COMMENTARY: We’ve all applied the old adage “what goes around comes around” in one way or another to vindicate, pass judgment, or just accept the basic principle that actions have consequences. However, sometimes we don’t fully appreciate what it was that got sent “around,” and are surprised by what ends up coming back as a result.
Last week the director of the FBI chose to air out in a surprise press conference the substance and outcome of that agency’s exhaustive investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email proclivities while she was secretary of state. The twenty some-odd minute statement was a laundry list of blatant missteps, lapses in judgment, indifference to the sensitivity of information, and breaches of national security that led the listener into believing the jig was up — but then the pronouncement that they would not recommend prosecution dashed the hopes of the salivating opposition.
The director’s punch line probably precipitated an impulse of loud cheers from the folks crowded around Hillary’s TV for a moment; but then, if there was a thinker among them, and we can be sure there are many, the cheers likely turned to stony silence as the reality of the FBI’s recommendation against indictment in the face of the facts bubbled to the surface, and the political impact of Director Comey’s carefully laid-out description settled in.
Much of the American voting public relies on quick impressions shaped by well-chosen and strategized messaging constructed of single words or brief phrases — like “It’s the economy stupid,” and others. Also, we often find ourselves inundated by talking points inventing a common enemy we can all love to hate, when such is necessary to change an uncomfortable subject, like breaking the law.
The Clintons and their minions have always understood and applied these tactics well. For example, remember the 1994 prosecution headed up by Ken Starr that was turned on its head — not on the merits, but by deft political maneuvering that made a villain of the investigator and a titillating folk hero of the perpetrator. Hatred was heaped upon a prosecutor, and love was heaped upon a sympathetic victim.
As we know, Bill Clinton not only survived, but would be re-elected two years later. Their hole card was played successfully by concentrating ample political artillery on the messenger, and on his attempt to prosecute, in order to nullify the facts in the minds of a sufficient number of Americans.
Who is to say James Comey intentionally planned to take that same kind of hole card off the table, and now it really doesn’t matter because off the table it has flown. Hillary’s handlers cannot divert public attention toward an “unjust” prosecution of a poor defenseless victim, because none will exist. Instead, Comey’s news conference has spawned for Hillary’s opponent an entire deck of “Trump” cards in the form of sound-bite sized quotes by the director of the FBI himself, perfectly fitting the attention span of those same impressionable Americans the Clintonites always relied upon in the past.
Director Comey did no favors for Hillary Clinton, and whatever we think we saw go around is about to come back around with a vengeance.
In his varied career, Myles C. Culbertson has been engaged in agriculture, banking, international trade, economic and technological development, regulation and law enforcement, and specialized projects for both industry and government. His history includes service as executive director of two state agencies, under four governors, addressing numerous domestic and international economic, regulatory, and resource issues. He is currently president of Myles Culbertson Partners LLC.