Despite media hype, rational voters wouldn’t change minds over the latest email find

REUTERS/Carlos Barria
FBI Director James Comey

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. 

Comments (46)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/31/2016 - 01:58 pm.

    An idle question

    Why, I wonder, would “news organizations” feel they are under pressure 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?” Not that various “news organizations” might be interested in such things, but why would those organizations feel they are “under pressure” to report, enhance, exaggerate whatever it is they’ve found in a way to suggest its equivalent to something in the Trump campaign? Is this a clumsy attempt to provide “objectivity” to their operation?

    From what I’ve read so far, none of the emails in question are either TO or FROM Ms. Clinton, nor did they make use of her private server, nor does Mr. Comey even know, as of this morning, at least, what’s actually IN the emails, though he now has a search warrant enabling the FBI to find out.

    Is this whole thing a clumsy and blatant attempt by a politicized FBI to influence the election? Is it a mistake by a politically tone-dear FBI Director? Is it the Russians trying to sway the election? Are those alien spaceships in my back yard? Etc., etc., ad nauseum. So far, no evidence has been presented that suggests the public should be paying attention to this.

    • Submitted by Joe Musich on 10/31/2016 - 09:25 pm.

      I certainly hope ….

      that your questions get answered! When even a partisan like Ia.’s Grassley question the validity and honor ability of Comfrey and his agenda would suggest that the “decision” to reopen is gas filled politically driven nonsense. The only exit available for neo Hoover now is a decision before weeks end on what was found or a Comfrey resignation. Actually apart from the “decision” maybe not influencing the rational voter is the fact that the “decision” was made period.

  2. Submitted by Pat Berg on 10/31/2016 - 02:26 pm.

    At this point in the game . . . .

    At this point in the game it’s not the *rational* voters that they’re after.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/31/2016 - 03:10 pm.

    Voters

    It’s never been the rational votes I have worried about.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 11/01/2016 - 09:48 am.

      Always those, of course

      I have always been more wary of the “packaged” votes assembled by various organizations.

  4. Submitted by David Willard on 10/31/2016 - 03:38 pm.

    The Brink

    There was a chance when this website at infancy there was a world where intelligent liberals would parse the news and report and opine. I’ve held out hope as a news reader that some semblance of impartiality and straight truth would result.

    No, unfortunately, the disease that has infected news for forty years remains at minn post. All the reporters spin left. That’s ok, but any news that is negative to the left narrative is ignored. The rumors damaging the right are reported as gospel.

    You guys, and it’s mostly white guys, are biased and hardly reporting the truth. Do you want to change the world? guess what? You’re not Woodward and Bernstein. Most of the crap you espouse would leave us in a worse position. Witness the last disastrous eight years of a community organizer.

    • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 10/31/2016 - 04:19 pm.

      How quick some forget where George W. Bush left us. I’m quite sure there have been improvements since good old GWB did his deeds.

    • Submitted by C.S. Senne on 11/01/2016 - 12:19 pm.

      Frustration…

      Frustration often leads to sweeping generalizations, accusatory rhetoric, and barnyard language. The majority of Mr. Willard’s statements would get him thrown out of a junior high school debate.

    • Submitted by David Therkelsen on 11/01/2016 - 03:29 pm.

      Disastrous?

      Stock markets double. Year after year of regular monthly gains in employment and reduction in unemployment. Annual deficit reduced by two-thirds. Consumer confidence way, way up. GWB recession ended and auto industry saved. Millions more with health insurance. What, exactly, is disastrous in all this, especially since we had mirror opposite in prior eight years.

      • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 11/02/2016 - 09:29 am.

        Yes

        Love how Bush is always the bad one. Last 8 years, labor participation rate at historic lows not seen in decades, deficit spending still higher than Bush years – after all Obama quadrupled it at his start, confidence that we have a better life than 8 years ago is actually less, record number of people on welfare, more than doubling of the national debt despite record revenues, racial divides wider than ever, government transparency at it lowest, IRS biased targeting of organizations, largest growth of highest earners to average wage, a health insurance program that has started to wipe out any family wealth and failed promises of cost savings and ability to keep same doctors…need I go on?

  5. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/31/2016 - 03:58 pm.

    Who is the Target?

    Rational voters are not the issue. Is anyone still undecided? If so, is there any reasonable possibility that they will vote?

  6. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/31/2016 - 04:01 pm.

    If you throw enough mud around

    some of it will stick to the wall.
    And some of what’s being thrown is worse than mud.

