to the Obama administration and the hierarchy of the Democratic Party, and took public positions to the left of comments Clinton herself made during private paid speeches to Wall Street firms.
In fairness to Clinton, the emails made public by WikiLeaks reveal little about her as a person. These were hacked from the accounts of John Podesta, her campaign chairman, and very few of them are from Clinton herself. But they do shed light on Clinton as a candidate by showing just how carefully her closest aides crafted the message she presents to the world, down to the wording of her tweets and the jokes she does—or doesn’t—choose to tell.