Editor’s Note: Connor Perrett, the moderator of the event, works on The New Political staff as a video producer.
Journalist Charlie Savage criticized the transparency of both the Barack Obama and George W. Bush administrations and shared his predictions for what the next president’s leadership might look like in the sixth 90 Minutes Series on Wednesday.
Savage said if Hillary Clinton is elected — an obvious outcome in his opinion — her time in office will be a continuation of Obama’s terms.
“She’ll probably be dealing with a Congress that has at least one house still controlled by Republicans, so she’s not going to be able to pass legislation to achieve her agenda,” said Savage, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Washington correspondent for New York Times. “She will probably be making very strong assertions of executive power and that will be controversial and lead to lawsuits and she’ll try to weather what she can and it’s going to be very messy.”
Clinton will have a closed and secretive administration as well, Savage predicted, based recent email leaks from her campaign. He raised concerns about her highly calculating public image team, saying people will have to be aware that they are dealing with strategic communicators.
“It doesn’t mean it’s a bad government,” Savage said. “Maybe it’s a professional government. From a journalist’s’ perspective, it means you have to constantly watch out for manipulation and be wondering if you see the whole story or whether a narrative is being planted.”
The elephant in the room, Donald Trump and his tumultuous candidacy, earned Savage’s deliberation as well. In his opinion, Trump would be resisted by many government officials since permanent civil service agencies act as an obstacle to presidents.
“I think that he would encounter a government, a military, intelligence community, they would probably not respect him very much,” Savage said. “And if he ordered them to do something, like resuming torture, they would probably resist.”
Savage pointed out that Obama’s campaign ran on the message of hope and change but failed to live up to some supporters’ expectations for him to stop the war on terror.
“He used drone strikes more than Bush and even deliberately killed an American citizen with a drone strike, which Bush had not done,” Savage said. “He is secretive and in a variety of respects, he defied the expectations created by his campaign rhetoric … on the civil liberties left, there’s a sense of betrayal.”
However, Savage criticized the Bush administration for its rash decisions; he said Bush was less likely than Obama to think through possible consequences.
The conversation was moderated by sophomore journalism major Connor Perrett, who said Savage’s insights were relevant to current events.
“It was great to be able to bring him here to campus so that students could listen to someone with so much experience and knowledge about so many issues impacting our world today,” Perrett said. “It was interesting to see how he spoke about Bush and Obama but also was able to look forward and apply his knowledge to what he said was an almost certain Clinton presidency.”