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Hillary Clinton’s Lament

“I’m back to being an active citizen and part of the resistance.”

— Hillary Clinton, May 2, 2017

Predictability in these tumultuous times will get you removed from office, or render you unelectable. Such a tendency has more than just a faint stain of the establishment, however accurate this might be in fact.

This is not a point the defeated presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, can accept.  Still smarting from a well-deserved rout last November, one that turned over not just the applecart but an entire country, she persists in her laments about the puncturing role of Russian interference (such powers!), WikiLeaks, and the hand played by FBI director James B. Comey on October 28.  Green with Oval Office envy, she has obscenely suggested that he is now “part of the resistance”.

On Tuesday, Clinton fantasised more than she reflected before the soft queries of Christiane Amanpour in Midtown Manhattan.  “If the election had been on Oct. 27, I’d be your president.”  Her loss was the consequence of “the intervening events in the last 10 days” of the campaign.[1]

Comey’s October letter to Congress outlined how the FBI had “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” connected with the private email server Clinton had used when secretary of state.

Before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Comey had to revisit the October 28 letter, and the events leading up to its drafting. “It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election.  But honestly, it wouldn’t change the decision.”

On whether he should have kept mum on the issue, Comey was adamant.  “Concealment, in my view, would have been catastrophic.”  In carrying out the decision, he conceded that it would be “disastrous for me personally.”

The Democrats, instead of running a fresh broom with firm bristles through their entire organisation, have gone against the man, thereby mimicking the President: attacking the chief of a security organisation.  A bruising defeat can be so disorienting.

For Rep. Adam Schiff of California, “Nothing excuses the disparate way he handled [Trump and Clinton’s cases respectively].  I don’t think in any way he justified both and what he did and why he treated those investigations so differently.”[2]

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California also wanted “to hear how the FBI will regain that faith and trust.  We need straightforward answers to our questions, and we want to hear how you’re going to lead the FBI going forward.  We never, ever, want anything like this to happen again.”

Another angle on this is the less than subtle suggestion that Comey cannot be trusted when it comes to dealing with matters touching upon Trump (of course, that man is merely the President).  Ears pricked up when Senator Amy Klobuchar asked if the director would brief the Senate and House Intelligence Committees on the results of the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s Russia connection.  Comey suggested that he would only do so on receiving permission from the Department of Justice.

What further troubled such Democrats as Senator Richard Blumenthal was Comey’s refusal to commit to revealing whether the White House had been intransigent with the FBI.  Blumenthal’s doubts had been cleared: it would require a special prosecutor to oversee this task.

Comey’s current visage for the Democrats is that of demon and compromiser, cowed before power, but it was the same man who, as acting attorney general during the Bush administration, refused the request by the White House to reauthorise a warrantless eavesdropping regime.

Comey’s fabled electoral influence has been given added ballast by such pollsters (dare we ever believe them again?) as Nate Silver, who, with the perfect vision of hindsight, insists that the Comey letter “probably cost Clinton the election”.

Silver suggests that the news cycle had been “upended”, halving “Clinton’s lead in the polls, imperilling her position in the Electoral College.”[3]  Even with a halving of the lead, the assumption then was that she would canter in, albeit with an affected limp.

To be fair to the retrospective Silver, there is a qualification that follows, even if it seems a touch disingenuous. “Other factors may have played a larger role in her defeat, and it’s up to the Democrats to examine those as they choose their strategy for 2018 and 2020.”

As things stand, the Democrats, including their fallen Presidential candidate, refuse any serious self-analysis.  Clinton’s concessions to errors of judgment are generally minor: there is always some greater, sabotaging cause she feels far more blameworthy.

The point pivots on assumptions that the election was done and dusted before the first ballot was cast.  Having deemed herself the most appropriate candidate, and Trump the demonic front for the deplorables, a loss revealed that snow balls do have a chance of surviving a fire-and-brimstone hell.

That snow ball, of course, is proving more erratic than ever.  Persistently entertaining in his viciousness, Trump’s own dim view of the matter is that the two rotters were paired in a historically convenient match, a dance of fakers.  “FBI director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!  The phony…”[4]

Notes. 

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/02/us/clinton-trump-interview.html

[2] http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/331816-schiff-rips-comeys-disparate-handling-of-clinton-trump

[3] https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-comey-letter-probably-cost-clinton-the-election/

[4] https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/859601184285491201

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Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

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