  7. Submitted by Brian Scholin on 10/31/2016 - 04:23 pm.

    About time we remember

    that it is NOT the police who are supposed to make decisions or pronouncements about guilt or innocence or charges to be filed. There is a reason for that. Prosecutors have that title for a reason – they act as a second set of eyes with different concerns and different capabilities than the police, to help screen the public from inappropriate punishment.

    In the extreme case, we see cops on the street deciding who deserves to be shot, without a calm, rational process. Here it appears we saw a cop in an office first inappropriately pronouncing HRC innocent, then inappropriately implying that she is actually guilty. In all these cases, we are leaving behind some long-established ideas about what needs to be done to ensure justice.

  8. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 10/31/2016 - 06:42 pm.

    Nice tilt on the headline

    No “rational” person would change their minds. Well, I don’t want anyone calling me irrational so I’ve got to vote for the only candidate under FBI investigation.

    It’s kind of like the “common sense gun law” narrative whereby if you don’t agree, you don’t have common sense…

    • Submitted by chuck holtman on 11/01/2016 - 08:11 am.

      OK

      Pursuant to an unrelated matter, the FBI came into possession of a computer owned by Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin. Because it is owned by Huma Abedin, it has some emails to and from Huma Abedin. Because Huma Abedin was an aide of Hillary Clinton, some of those emails are to and from Hillary Clinton.

      Do we know more than this? If not, please explain, from your position as a rational person, how this affects your estimation of Hillary Clinton as a candidate.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/01/2016 - 09:59 am.

        Yes

        We know that Comey has been a Republican, which opens questions about his decision.
        Since he has not presented any actual evidence not already available to the public, there is no reason to change one’s evaluation of Hillary Clinton.

      • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 11/01/2016 - 09:18 pm.

        Besides being under FBI investigation

        There really isn’t much new. Ms. Abedin does have “some” e-mails, numbering in the thousands, on a device that she claimed was rarely used. “Was” an aide seems to be correct as Candidate Clinto has thrown Ms. Abedin under the bus. And some of those e-mails were from the Secretary of State, most likely from the same unsecured server. Once again, the whole problem is traced back to Ms. Clinton (when did the Rodham disappear?) who, if she had followed the rules, would not be subject to this investigation. Mr. Comey is not the problem, he is just one of many who have been caught up with dealing with the Clintons.

        • Submitted by Jim Million on 11/02/2016 - 02:10 pm.

          Yes, indeed

          When much of an outgoing administration seems to be disengenuous at minimum, we might expect all the deflection and misdirection management now in place. Those now making James Comey’s professional life more than difficult should be called out whenever possible. How arrogant must they be if they truly believe more smoke indicates anything other than more fire dousing activity somewhere?
          Late morning Strib header today:

          “Obama criticizes FBI director: ‘We don’t operate on leaks’ ”
          By GARDINER HARRIS and ADAM GOLDMAN New York Times

          Laughing Out Loud…all the way to February, I am today. The arrogance of it all…………………….

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/01/2016 - 09:09 am.

      The “Only” Candidate?

      I think there is also one who may be under FBI investigation over his ties to Russia. We don’t know for sure, because Director Comey doesn’t want to release information that could affect the election.

      I guess it’s just common sense to vote for the candidate who is being sued for racketeering and who has a pattern of questionable tax arrangements, right?

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 11/01/2016 - 09:54 am.

        See Today’s News

        Seems that canard was just shot down, if I read the FBI information correctly.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/01/2016 - 10:28 am.

          Not Quite

          The investigation is ongoing, and it is focused on Trump’s henchmen.

          Canards are not in season quite yet: “Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.”

          • Submitted by Jim Million on 11/01/2016 - 11:04 am.

            Perhaps not yet…

            Many hunters certainly are out in the fields…some already far afield.
            [now you’ve got me thinking about Albatross season…]

            What many people seem to miss in all of this is that FBI investigations are always “ongoing” until prosecution or dismissal. Not all conclude in penal incarceration, either. They may lie dormant for awhile, waiting for developments; but, they are “ongoing” even while resting on a shelf for awhile.

        • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 11/01/2016 - 12:02 pm.

          Not so shot down…

          ….Mother Jones has reviewed that report and other memos this former spy wrote. The first memo, based on the former intelligence officer’s conversations with Russian sources, noted, “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance.” It maintained that Trump “and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.” It claimed that Russian intelligence had “compromised” Trump during his visits to Moscow and could “blackmail him.” It also reported that Russian intelligence had compiled a dossier on Hillary Clinton based on “bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls.”….

          http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/veteran-spy-gave-fbi-info-alleging-russian-operation-cultivate-donald-trump

      • Submitted by David LaPorte on 11/01/2016 - 04:25 pm.

