Politics & Policy

Our Political Masters Show Their Hand

President Obama and Hillary Clinton campaign in Charlotte, N.C., July 5, 2016. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
It’s not just the corruption that shocks — it’s the flagrant, shameless display of it.

It wasn’t shocking news that Barack Obama’s FBI refused on Tuesday to recommend indictment for felonious former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

The utterly transparent corruption, however — that was shocking.

Let’s take a look at the timeline.

Last Wednesday, a local CBS reporter spotted former president Bill Clinton meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Phoenix airport. No photographs were permitted by the FBI. That same day, the Obama administration announced that Obama would fly Hillary Clinton to North Carolina on Tuesday aboard Air Force One to campaign with her. On Saturday, the FBI interviewed Hillary Clinton for three hours, before she flew off to a performance of Hamilton in New York City. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that Hillary might retain Lynch as her attorney general. On Tuesday morning, FBI director James Comey announced a press conference, to take place just hours before Clinton and Obama were to begin campaigning. There, Comey listed a long litany of reasons Hillary Clinton should be indicted, before concluding that he would not recommend her indictment.

Finally, Obama stood on stage in North Carolina and lavished praise on Hillary — and he allowed her to speak from his podium, festooned with the presidential seal.

This sort of open moral debauchery would have made Boss Tweed blush.

RELATED: Hillary’s Banana Republic

The question, then, isn’t whether the Democrats are crooked, as Donald Trump says. They’ve been crooked since they traded the presidency. The question is why they don’t care about shedding their decency, Miley Cyrus–style, then twerking around the stage of American politics.

There are two possible answers.

First, the practical: They don’t fear the consequences.

Democrats used to engage regularly in corruption, but they also had the comfort of a monopolistic media to protect them. In 1964, LBJ ordered a CIA agent to monitor Barry Goldwater’s campaign; the CIA actually planted a source in the Goldwater campaign, who funneled advance copies of Goldwater’s speeches to LBJ. LBJ ordered the FBI to bug Goldwater’s campaign airplane as well. When Nixon did far less in 1972, his presidency collapsed. Democrats reaped the benefit of a compliant, one-sided media that favored the Left.

The media have now lost all pretense at objectivity, and the Republicans have lost all stomach for battle.

But today, there is an alternative media, and for years, it helped Republicans keep a lid on corruption in Democratic circles — Democrats had the good sense to hide their corruption or, as Bill Clinton did, lie about it. Yet the Democrats seem to have lost all fear of consequences. That’s due to two factors: The media have now lost all pretense at objectivity, and the Republicans have lost all stomach for battle. This week, as Comey used the flimsiest of excuses to save Hillary Clinton from prosecution, the media sought to turn the spotlight back on Donald Trump’s execrable association with alt-right Twitter accounts — surely a story worth covering, but not nearly in the same league as a candidate who exposes classified material to foreign hackers out of personal paranoia. During the the Bill Clinton presidency, at least the media had the good sense to be offended that Bill had lied to them about Monica Lewinsky; now the media play Kevin Bacon in Animal House, begging Democrats for another spanking.

Then there are the Republicans.

#share#After Bill’s impeachment in 1998, Republicans learned precisely the wrong political lesson: Never punish Democrats. Instead, the GOP figured, they would bleed the information into the press and hope that the court of public opinion would punish Democrats.

That conclusion was both unnecessary and wrong. In the 1998 elections, even as the impeachment rumors hit the press, Republicans lost just five seats in the Congress and zero seats in the Senate. In 2000, George W. Bush won the White House despite heavy advantages for Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore; Democrats gained four Senate seats, at least in part thanks to vulnerable seat allocation, but Republicans lost just one seat in the House. Impeachment, then, wasn’t political poison — it helped demonstrate national ire against corruption in the Oval Office.

RELATED: Washington’s Hollow Men

But now President Obama has overseen a corrupted IRS and punished no one; overseen a corrupted DOJ and punished no one; overseen a corrupted EPA and punished no one; overseen a corrupted VA and punished no one; overseen a corrupted FBI and punished no one. And the Republicans keep complaining to the nearest camera, to no effect.

Democrats know that and believe they can get away with anything.

And they’re right.

Then there’s the second reason Democrats feel comfortable revealing their corrupt dealings for the world to see: They want Americans to get accustomed to the trappings of a banana republic. President Obama had to work within the boundaries of the constitutional structure, at least superficially; in his last days, he is interested in tearing down even that façade. Now, it’s clear, America might as well be electing a dictator every four years, capable of shifting justice to his or her whim. Obama does that, of course, knowing full well that Hillary is most likely to be elected to fill his office.

#related#And unfortunately, the American people seem willing to nod along. They may be troubled by the appearance of impropriety, but not enough to do anything about it: The same politicians find themselves in positions of power despite their corruption year after year. Now Americans have a choice between the most corrupt politician in modern history, Hillary Clinton, and a Republican candidate who believes he can appoint Supreme Court justices to prosecute enemies, utilize the IRS to target political opponents, and force companies to do his bidding at the point of a bayonet.

There is one piece of good news, however: At least the Hillary non-indictment debacle demonstrates the full-scale scorn the political class has for ordinary American voters. If those voters choose to continue bowing before self-appointed political masters, they deserve the banana republic they’ll inhabit.

Most Popular

Culture

Road Trip

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Especially future contributors to my GoFundMe page), I am currently in the passenger seat of our family fun mobile, passing mile marker ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Answering my Critics

My post on Elizabeth Warren’s cynical/bonkers proposal to effectively nationalize every American firm with revenue of $1 billion or more has met with predictable criticism. I will address two points here. One, some have complained about the use of the word “expropriation,” or more broadly about ... Read More
Culture

Winslow Homer’s Art, through the Camera Lens

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art's show Winslow Homer and the Camera takes a perceptive, original look at one of America's great art visionaries. It's special for many reasons. It takes a much-considered artist — Homer (1836–1910) is among the gods atop the heap of American artists — and finally makes ... Read More