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Column: The Continuing Folly of the Clinton Email Drama

Column%3A+The+Continuing+Folly+of+the+Clinton+Email+Drama
Ali Alzeen

It was true 384 days ago when Sen. Bernie Sanders bellowed, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” at Secretary Hillary Clinton from a Democratic debate stage, and it’s true now.

No one seems to have informed FBI director James Comey. The g-man has always marched to the beat of his own drum, continually finding himself under attack from both the left and the right, usually alternately, but sometimes simultaneously.

In an episode often repeated as a testament to his fine character, Comey, to his infinite credit, did successfully stare down the Bush administration.

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In 2004, he was the acting attorney general while his boss, John Ashcroft, was in the hospital. He had opposed the extension of a Bush-favored domestic wiretapping program; the White House responded by sending two men to Ashcroft’s hospital room to get approval from him. Comey had to race to the George Washington University hospital to confront them, at which point Ashcroft indicated—accurately—that Comey was the proper authority on the matter.

This has almost single-handedly earned the FBI director a reputation for moral rectitude.

Nonetheless, he was attacked on both sides when, this July, he announced the end of a probe into Clinton’s private email server, while also going out of his way to note her “careless behavior.” This last comment was seen as an unnecessary piece of editorializing, and has fueled an endless vortex of speculation and moral indignation on right-wing news outlets.

Now, in an act that has been described as everything from a technical formality to a partisan attack, Comey wrote a letter to Congress on Friday indicating that emails relevant to the Clinton investigation had been found which needed to be brought to light to “supplement the record.”

How Comey thinks he is supplementing the record is beyond comprehension at this point. The letter itself is vague and appears to be written with the intention of conveying as little information as humanly possible.

Fortunately for Comey, congressional Republicans live in a void of actual information. So it was little surprise when Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, leaped into the fray, tweeting: “case reopened.”

Of course, it’s not really true.

Here’s the problem: It doesn’t matter. Republicans, elected and otherwise, have used Clinton scandals, real and imagined, to rally their bases against the greater evil that is the former senator and self-described pantsuit enthusiast.

It looks good for Rep. Chaffetz to swing back to his home district and declare that he has been doing righteous battle against Secretary Clinton.

So, whatever happens now—likely nothing—Comey has provided a gigantic boost to the Trump campaign. Despite the fact that the Clinton campaign has urged the FBI to release more detailed information, the right is finally back on the offensive, at last provided with a distraction from the increasingly visible moral turpitude of its candidate.

And Comey had to have known this. Even if this was not a politically motivated attack, this letter has basically had the same effect.

So either, A.) the director of the FBI is openly assisting a presidential campaign 11 days from election day or B.) one of the nation’s top lawmen managed to put on blinders so big he couldn’t see the vile partisan reaction his letter would inspire.

In any case, he doesn’t come out looking good.

There is another issue with the email scandal: This election was an “emotions” contest; at this point the American public has basically given up pretending that it cares about issues and policy.

In this race of feelings, many right-leaning voters and officials have bent over backwards to paint Clinton as being on a lower moral plane than Donald Trump. Hercules himself would have struggled with this task, and so in defense of the sexual assault, lying, cheating and general rapacious manner of the Republican candidate, the right has come singing a shrill tune about, among other things, “the emails.”

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There are reasons to vote for Donald Trump. If the unequivocal pro-choice stance of the former secretary of state bothers you, it makes sense to vote Republican. If the prospect of Supreme Court judges named by a Democrat scares you, it makes sense to vote Republican.

But it makes no sense to vote Republican because of issues of trustworthiness related to Clinton’s emails. This was a lapse of judgement by a woman who has spent decades in the public eye, by a woman who has earned the admiration of her peers in some of the highest political offices in this country.

By evaluating her trustworthiness through the lens of this non-issue, you are opening up the Republican candidate to the same kind of “feelings evaluation.” It is true Mr. Trump has never held office, but in whatever arena he has occupied, he has shown the moral rectitude of a Frisbee.

Though this columnist would strongly discourage it, vote Republican if you must. There are reasons to mistrust Hillary Clinton, and there are reasons not to vote for her, but this is not one of them.

This is the craven rallying cry for the kinds of voters who shout “lock her up” at political rallies. The kinds of people, elected and otherwise, who harp extensively on the emails issue already oppose Clinton; they just need an easily explained exhibit of un-trustworthiness.

Oppose her for better reasons.


Follow Raad Zaghloul on Twitter.


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