Since a number of people have asked my thoughts about the election (you know who you are!), here are a few, from three days out. I’m not sure what, if anything, they add up to. (Any lurking critics of my ending a sentence with a preposition should recall Churchill’s response, calling such a complaint the sort of errant pedantry “up with which I will not put.”)
- Hillary and her campaign staff, as well as at least some enablers in the Justice Dept., the State Dept., and elsewhere, should be regarded at the moment as unindicted co-conspirators.
- The linchpin of this vast conspiracy is Loretta Lynch (pardon her, perhaps, as I argued here, but not the pun). Her abdication of her responsibility is what forced FBI Director Comey to assume responsibility that was not his in his disastrous July press conference. Unless, however, his statements there — inventing a heretofore non-existent legal standard distinguishing “extreme carelessness” from “gross negligence” and insisting that “no reasonable prosecutor” would prosecute on the Hillary email facts at hand — were scripted for him and a gun held to his head, he, too, bears a great deal of the responsibility for allowing the conspiracy to continue.
- My hunch is that this conspiracy was consummated in the infamous tarmac meeting between co-conspirator Lynch and co-conspirator Clinton (William Jefferson). I also suspect that co-conspirator Clinton (William Jefferson) made it abundantly clear to co-conspirator Lynch — perhaps by discussing evidence in his possession or control — that if she allowed warrants to be issued, evidence presented to a Grand Jury, etc., regarding co-conspirator Clinton (Hillary)’s email or the Clinton Foundation that President Obama would also definitely be ensnared in the ensuing legal proceedings. The president, Clinton (William Jefferson) may well have pointed out, is probably a co-conspirator as well, not only because of what he knew and when he knew it but also because of what he did — sending confidential and possibly classified information to Clinton (Hillary) on her insecure sever and subsequently lying about not knowing about that server until he saw press reports.
- A number of observers have described Clinton campaign “desperation” after Comey’s re-opening of the FBI investigation of the email and related information about the ongoing investigation of the Clinton Foundation. (Google “Clinton” and desperate” for examples.) I’m sure that’s true, but at this point I believe that the desperation in Clinton Inc. and among the various co-conspirators in and around the campaign has less to do with normal partisanship or even normal desire to enjoy the spoils of victory than with a frantic determination to stay out of jail, something that is assured only if they continue to control the Justice Dept.
- As of today it appears as though Hillary will probably eke out a narrow win but that the Republicans will continue to control the House and possibly even the Senate. Thus investigations will almost certainly continue (unless President Trump follows my advice) and evidence of crime and corruption will continue to ooze out, quite possibly leading to impeachment by the House. The Democrats in the Senate might well block a conviction and removal from office, but even if they don’t it is now not unreasonable to see on the horizon whispers about a constitutional horror not contemplated since Nixon: “What if they impeach the president and [she] refuses to leave?”
As I said at the beginning, I’m not sure where all of this leads, but one of the places it leads me is to a consideration of the views of the NeverTrumpers whom I consider reasonable (that excludes the major media, which no longer even promise objectivity, and Democrats, who were just about as vehemently opposed to McCain and Romney as they are to Trump, although they try to deny that.
Here, for example, from a few days ago is Ross Douthat, with whom I almost always agree and whose New York Times columns I admire and respect even on those rare occasions when I do disagree.
A vote for Trump is … a vote for a man who stands well outside the norms of American presidential politics, who has displayed a naked contempt for republican institutions and constitutional constraints, who deliberately injects noxious conspiracy theories into political conversation, who has tiptoed closer to the incitement of political violence than any major politician in my lifetime, whose admiration for authoritarian rulers is longstanding, who has endorsed war crimes and indulged racists and so on down a list that would exhaust this column’s word count if I continued to compile it….And what is striking is how many conservatives seem to have internalized that reality and justified their support for Trump anyway, on grounds that are similar to ones that the mainstream pro-life movement has rejected for four decades: Namely, that Hillary Clinton would usher in some particular evil so severe and irreversible that it’s better to risk burning things down, crashing the plane of state, or whatever metaphor for Trump’s potential effect on the republic you prefer, than to allow the other political party to hold the presidency for the next four years.
And here, also from a few days ago, is Charles Lane, perhaps the Washington Post‘s fairest and most balanced staff writer (I realize that’s not necessarily saying much):
Among the many manifestations of out-of-control factious spirit, none is more dismaying than the obeisance Republicans have paid their party’s patently unfit presidential candidate, Donald Trump, out of a combination of opportunism, blind factional loyalty and hatred of his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Now, the problem I have with Douthat’s and Lane’s NeverTrumpism is not so much disagreement with their view of Trump — though I do disagree with some of it — as with the conclusion they draw from it, a conclusion that follows only if one assumes his flaws pose more of a threat to the republic than Hillary’s.
Douthat, for example, must believe that Hillary’s serial, arrant, and arrogant lawlessness and lying “stands well inside the norms of American presidential politics.” I don’t believe that. I believe Nixon was the exception, not the norm. Similarly, turning to Lane, I believe that “Among the many manifestations of out-of-control factious spirit, none is more dismaying than the obeisance Democrats have paid their party’s patently unfit presidential candidate.”
Putting aside — as one should here in the consideration of fitness for office — all policy and partisan differences, it seems to me that all, or certainly the great preponderance, of the evidence of Trump’s lack of fitness concerns his personal demeanor and behavior, both verbal and actual — his descriptions and treatment of women, comments about immigrants and others, a general lack of self-discipline and self-control.
Hillary’s, on the other hand, involve what I think are violations not only of public trust but also, repeatedly, of law (forget the Espionage Act for a moment; does anyone recall the Federal Records Act?). She, too, after all, is not without character flaws as well, such as serial lying about matters both private (see Whitewater) and public. I believe Trump has said nothing to or about women, for example, that begins to approach the lie Hillary told to the grieving Benghazi mothers over the coffins of their sons. Not to mention — OK, I will mention it — her involvement in the treatment of Bill’s rape and harassment accusers.
So, yes, President Trump would not be an ideal role model for our children, but Hillary’s morals are not demonstrably better, and I believe the measures she would require of her Justice Dept. to keep her and her co-conspirators out of jail would make Eric Holder’s and Loretta Lynch’s — and yes, even Richard Nixon’s — politicization of Justice look like child’s play.
One can acknowledge Trump’s flaws, in short, and still believe that he does not represent as serious a threat to the republic as Hillary does.
Here are similar thoughts from InstaPundit’s Glenn Reynolds, in USA Today:
Hotel magnate Leona Helmsley famously said “only little people pay taxes.” Clinton seems to feel the same way about obeying laws.
The truth is, neither one of our leading candidates for president is a paragon of virtue. But only one of them has already made a habit of flouting the law while in office, selling favors and escaping the consequences, and only one of them is likely to be able to pull it off from the White House.
And that’s the problem. If Secretary of State Clinton, serving under a president and with an eye on winning a second term in the White House, wasn’t constrained by the rules, who will constrain her if she’s president?