While the GOP establishment weakly fumbled around for an answer to Donald Trump, Democrats were ruthlessly rigging their primaries for Clinton.
When the definitive post mortem of this dismal election is finally published, it should go something like this: The Republican establishment was foolish; the Democratic establishment was ruthless. The Republicans fumbled around incompetently and spinelessly in the face of an unforeseen challenge; the Democrats willfully and intentionally did all they could to carry a corrupt politician over the finish line, forcing the American public to choose between one known liar and another.
Let’s review the facts. According to an outstanding weekend report in the Wall Street Journal, the FBI continues to investigate Hillary Clinton’s maybe-criminal abuse of the Clinton Foundation as a front for systematic influence-peddling and her maybe-criminal mishandling of our nation’s secrets. Neither of these scandals is new. They both predate the launch of her presidential campaign.
Questions have swirled around the Clinton Foundation since Hillary was confirmed as secretary of state. Damaging evidence of outright influence-peddling — including evidence of large-scale donations made to the foundation as the State Department considered a crucial uranium deal — broke less than two weeks after her campaign announcement. On April 23, 2015, the New York Times published an extraordinary story detailing the amount of money that was funneled to the Clinton Foundation (and to Bill Clinton directly) as the State Department considered whether to sign off on the sale of “one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States” to a Russian-controlled corporation. The chairman of the corporation donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation, and a Russian investment bank promoting Uranium One stock paid Bill Clinton a whopping $500,000 to give a speech in Moscow. The Clintons violated an agreement with the White House to “publicly identify all donors” by failing to disclose the Uranium One contributions. Hillary’s State Department approved the deal.
One month before the Uranium One story, as Clinton was preparing to announce her candidacy, the Times broke the news that still dominates the campaign today: Hillary “exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business.” Given the Clintons’ longstanding history of personal corruption, it should have been obvious to Democrats then that Hillary’s scandals were going to dog the party throughout the campaign, and, if she won, throughout her presidency. It would be a repeat of the 1990s, when an entire party was hijacked into relentlessly defending conduct that they would loudly condemn if it were attributed to any Republican.
Instead, the party did far more than merely acquiesce in Hillary’s decision to run. It did virtually everything it could to guarantee her victory. Scandal-free progressive politicians such as Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden stood aside. Superdelegates signed on with Hillary en masse. The DNC put its thumb on the scales to such an extent that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was ultimately fired to appease the Sanders holdouts. When angry Trump voters were accusing incompetent Republicans of “rigging” the system against their man, ruthless Democrats were were actually rigging the system for Hillary.
They’re still ruthless, of course. It is Hillary who inarguably created this incredible mess, and it is her aides who inarguably compounded it. But from the wails of the entire Democratic establishment, one would think the true villain of the story is FBI director James Comey. The Republican establishment was foolish; the Democratic establishment was ruthless.
Comey was in an impossible position. He had informed Congress that the FBI’s e-mail investigation was complete, a fact that was no longer true. Stay silent and he would inflame the tens of millions who see a double standard applied to the Clintons. Speak up and experience what he is experiencing today, a furious assault from an establishment that only weeks ago was applauding his wisdom and integrity. At least speaking up carries with it the virtue of truth: She is under investigation, and the American people need to know.
The contrast with the hapless Republicans is profound. Confronted with Donald Trump, the Republicans lurched from denial to incompetence to spinelessness. Even the god-awful pledge that torments Republicans such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio originated as part of an effort to limit the damage Trump would cause to the party. They hoped he’d stay out of the race after he (inevitably, they thought) lost the primary. The pledge was meant to bind Trump. The super PAC firing squad that helped kill Rubio’s primary chances wasn’t designed to help Trump but instead to help Jeb Bush.
The Republicans were the gang that couldn’t shoot straight and then — when disaster loomed — couldn’t stand straight. The Democrats are the gang that shot straight and stood tall for one of America’s most corrupt politicians.
Future historians will no doubt be confused by the choices of the party elites. While history is replete with leaders whose vices were excused for the sake of their brilliant virtues, this generation has excused vices for the sake of elevating a man and woman of little virtue. What do they excel at besides opportunism? Nothing. But they do bring with them access to power, and for all too many members of the establishment, that’s virtue enough.