31 October 2016

Burying the Hatch Act, or: Are the Democrats digging their own grave?

When you read the fine print in reports of the FBI investigation of the computer used by former Rep. Anthony Weiner and his former wife Huma Abedin, the situation looks less dire than either Democrats or Republicans are making it out to be. As I understand it, the FBI is taking action simply because Abedin was Secretary of State Clinton's deputy chief of staff. Since there appears to have been State Department correspondence in her share of the emails, due diligence requires the FBI to go through them to see if any of them violate the rules against classified correspondence. In other words, the FBI hasn't actually found anything on Clinton, much less a "smoking gun," but they are obliged to look for something. It's the panic in the Democratic camp that makes Clinton look guilty more than anything else right now. You would think that people like Sen. Reid, the Minority Leader, had just discovered that President Obama, in one of his occasional fits of bipartisanship, had appointed a Republican to head the FBI. Reid reached the height of Democratic  hysteria over the weekend by accusing Director Comey, the Obama appointee, of violating the federal Hatch Act by publicizing the Bureau's investigation of the Weiner-Abedin computer. The Hatch Act, passed in 1939 and much amended since then, forbids certain federal employees from "us[ing their] official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election." But if Comey's investigation, or his publicizing it, affects the results of the 2016 presidential election, would that really be his fault? Reid's reasoning seems to be that Comey, a Republican -- albeit one condemned across the board by fellow Republicans earlier this year for not recommending prosecution of Clinton -- has self-evident partisan motives for publicizing an investigation that actually has been going on for several weeks below the surface. To those who try not to see everything through partisan lenses, this does not follow. If anything, the public has an imperative right to know if and why a candidate for office is under investigation -- though in this instance a computer, not a candidate, is being scrutinized -- regardless of anyone's feelings about any of the other candidates. The public then has a right not to give a damn, as millions won't, but to suggest that the electorate is better off not knowing, or that it's unfair somehow for this to come out, is despicable.

I don't really want Donald Trump to become President, but that doesn't exempt any of his rivals from accountability to the law. If Comey's investigation dissuades people from voting for Clinton, and if the American liberal left can't anticipate this by coordinating itself behind some other candidate, even a write-in, over the course of a week in this Information Age, it will just be too bad. I don't mean that flippantly, as I have little confidence in Trump, but the only reason he's remotely close to becoming President is that millions of liberals and progressives refused to consider an alternative to Hillary Clinton. In all seriousness, if things had gone differently Donald Trump would sound like Joe McCarthy with the DTs right now raving about Commies and Bernie Sanders would win in a landslide next week. There was a piece on BBC America today that noted that Trump and Clinton are our only realistic alternatives for the presidency because they're the choices of approximately 9% of the entire American electorate. Something is profoundly wrong with the way we choose candidates, much less Presidents, when so many of us are forced to be so absurdly, shamefully defensive of these two wretches, and things may only get worse over the next week. Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Because of the stupidity of Americans. That is why we have the 2 reprehensible reprobates running for the oval office. I keep saying, and it gets no less true, America won't get the President it needs, it will get the President it deserves. The average American has become such a turd, such an anti-intellectual pile of excrement, that Clinton and tRump have become the only two "viable" options. And, logically speaking, tRump is the logical choice, ONLY because he'll have no support in Congress, so will be unable to cause any problems outside of 4 years of embarrassment for the GOP and ammunition for liberal comedians. I have no desire to see tRump in office, but even less desire to see a lying slime bag like Clinton in office.

Samuel Wilson said...

If Trump wins next week, the next two years, at least, will be decided by the vote for Speaker of the House. You can bet that Trump will recruit someone to run against Ryan. If Ryan wins, Trump will most likely be thwarted as you predict. If Ryan loses, all bets are off, at least in the House.