The Corner

Hillary, the FBI, and America

About the continuing immunity of Hillary Rodham Clinton, I have a few comments:

Confidence in government depends on a roughly evenhanded application of the law. Confidence in government is important in any society. The seeming exemption of Hillary Clinton from the law adds yet another tear to our social fabric.

Yesterday on Twitter, as I have just done, I used the phrase “roughly evenhanded.” Some people didn’t like it — the “roughly” part. What I mean is this: When you are a child, you are scandalized that a few people are stopped for going over the speed limit while most people are not. Where’s the justice in that? Then, as you get older, you calm down a bit.

No one can expect ideally evenhanded application of the law. Human roughness intrudes. But when you see Hillary Clinton skate, you think, “What are we? A great constitutional republic or Paraguay?” (by which I mean no particular offense to Paraguay).

Our more heated populists claim, “The system is rigged!” They are not exactly right — America is less rigged than the great majority of countries. But they are not exactly wrong. People should have confidence that politicians and other public officials, or other important and well-connected people, are not above the law. Such confidence is hard to have.

In kindergarten, we tell people that no one — and that means no one — in this country is above the law. At least we used to tell them that. I have not checked in with kindergarten lately. Now, I think there is a place for polite fictions. (“No opinion is better than any other.”) But, today, I would have a hard time speaking to a kindergartener with confidence. You could say, “The ideal is …”

You will remember Leona Helmsley, the much-vilified New York hôtelière. I’m not sure she deserved her vilification. (Often, people don’t. I learned that very early.) But she was alleged to have said, “Only the little people pay taxes.” Do only “little people” face legal consequences?

“A nation of laws, not men.” That is something else we are taught in kindergarten, or not long after. Our constitutional republic depends on the truth of it. Without it — we are up a creek.

I have a sharp memory from late in Reagan’s second term. Ed Meese was under investigation. The prosecutor, Mr. McKay, said, in effect, “Meese is guilty, but I’m not going to bring charges.” Meese was furious. He said, in effect, “Either charge me and let me fight to clear my name, or shut the hell up.” I understood him entirely.

What was the point of Comey’s indictment without an indictment, so to speak? It was a kind of tease.

The good news for Hillary supporters is: She’s a liar — and a perpetual liar — but there’s nothing the law can do about it, or will do about it.

A final word, for now: When I was growing up, the Left hated — and I mean hated — the FBI. It was a demon-agency for them. I trust they like it better now. They should.

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