"Well, this is a fine mess you've gotten us into, Hillary!" That would seem to sum up the general viewpoint among pundits in the wake of FBI Director James B. Comey's statement on Tuesday.
It appears that the presidential election Americans are facing is one in which almost any Democrat would beat Donald Trump in a landslide, but the party is about to nominate the one major Democrat who is so flawed that she might lose to him and in which almost any Republican would beat Hillary Clinton, but the party is about to nominate the one candidate (save, perhaps, Sen. Ted Cruz) who is very likely to lose to her.
Polls indicate a "plague on both your houses" attitude toward Trump and Clinton. Both are viewed as untrustworthy, and the FBI report on her e-mail practices only adds to that perception of Secretary Clinton. Just over a week ago, I wrote here that it is flabbergasting that a plurality of Americans say they believe that Donald Trump is more honest and straightforward than Hillary Clinton. New polls in the wake of the FBI report will, presumably, show that Hillary's "dishonest" and "untrustworthy" numbers are increasing.
Back in the waning years of the Cold War in the 1980s, we used to hear a lot from conservatives about the false "moral equivalence" liberals were said to be proclaiming between the actions of the United States and those of Communist regimes.
The great danger in this election year is that the American people might fall for a false immoral equivalence argument from Republicans.
Let us stipulate that Hillary Clinton has done some stupid things. She has told lies. Name me a politician this side of Saint Jimmy Carter who hasn't. But the public perception of her is based only in small part on her actual instances of prevarication. Most of it is from a narrative skillfully woven by right-wingers from the early 1990s onward.
American voters must not, however, fall into the trap of thinking that Hillary's occasional lies are even remotely on the level of Trump's, which are constant, day after day, hour after hour, on virtually everything.
When it comes to lying, Politifact finds that only 2% of what Trump says is true, with another 7% "mostly true," for a grand total of saying things that are at least mostly true 9% of the time. In sharp contrast, this independent fact checking organization finds that 23% of what Hillary says is true, and another 28% is mostly true, for a total of 51% at least mostly true. 51% vs. 9% is quite a difference. At the other end, 19% of what Trump says has been classified as "pants on fire" lies and another 41% as false, making for a total of 60% false. Only 1% of what Hillary says is classified as "pants on fire," and another 11% false, for a total of 12% false vs. Trump's 60% false. Add "mostly false" (Trump 17%; Hillary 15%) and you have a total of 75% of what Trump says is at least mostly false vs. 27% of what Hillary says being at least mostly false. As Trump would say, the difference is "YUUGE."
Here are what these numbers show about the truthfulness or lying of the candidates if "True" is scored as 5 points, "Mostly True" 3, "Half True" 0, "Mostly False" -3, "False" -5, and "Pants on Fire" -10:
Hillary Clinton has a very positive overall rating for telling the truth; Donald Trump has an extraordinarily low rating, showing that he tells bald-faced lies on a daily basis.
One of the major party presidential candidates in 2016, Hillary Clinton, is a politician who has, like almost all politicians, occasionally not told the truth. The other, Donald Trump, is a man who wouldn't know the truth if it smacked him across his face, one who, in the words of Eugene Robinson, "lies the way other people breathe. . . . He doesn't distort facts, he makes them up."
The former is , her misstatements notwithstanding, someone totally capable of being a very good president. The latter would be the worst disaster the United States of America has faced at least since the Civil War. Don't let that megalomaniac fool you. For him to assert that it is Hillary who is a big liar is, well, just another of his enormous lies.
In the words of The Who:
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again