With just six words, "We have not changed our conclusions," FBI Director James Comey may have ensured a perilous victory for Hillary Clinton. The hotly contentious review of newly discovered State Department-related e-mails, this time unaccountably on the laptop of one of the ultimate security risks, repeatedly disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner, ended as it began. With the Clinton operation's handling of sensitive e-mails viewed as extremely careless but not criminally liable, and with plenty of unanswered questions.
Hillary had already been in trouble with Wikileaks revelations of how former President Bill Clinton used the Clinton Foundation during her tenure as U.S. secretary of stated to amass stunning amounts of personal income.
Clearly, neither story is over. But with no big new revelation coming from Wikileaks and its likely source in Russian intelligence, and if most of the polling is accurate, the Democratic turnout machine executes efficiently, and the Clintons and President Barack Obama prove compelling in their personal campaigning to stave off a closing Donald Trump in states previously supposed to be locked down such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, Hillary has a quite decent chance of hanging on to a victory that many had repeatedly imagined to be an absolute slam dunk.
Hillary Clinton, in a moment of unalloyed triumph after the death of longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gadaffi, paraphrased Julius Caesar: "We came, we saw, he died!" She probably won't be so exultant Tuesday night, even in victory.
Though the new FBI letter is big, the biggest news is probably the dog that did not bark.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said in September that his group -- which, contrary to some claims from the Clinton camp, has never released fakes -- would provide material leading to her defeat and criminal indictment. Well, barring something really huge on Monday, when it may be too late anyway, that's not happening.
That is probably because Assange did not receive what he'd anticipated in his likely role as cut-out, however attenuated for the sake of his ego, for Russian intelligence. (Which we might as well call the KGB, since career KGB officer Vladimir Putin is in the process of consolidating Russian intelligence into its latter-day equivalent, the MGB, more to follow on that.) Long-time readers know my theory that Moscow has been out to delegitimize rather than defeat the Clintons in this election. Which is what has occurred.
Yes, there was more damaging intel on the Clintons Sunday. A Wikileaks tranche, summarized fastest of all the media outlets by, as usual, RT (the Russia Today news channel controlled by the Kremlin, which has also employed Assange as a talk show host), the release did reveal word from an intimate Clinton source of big financial perks from the Clinton Foundation for First Daughter Chelsea Clinton. But that is all of a piece with lowered public expectations for the Clinton family.
The most interesting revelation came not from Wikileaks/KGB but from FBI notes leaked to the New York Post. It seems that Hillary had Filipina immigrant maid use a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) and print out classified e-mails for her. That is pretty alarming, but again of a piece with what was previously known and not kill shot material per se.
Though it did lead a friend of mine, who also has long believed that Moscow is out to delegitimize rather than defeat, to gleefully point out the similarity to 'The Clock,' an early episode of 'The Americans,' the much-acclaimed show about deep-cover KGB agents in Reagan-era Washington. In that episode, the trusted maid of Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger is ruthlessly coerced into placing a bugged clock in the SecDef's study, where he holds very sensitive discussions.
On an early episode of the much-acclaimed series 'The Americans' about deep-cover KGB operatives in Reagan-era Washington, the agents coerce a maid for Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger to place a bugged clock in the study of his home where he holds high-level discussions.
As dispiriting on several levels as so much of the Wikileaks material has been, it's important to keep in mind that there are major policy differences between Hillary and Trump. So no one, especially in progressive ranks, should simply throw up their hands and imagine it makes no difference who is elected.
I wrote at the end of October about my experience with Ralph Nader in 2000 and his expressed belief just a few months before the general election that Al Gore would win handily over George W. Bush and thus he could not spoil the election in the conservative Republican's favor. We know all too well how that turned out.
And I remember in 1980 being at the Campaign for Economic Democracy steering committee at Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden's Laurel Springs Ranch above Santa Barbara where many leaders of the organization saw no difference between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. At the request of Hayden and some of his older advisors, I had to bang out a one-page memo laying out the very stark differences between the two before the organization voted to support Carter. Does anyone today imagine it made no difference that Reagan was elected?
Even if one believes that Trump is something of a real populist rather than a neo-fascist posing behind a populist masquerade, the differences between Clinton and Trump on climate change and renewable energy, not to mention fundamental questions of science, racism, sexism, you name it, are so vast as to make anything but a vote for Clinton the height of irresponsibility. If Trump wanted to convince anyone that he was not the most aggressive know-nothing to run in the last century or so, he has had plenty of opportunities to do so.
Besides, if for no other reason than the following, Team Trump should be defeated for its sheer intellectual ineptitude in presidential politics.
It once again allowed General Michael Hayden, who served as Bush's CIA director, to pair himself with a Democrat (once again ex-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright) as part of a bipartisan pose of paired op-eds attacking Trump. Trump has gone this entire time without ever pointing out that Hayden was an obscure Air Force two-star until someone plucked him up and made him director of the National Security Agency, a much larger and arguably more powerful agency than the CIA, if far more secret.
Who was that certain someone who made Hayden the director of the NSA? Bill Clinton.
Trump also somehow failed all this time to note the name of Hillary's house in Washington. "Whitehaven." For someone always knocked for his own big ego, that is an awfully big bet to miss.
I mention such things now when it is too late for the Trump campaign. There will be more after the election.
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