The Clinton team’s reaction to the now famous Comey letter strikes me as self-destructively hostile and defensive. Clinton is fighting this on exactly the wrong grounds.
It doesn’t make sense to turn this into a referendum on the FBI director’s character. Thirty-eight percent of Democrats and 85 percent of independents don’t think Clinton is honest or trustworthy. The only people who will pick her over James Comey in an honesty contest are the hardcore partisans who are already on her side.
Clinton has been running as the candidate of competent institutions. Her campaign was just arguing that doubting the election’s outcome was undermining democracy. Now she is suggesting that President Obama’s FBI director is launching a partisan witch hunt against the candidate of President Obama’s party.
I don’t see how any of this could make sense to a swing ;voter. Clinton could have leveraged public trust in the FBI to her advantage and downplayed the news. She could have said that she had no doubt that the FBI would do a thorough and competent job, and find nothing of any interest — and now let the FBI do its job while we talk about good jobs, affordable education, secure retirements, and the rest.
But she couldn’t do that. She had to act like a paranoid, chronically deceptive politician who has something to hide. Maybe that is because she isn’t acting.