Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Not So "Good News" for Hillary Clinton


Listening to FBI Director James Comey at his press conference, I was reminded of that old "good news / bad news" joke which seems rather apropos here.

Doctor: I have some good news and some bad news.
Patient: What's the good news?
Doctor: You have 24 hours to live.
Patient: What's the bad news then?
Doctor: I've been trying to reach you since yesterday.

Yes, Hillary Clinton will not be indicted for her use of a private email server, and that is certainly good news; but to any relatively objective person who was paying attention to what Comey had to say, this was hardly the sort of good news the Clinton campaign was expecting to hear. Over a span of 14 minutes, Comey not only ripped Clinton for being "extremely careless," he ostensibly tore to shreds virtually every claim she has made to justify her conduct. In the interest of being fair minded, I'll list them:

She claimed she did not send or receive anything that was classified at the time. However, the FBI found at least 115 emails that were so marked. Furthermore, Clinton should've known that those emails were classified. "There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation," Comey said.

She claimed she provided all her work-related emails. The FBI discovered thousands of work-related emails that Clinton did not turn over. Even more damning is the knowledge that many thousands more emails might well have been deleted due to what Comey described as a lack of archiving on her part.

The campaign insisted its lawyers read through all the emails before deleting the rest. But Comey believes that isn't true. "Instead," he said, "they relied on header information and used search terms to try to find all work-related emails among the reportedly more than 60,000 total emails remaining on Secretary Clinton's personal system in 2014." As someone who has conducted his fair share of web searches using key words or phrases, if that is indeed what Clinton's lawyers did, they more than likely deleted tens of thousands of potential work-related emails without even realizing it.

She insisted her private email account was about convenience. The fact is that, according to Comey, Clinton "used several different servers" and "numerous mobile devices to view and send email on that personal domain." That is neither convenient, nor simple.

There is no evidence her server was hacked. While that may be technically true, Comey said it's far more likely that the opposite was true due to the fact that the server was never protected with the appropriate software. Comey added that "she also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries."

Not only don't I think this matter is resolved, Comey's timing in issuing his statement means that for the next four months Clinton won't just have her poor judgement to answer for, but a series of misstatements that Donald Trump will be able to bring up over and over again. So long as the FBI continued its investigation, the media was focused on what the outcome would be and Clinton was able to frame the discussion as yet another fake scandal like Benghazi. Well, thanks to Comey, this is no longer a fake scandal but a very real threat to the campaign. And the sad truth is that Hillary can't blame this on the GOP, or Fox News or anyone but herself.

Throughout this entire ordeal I have defended Clinton on the merits, convinced that this was much ado about nothing. It clearly was much more than anybody suspected. Will it cost her the election? It's still too early to tell. After all, she's not exactly running against Pope Francis. But should the "Never Trump" movement succeed in taking the nomination away from Il Duce and giving it to, say, John Kasich, that's a whole different ballgame. Kasich was already leading Clinton in the polls prior to Comey's press conference. Should he emerge from a brokered convention as the GOP nominee, we could well be looking at a Republican landslide.

However, that possibility remains remote at best. Like it or not, the GOP appears stuck with Trump and the Democrats in general, and Clinton in particular, should consider themselves quite fortunate that that is the case.

Every once in a while the Titanic manages to miss the iceberg and make it to port safely.

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