Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: Hysteria Amplified

Saturday saw the Clinton campaign add some edge to their demands for FBI Comey to clear things up, even as news spread that Comey had ignored Justice Department guidelines and a reportedly even a direct request from the AG in sending his letter that started all this speculation.  Experienced prosecutors are among the baffled.  A Guardian story is headlined: FBI stands guilty of an overtly political act at a crucial moment. 

Senior congressional Dems also pressed Comey to provide immediate answers: They called into question whether the FBI had “even obtained or reviewed” material from the Weiner device, implying that Comey had prioritized his political position ahead of the facts of the case. Challenging Comey to begin the fateful final full week of the election campaign with additional disclosures, the senators wrote that to do otherwise would be “irresponsible and a disservice to the American people”.

Wrote NYTimes columnist Frank Bruni: "This entire election is being conducted in the key of hysteria, and Comey just found a way to amplify that ugly music."

And there's the timing.  As Nate Silver tweeted: "The FBI story also broke at the exact time when the media was eager for a dramatic twist/complication in the "Clinton coasts" narrative."

But some hint of prosperity always brings out the worst in the Donald.  He continued making inflammatory statements and charges, not only about this tempest in a teapot (worse than Watergate indeed) but suggesting that election officials will throw away mail-in ballots "if they don't like them."

Trump's inflammatory talk about the election has already led to the first documented case of voter fraud--a woman in Iowa attempted to vote twice--for Trump, because she believed the Donald that the election is rigged and she was afraid that her vote would be changed to Clinton.

And things continue to trend ugly at Trump events, with anti-Semitic chants and other threatening behavior.  Trump saw members of his crowd upset about a black man in their midst,  then Donald accused him from the stage of being a paid protestor and encouraged security to take him out of the rally, which they did.  It soon turned out that the man was a Trump supporter.

And if the Comey enigma has added some uncertainty by motivating Trump voters (although the Clinton campaign may have more cards to play in that regard), it hasn't done anything to even begin to repair the profound damage the Republican party has inflicted on itself, as that sort of story continues to come out.

Nobody knows yet if this email story has staying power, although it clearly will be the focus of the Sunday noise shows. First reaction won't show up in polls until midweek and if Clinton's numbers go down, election day becomes more of a drama.

 Nate Silver outlined four possible Clinton campaign responses Saturday morning, and by evening it was clear that #2 was in operation as well as #1, with the possibility of #4 to come.  But how the Clinton campaign deals with this may say a lot about a Clinton presidency.  Clinton herself was up to the challenge of the debates.  Now we'll see if she, her campaign and the Dems are up to this one.

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