Thinking about what comes next in this most bizarre of campaign seasons, it occurs to me that this is a good lesson in how nothing exists in isolation. Every decision has consequences. Those consequences may not be obvious and they may not show up until much later, but no action exists without a reaction. It’s the old gag about the time traveler going into the past, stepping on a spider, only to return to a world ruled by super intelligent insects. It is formally known as the Butterfly Effect.
In the early days of the Clinton administration, Team Clinton hoped to put a fellow crook in the job of attorney general. That way, they could make sure they had a member of the family blocking the inevitable criminal probes that follow the Clintons around like an odor.They tried Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood, but both failed to get confirmed. They settled on Janet Reno, a dull-witted bureaucrat just happy to have the work. They put her in the job for the same reason crooked southern politicians install their retarded brother in-law as sheriff. She was too dumb to get curious.
It mostly worked, but her stupidity also kept her from blocking cases that would prove to be embarrassing to the family. A real pro in the job would have headed off the intern problem, for example, before that got to Ken Starr. In fact, Kimba Wood is clever enough to have quashed the whole special prosecutor thing entirely. In other words, putting a stupid person in the job worked up until they needed a clever person in the job. You can be sure that Janet Reno does not get Solstice cards from the Clinton family.
Team Obama tabbed James Comey to the job of Director of the FBI primarily because he was harmless. Republicans had no problems with him and Democrats were not afraid of him. That’s not to say he is a crook. He’s just one of those careerists, who make a point of doing no more than the job requires. You run into thee guys all over government because they never get curious and ask too many questions. Politicians love these guys because they look like Boy Scouts, but they never cause any trouble.
For most of what the FBI does, having a straitlaced guy like Comey at the top works just fine. He’s an able administrator, who will be respected by his staff for being fair and sticking to the rules. His lack of political ambition means he can get along with the rank and file. So much of what the FBI does is just process, they need process guys to make sure the processes are followed. The Bureau has not been the swashbuckling crime fighters we see in TV for generations. It’s mostly bureaucrats processing paper.
The decision to put him in the top job looked like a genius move until last week. Having a go-along-to-get-a-long guy handling the Clinton problem made it easy to push him into a favorable decision. The trouble is, he is an honest guy with a conscience and apparently his conscience finally got the better of him. The same qualities that made it easy for the politicians to push him around, made it easy for his subordinates to push him to take on the Clinton Crime Family in the most spectacular way imaginable.
My bet is more than a few people in the Obama White House are thinking they should have found a crook to put into that job. If not a crook, at least someone with ambition for a life in DC after his term at the Bureau was up. That’s the kind of guy who would look for a way to make everyone happy, because he wants friends in town, not enemies. Comey is looking a lot like a guy who will be happy to retire to some small college job teaching law, after he finishes up his public service at the Bureau.
Now the Democrats have the worst possible problem. When they want to train all of their weapons on Trump and his defects, they now have to peel off a few divisions to attack Comey and the FBI. The trouble with that is it means this story stays on the front page. The Clinton campaign is about focusing everyone’s attention on Trump’s flaws so people don’t notice her corruption and unpleasantness. Now they have to choice but to talk about her corruption and everyone gets reminded of her unpleasantness.
What makes this even worse for Clinton is the subtext of this election is the systemic rot in the form of lying and rule breaking. The reason Trump’s line about the system being rigged resonates is most people think the pols are lying and the media is covering for them. This is the sort of story that presses on that wound. In the fullness of time, the face of this era of corruption will be Hillary Clinton. She is everything that is wrong with politics. This e-mail caper and the current drama over it just reminds everyone of why they’re pissed off.