The media devotes more time to Trump’s re-tweets than to Hillary’s unpunished felonies. While her mishandling of classified information causes reporters to yawn, they jump to attention at the slightest hint of impropriety by Trump. They cast his re-tweets as pregnant with dark meaning even as they take her open lies at face value.
How he handles his Twitter account makes him “unpresidential” in their eyes. But Hillary’s “extremely careless” handling of classified information, in the FBI director’s words on Tuesday, isn’t even treated as a blemish on her résumé for the presidency. Even as Comey recommended against charging her, the findings that he announced exposed her denial of sending classified information on a private server as a lie. The FBI found “seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received,” he said.
His gratuitous recommendation of non-prosecution didn’t add up. On the one hand, he says with confidence that there is no evidence she intended to break the law. On the other, he says that any “reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position” should have known not to send such classified information on a private server. He even acknowledges that that information may be in the hands of America’s enemies.
Hillary’s misconduct in such a grave matter should be automatically disqualifying, a permanent blot making her unfit for any government job, let alone the presidency. But now with Comey’s gift, combined with the support of the media’s cheerleading, she can continue to run on the ludicrous claim that government is safer in her hands than Trump’s.
“The system is rigged,” says Trump. The events of the last few days make that abundantly clear. A safety net has always existed under Hillary, held up by her friends in high places.
Referring to her husband’s meeting with the head of the department investigating her, Hillary said last weekend, “Well, I learned about it in the news.” Had Trump made such a comment, reporters would have mercilessly scrutinized it. But Hillary can get away such protestations of innocence. Perhaps she and Barack Obama had a good laugh over that line as they campaigned together in North Carolina on Tuesday. Whenever he wants to distance himself from something untoward in his administration, he deploys the I-learned-about-it-in-the-news defense too.
Even though Hillary “learned about it in the news,” that didn’t stop her from speaking about the meeting authoritatively. “It was purely social,” she said. “They talked about grandkids, which is very much on our minds these days, golf, their mutual friend, former Attorney General Janet Reno…They did not veer off of speaking about those kinds of very common exchanges.” Suddenly, she was an expert on a meeting that she had no inkling of. Bill Clinton, meanwhile, has gone into hiding.
Hillary, the weakest Democratic candidate since John Kerry, enjoys protection not only from her party’s establishment and its appointees but also from reporters and Republicans who are rooting for her to win. Trump has three opponents in effect: the Democratic-media annex and his own party’s establishment, which even at this late date is flirting with dump-Trump delegate schemes at the upcoming convention.
Surveys routinely show that ninety percent of reporters vote Democratic. This year that number will be even higher. In such an absurdly friendly media climate, Hillary knows that she can play dumb about Bill’s airport meeting with Lynch while heading off to one of her own, with Barack Obama on Air Force One. The coziness of campaigning on the president’s plane, with an air of triumph after his FBI director cleared her of criminal wrongdoing, goes unquestioned. Off they went to North Carolina, a state that Obama lost to Romney and that she will lose too, provided that Republicans stop their intramural squabbles and direct their fire upon her.
Republicans are too busy tearing their own candidate down to point out to voters the extremism with which Obama is punctuating his presidency, an extremism that Hillary is happily embracing. “I am proud of the decision to lift the ban on allowing transgender troops to serve openly in the military,” she said last week in defense of the president’s order. Republicans haven’t made a peep about this stance. Nor have they drawn attention to Hillary’s planned assault on Christians through the LGBT laws that she supports. At a time of cultural unease, she is paying no political price for increasingly outré stances, thanks to Republicans either too craven to challenge her or too hostile to Trump to care about America’s fate under her presidency.
Hillary, who once bragged about her attempt to enlist in the Marines, is eager to send women and transgenders to the frontlines, and yet such open radicalism no longer even generates a debate. Hillary and Obama must be chuckling about the white flags Republicans are raising in the culture war. Long gone are the anxieties the two once felt about whether to endorse gay marriage. Now the only question on their minds is: What taboos are left to touch?
Neither the rule of law nor traditional morality figures into Hillary’s radicalism. Comey calls her “extremely careless,” but her hubris is far worse than careless. Should she win, her self-indulgent criminality will make Americans only wish that they had a president whose worst fault was ill-considered tweeting.