Friday, October 28, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: Feeding the Demagogue

Hillary Clinton must be feeling pretty down tonight.  Everything was going so well, and now this.

But after all these years without a World Series her hometown team the Chicago Cubs lost their first home game 1-0.  Bummer.

As for the other story, yes, that must be kind of frustrating.  Not only did the FBI director issue an enigmatic statement about emails that apparently haven't yet been read, he did so on a Friday afternoon and then went home.  So with little else to talk about, the media frenzy will continue in an information vacuum all weekend.

The NYTimes updated story says:

[FBI Director Comey}said the emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, which law enforcement officials said was an F.B.I. investigation into illicit text messages from Mr. Weiner to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. Mr. Weiner, a former Democratic congressman from New York, is married to Huma Abedin, the top [Clinton]aide.

Mr. Comey's letter said that the F.B.I. would review the emails to determine if they improperly contained classified information, which is tightly controlled by the government. Senior law enforcement officials said that it was unclear if any of the emails were from Mrs. Clinton’s private server. And while Mr. Comey said in his letter that the emails “appear to be pertinent,” the F.B.I. had not yet examined them.

The Times also notes that the FBI doesn't even know if the emails are duplicates of ones they already have seen.   Rolling Stone quotes an NBC reporter, the veteran Pete Williams, who says the emails weren't written by Clinton.  Nor were these emails withheld. "It doesn't appear that the the campaign or the Clintons or the State Department had emails that they didn't give to the FBI, and that the FBI someone found them some other way," Williams said. "'It's not like that,' they say."

The New Yorker quotes Williams further:“It looks at this point like being very thorough and very careful, not that this is going . . . to be a game changer,” Williams told viewers. “One official said, ‘I don’t sense alarm bells going on at the F.B.I. and the Justice Department over this.’ ” Finally, Williams said there was no chance that the F.B.I. would finish up its investigation into the newfound e-mails before the election, on November 8th.

Comey later confirmed that the FBI investigation into Clinton had not been "re-opened," since technically it had never been closed.  But a lot of media outlets went with the re-opened headline, along with a lot of scare words about the effect on the campaign.

For Clintonites the good news is how the campaign immediately responded.  First John Podesta issued a letter calling for more information, and criticizing Comey's extraordinary note (sent to ranking Republican members of Congress, who leaked it)  just 11 days before the election.

Later candidate Hillary Clinton held a press conference and called on the F.B.I. to “explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay.” She said, “Voting is under way, so the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately.”  This became the headline of the evening's stories.  She also said she doubted it would affect the voting: people had made up their minds about the emails and about the candidates.

Sending the story back to the FBI was smart.  It should take at least a big part of the attention away from her directly.  Now Trump is trumpeting his corruption theme, but the question is how much credibility he has on anything at this point.  Still, it doesn't take much to feed the demagogue.  

Eric Kilgore is among those who don't think it's going to matter much to the presidential outcome, but could cut into the margin and help out some downballot GOPers.  It may energize Rs, but it's also likely to energize Democrats, who see a Republican FBI director inserting himself in the election on flimsy grounds.There are also calls for Comey to resign.

Still, there's no limit to media hysteria these days, complete with erroneous headlines, and mere hours after it started the WPost called the story "out of control."  Maybe it's time to remind everyone of several ongoing criminal investigations into Trump.  Salon also noted that the FBI is investigating connections between the Trump campaign and Russian hackers, but hasn't said anything about that in public.

But I must say that this is exactly why I didn't want to get involved in observing this election campaign at all.  This entire absurd campaign has been tragically irrelevant to what the next President faces, and the challenges that President must meet, with the future of civilization at stake.

One thing the idiocy of today doesn't change: the whole damn thing will be over in 11 days.

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