There’s an old wisecrack, of uncertain attribution and that can be adapted using various adjectives, that captures my reaction to the brouhaha about the new emails that turned up on a computer shared by Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her dick-pic obsessed husband, Anthony Weiner.
The application of the wisecrack for this purpose would be: “What’s new is not interesting and what’s interesting is not new.”
In short, I can’t understand what the big deal is, unless and until someone finds something highly classified and deeply important to national security on the Weiner-Abedin computer.
The story broke last week, while I was vacationing, and by the amount of hype I assumed that it must already be the case that such national security information had been compromised. But no, the FBI hadn’t even looked at the emails, only at the “metadata.” How on earth could this be that big a deal until we know what government secrets may have been compromised?
It’s most assuredly not news that, as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton chose to use a private server rather than the more closely protected State Department email system. She has acknowledged that it was a mistake and claimed to have learned her lesson and will, going forward, communicate on more appropriately secure systems.
Clinton has been forced to retract her original claim, that she never sent or received information on the email system that was classified at the time she sent or received it. The emails did not have the nuclear launch codes or anything, but it did contain data that were marked at lower levels of classification. None of it has been shown to have fallen into evil hands nor to have damaged U.S. security.
The FBI investigation of Clinton ended months ago, with FBI Director James Comey stating that Clinton’s use of a private server was “extremely careless” and “negligent” but not at a level that would support criminal charges.
It strikes me that any voter who wants to take that story into account in deciding whether to entrust her with the ultimate responsibility of the presidency would be totally justified, although such a calculation ought to include relevant consideration of the discretion or indiscretion shown by her opponent during his life and times as well.
But what, of the information that has come out over recent days, changes any of that? So far, we don’t know. Neither does the FBI know because, as of Sunday, they hadn’t read any of the emails, because they hadn’t obtained a search warrant that would authorize them to do so. Now, today, we are told that such a search warrant has been granted.
If turns out that the nuclear launch codes, or any truly top secret national security information was on the Weiner-tainted computer, that might justify some voters changing their opinion about Clinton’s fitness to be president. There is, at this time, no reason to believe that will happen. If it does happen, Comey may want to revise his previous recommendation about whether there are grounds to charge Clinton with some kind of offense. If that happens, he still doesn’t have the power to charge her, but only to recommend charges to the relevant Justice Department attorneys. Comey is a Republican. The top ranks of the Obama Justice Department are dominated by Democrats. That is either awkward, or a good thing.
But my whole point, from the old wisecrack at the top to this, my second-to-last paragraph of the day, is that nothing new has come to public attention that would cause rational voters to revise their plans for Election Day, pending developments.
This, my very last paragraph, refers you to Paul Krugman’s column of this morning, in which he suggests, among other things, that the exaggeration of what Comey found and what he knows as of this time, is caused by the pressure news organizations feel under to exaggerate any negative news about Clinton and pretend that it resembles troubling facts and statements and other aspects of the life and times and positions and remarks of her opponent.