        Double Standards

        On October 7, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security formally accuses Russia of hacking various the Democratic National Committee and various other Democrats in an attempt to influence our election. FBI Director Comey didn’t dispute the allegations, but didn’t want the FBI’s name to be associated with it, because it was too close to the election. Russian hacking of the Democrats would only benefit Trump.

        Three weeks later (and thus three weeks closer to the election), he sent a vacuous letter to the Republican leadership of Congress about Clinton-related E mails that nobody at the FBI had read. The Trump supporters are certain that the smoking gun had finally been found, although they had no idea what was in the E mails, either.

        So I’m wondering why October 7 was too close to the election while October 28 was not. The report issued by Homeland Security and National Intelligence on the 7th was based on facts while Comey’s letter on October 28 was fact-free.

        Harry Reid is probably right that this is a violation of the Hatch Act.

  9. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/31/2016 - 09:10 pm.

    Nothing new here – but consider the old

    Mr. Black is correct – nothing new came up here because all we need to know is that Mrs. Clinton knowingly made a decision as a Secretary of State to use an unsecured server… did she not realize that Secretaries of State may get classified information sooner or later? If she didn’t, she is not smart enough to be a president; if she did and still went ahead, she is not responsible enough to be a president. As for Paul Krugman, he has defended Clinton no matter what so he should be totally irrelevant because we all know, including Democrats, as polls show, that the media as rooting for Clinton.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/01/2016 - 10:01 am.

      The question is not

      whether Clinton knowingly chose to use an inadequately secured server.
      The question is whether she knew that any of the emails on that server contained material that was classified at that time.

      • Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 11/01/2016 - 10:47 am.

        not true…

        Many more legal issues are involved than just “classified materials” and her ignorance of them

        .

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/01/2016 - 11:09 am.

          Many More!

          Care to give us some examples?

          • Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 11/01/2016 - 12:17 pm.

            you know better….

            Richard Nixon did not break into the dem headquarters. That is not what got him in trouble….

            Bill Clinton did not get impeached for having sex with an intern.

            Obstruction of justice – destroying evidence – lying to congress and the FBI are just a few of the many crimes that could have been committed by the H.C. Of course – there could be multitude of crimes committed by possible fellow conspirators.

            By saying this just involves classified emails is way too narrow – but -what difference does it now make.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/01/2016 - 12:42 pm.

              There Could Be

              There are many crimes that “could have”been committed by Hillary Clinton. There are many crimes that “could have” been committed by any of us. That isn’t proof of anything. The events described in Jane Doe v. Trump, filed in the US District Court, Southern District of New York, also “could have” happened.

              Richard Nixon’s misdeeds were well defined and proven. Bill Clinton was impeached for certain listed actions, but was ultimately acquitted (impeachment is just a charge–it is not proof of anything besides a vote tally in the House of Representatives). Dire mutterings about what “could have” happened are empty.

              Yes, that may be a “narrow” viewpoint. That, however, is how we do things–we don’t put someone under a cloud of guilt based on what “could have” happened.

              • Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 11/01/2016 - 03:31 pm.

                exactly….

                This is why we need the truth. I said “could.”

                I did not declare her innocent or guilty. We should both be concerned that the investigations will continue and the truth will be discovered.

                To avoid the discovery of the truth is truly deplorable.

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/01/2016 - 04:30 pm.

                  Concern

                  “We should both be concerned that the investigations will continue and the truth will be discovered.” And if the conclusion of the investigation is that there is no there there? Will you be satisfied?

                  Any of us could be a criminal–eternal watchfulness is our duty!

  10. Submitted by joe smith on 11/01/2016 - 08:19 am.

    As a voter who thinks both Hillary and Trump are the worse

    2 candidates I have ever seen, I’m still not sure if I vote 3rd party. After living through Jimmy Carter and the late 70’s as a DFLer , I voted for Ronald R in 80 and have voted conservative principles since. Hillary promises 4 more years of the disastrous Obama 8 years (70% of Americans think we are on the wrong track) who knows what Trump brings. I am amazed how many folks just ignore both candidates issues and go straight party line. As I learned in 1976-80, there are some things you can’t defend, Carter’s disastrous policies being one. DC is so corrupt right now you have to wonder what 4 years of Clinton’s dishonesty or Trump’s shoot from the hip approach will do to that Swamp?

    Yuck….

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/01/2016 - 08:58 am.

      As previously reported…

      Before Obama took office over 91% of the people identified that we were on the “wrong track”.
      Now at 63% (RCP average): A 31% improvement over conservative, GOP leadership!

