Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
FBI Director James Comey’s reopening of the investigation into Clinton’s emails has roiled once more the presidential election. Donald Trump has called the decision “courageous” and “bigger than Watergate.” Clinton, the DOJ, Democrat Senators, and their media flying monkeys are all having conniption fits over their quondam champion’s defection, calling the announcement “appalling,” “absurd,” “strange,” “deeply troubling,” an “attack,” and “unprecedented.” The bigger question is whether it will move enough voters over to Trump’s side and put him in the White House.
There’s no doubt that Comey’s announcement eleven days before the election is mystifying. Not because it is “unprecedented” as the Democrats keep squealing. They had no such qualms when the weekend before the 1992 election, special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh indicted a poll-surging George H.W. Bush for his alleged involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal. No, the mystery is Comey’s motives. Is Comey like Conrad’s Lord Jim, now sacrificing his FBI career––sure to be over if the notoriously vengeful Clinton is elected–– to atone for having besmirched his office, reputation, and the principle of equality before the law in service to careerist self-interest? Or was he facing a mutiny and leaks from disgruntled FBI investigators? To quote one of our candidates, “At this point, what difference does it make?”
The real question is whether it will make a difference to the voters. Right now we don’t know if the content of the 650,000 emails from the conjugal laptop used by serial sexter Anthony Weiner, estranged husband of Clinton vizier Huma Abedin, will reveal something damning like, say, classified materials. But we already know that Clinton passed classified information over an unsecured server, which didn’t bother Comey back in July. So what could be in these new emails that rises above Comey’s sophistic “extreme carelessness,” and reaches the statute’s “gross negligence”? Or has Comey found new evidence of Hillary’s “intent,” his other exculpatory sophistry that had little to do with the law? There had to be something that made Comey subject himself to the scorched-earth wrath of the Democrats.
Whatever is found on the Abedin laptop, one wonders if will even matter to a sufficient number of voters. They have shrugged off so many scandals, lies, and failures that should have sunk a candidacy, that it’s hard to calculate what level of incompetence, unpleasantness, dishonesty, sleaze, and crime is disqualifying anymore. Here are the greatest hits from Hillary’s catalogue:
Back in the day, just a few of these gaffes, deceptions, and failures would probably have sunk a campaign for Congress, let alone the White House.
And Mr. Trump’s offenses?
In short, Trump lacks the superficial patina of rhetorical decorum and sober demeanor that most modern presidents and candidates spray over their public personas in order to hide their private flaws and vices. Just ask Hillary’s various Secret Service details how wide the distance between public and private personalities can be.
The voters will decide for themselves which candidate’s catalogue of sins is more disqualifying and dangerous. But whatever happens, it’s clear that we the people have lowered the bar of acceptability for presidential candidates.
This transformation happened decades before Trump and Hillary came along. After Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury related to his sordid sexual depredations in the White House, his approval ratings were 73%. He left the White House with a 66% rating, higher than any president since Harry Truman, including Ronald Reagan. Think about it: the president who sexually exploited an intern and was impeached for perjury left office with higher approval ratings than the president who rescued the economy and tossed the Soviet Union into its own dustbin of history.
That was the inflection point for our political culture. No wonder that Barack Obama’s lack of any real-world experience or achievement, left-wing views, self-confessed drug use, friends like the anti-American racist Jeremiah Wright and unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, and gaping holes in his biography were unimportant to 45 million voters. So why now are we shocked, shocked that off-brand candidates like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are vying for the presidency? Decrying these candidates is closing the barn door after the horses of virtue, wisdom, and decorum have already long gone.
So absent a smoking howitzer in the next WikiLeaks dump, Comey’s restart of the investigation, which in any case will take months to complete, will probably not be the game-changing October surprise many hope for and others dread, especially given a corrupt media’s studied indifference to anything that damages their candidate. Then again, the rapid erosion of Hillary’s support is drawing analogies to Reagan’s late surge against Carter.
Either way, on November 8, most people will vote their economic interests and their ideological passions, and decide based on subjective perceptions and silly criteria like “cares for people like me.” Or they might just finally realize that Hillary’s accumulated offenses are intolerable. But what that standard of selection will deliver is anybody’s guess.
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