      Thank you President Obama for bringing our nation forward.

      And, all Jimmy Carter had to do insure his re-election was to issue a “return the hostages or it’s war deadline” and then gone to war in mid-summer 1980. The hostages would all have been killed, soldiers killed, civilians killed and billions of dollars expended. Carter’s lack of hubris saved the hostages lives, avoided war and cost him his re-election.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 11/01/2016 - 10:03 am.

        Yesterday…

        Will never become tomorrow. Remembering what was should be no comfort to those honestly aware of what might be, regardless of current choice. That discomfort seems to be the commonly shared reality facing so many who placed this in some kind of retrograde perspective.

        Elections need to be more about “What will be,” rather than about “What was,” whether 8 or 16 years ago.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/01/2016 - 11:03 am.

          Well….

          What will be is all milk and honey from what I have heard so far, no matter the candidate.

          Which leaves me to find some criteria to help me choose my favorite variety of milk and honey. The criteria I choose is to learn from is past performance to predict future results. And anyone who believes replicating the path of 2000-2008 is superior to replicating 2008-2016 or 1992-2000 is simply unable to interpret basic numerical facts, or a more likely reason:

          “Rationalization is the key to mental health”

          For the committed political ideologue when ideology bumps head on into disproving fact, rationalization wins every time. The left is certainly not immune; but, the right is heavily infected at present….

  11. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 11/01/2016 - 06:04 pm.

    The story here? The effect on this election that Mr. Comey has already had.

    It doesn’t matter that there probably is nothing in the Abedin copies of emails, most of which the FBI has already reviewed, that will harm Hillary Clinton. Comey is determined to harm her candidacy, or at least that’s what the FBI is doing.

  12. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/01/2016 - 07:58 pm.

    Some thoughts

    Mr. Brandon, it is irrelevant whether she got anything classified because as a Secretary of State she could have and should have anticipated that some classified material would eventually come to her due to the nature of her position.

    Mr. Holbrook, carelessness and recklessness may be a crime under certain circumstance. Careless and reckless driving are crimes even if no accident occurs.

    Mr. Blaise, apparently, it is more like 70% with Bush vs. 67% with Obama (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/09/22/its-been-a-very-long-time-since-people-thought-america-was-headed-in-the-right-direction/) not much improvement here. As for Carter, if he gave Iran ultimatum, they would have let hostages go (they were not totally crazy) and the world would have been spared the nuclear Iran… I also wonder how we are better off in the international standing, terrorism, and security now than we were in 2008…

    Ms. Sullivan, if Comey were determined to harm Clinton, he could have done it in the summer easily… but he did not.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/02/2016 - 09:14 am.

      Certain Circumstances

      “[C]arelessness and recklessness may be a crime under certain circumstance.” Well, no. Carelessness and recklessness are states of mind (or mens rea) necessary to prove that a defendant acted in a criminal manner. They are not crimes in and of themselves.

    • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 11/02/2016 - 10:57 am.

      Mr. Gutman must know that the way you do real harm to a candidate is to issue some kind of “news” or outrageous claim, right up next to the election date, so there’s no time to respond.

      It’s classic U.S. election trickery. Put the very late and unprecedented release of “news” that the Weiner laptop contained thousands of his wife’s back-up emails that may include some that are relevant, or pertinent (Comey had no idea of either when he issued the letter last Friday) to the closed Hillary Clinton investigation, beside the extraordinary Comey release of reams of documents relating to BILL Clinton’s 2000 pardon of Marc Rich [right! ancient history, just now being “released”] and you have what any good Republican would call a conspiracy to “get” the Clintons. Again.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/02/2016 - 07:23 pm.

        If’s

        Mr. Holbrook, of course, state of mind cannot be a crime but actions based on that may be. So if Clinton was careless and set up her private server without regards for possible consequences, that may be a crime.

        Ms. Sullivan, if Clinton were indicted in July, she would have been out of the race then – no reason for Comey to wait until the last moment.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/03/2016 - 12:24 pm.

          It May be a Crime

          Carelessness in setting up a server without regards for possible consequences is a crime only if an act of Congress makes it a crime. Otherwise, let’s get on with our lives.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/03/2016 - 07:23 pm.

            I am perfectly fine with that – I don’t think she should be in prison either. But it does disqualify her from being a president, doesn’t it?

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/04/2016 - 09:18 am.

              Not unless you think years of frivolous litigation and willful disobedience of court orders also is a disqualification.

              • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/05/2016 - 10:49 am.

                Question

                So is Mrs. Clinton qualification dependent on someone else’s qualification? But to make it clear, I don’t think Trump is qualified either.

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