Just ahead of tonight's final debate (from which I shall be several thousand miles away):
As I've said for years - on radio, TV and in print - for me the overriding issue in American politics is the corruption. In the Obama era, we have seen the remorseless merging of the party and the state - in the IRS, in the Justice Department and elsewhere. Whatever one feels about, say, Scandinavia, they at least come to their statism and socialism more or less honestly. Not so the United States.
It's bad enough that Democrats aren't agitated about this corruption - but then it works to their advantage. Slightly more mysterious is why so many of my friends on the right aren't incensed by it. For months, conservative commentators assured us that, when it comes to straight arrows, no arrow is straighter than FBI honcho James Comey - non-partisan, career public servant, will follow the evidence whereso'er it leads; why, "no one in law enforcement" is "more capable of navigating through a political maelstrom" and any attempts to politicize the outcome will ensure that "Comey will resign in protest, and other high-level FBI officials could follow him out the door".
All bollocks. Bollocks on stilts. Like everything else the Clintons touch, Comey's FBI is hopelessly corrupted - and certainly more corrupt than J Edgar Hoover's FBI, at least in the sense that Hoover was independent enough not to get rolled. The revelations of what happened reveal Comey to be a hack and a squish: he offered immunity to Hillary's aides not to facilitate his investigation but to obstruct any further investigation; he allowed witnesses to Hillary's crimes to serve as her "lawyers"; and he physically destroyed the evidence - that is, the laptops. A 6' 8" gummi worm would be more of a straight arrow.
Now come the latest revelations. Powerline's John Hinderaker writes:
In the first page, an unidentified FBI employee says he was "pressured" to change the classification of an email to render it unclassified. This pressure came from someone within the FBI, who said he had been contacted by Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, who "had asked his assistance in altering the email's classification in exchange for a 'quid pro quo.'" The quid pro quo was that, if the FBI would say the email was unclassified, the State Department would allow the FBI to "place more Agents in countries where they are presently forbidden."
So, to add to the corrupt revenue agency and the corrupt justice department, we now have a corrupt national law enforcement agency and a corrupt foreign ministry - willing, indeed, to subordinate national security and its own diplomatic policy to the personal needs of Hillary Clinton. Needless to say, if you get your news from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times, etc, etc, you will be entirely unaware of all this. Which is the way they plan on operating for the next eight years.
A small but telling point: Wikileaks' Julian Assange has lived in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for over four years. But not until he leaked against Hillary was his Internet cut off. Hillary, out of office, has a swifter and more ruthless global reach than Hillary in office on the night of Benghazi. And, should she win, her view of her subjects is that we should have the same information access as Ecuadorian Embassy refugees.
John Hinderaker continues:
We have here a clear pattern of corruption that makes Watergate look like child's play. Hillary's aide, Patrick Kennedy, tried to bribe the FBI to change the classification of a Benghazi document so as to enable Hillary's false claim that she didn't send or receive classified information on her illegal home server. The FBI, to its credit, refused. (James Comey wasn't involved at that stage.)
Hillary's aide then asked whether the FBI would be saying anything publicly about the classification issue. Once assured that the FBI would be silent, Hillary took the stage and alleged publicly, and falsely, that she never used her illegal home server to send or receive classified information...
Donald Trump has his faults, but Hillary Clinton is far too corrupt to serve as President of the United States.
On that last point, I agree wholeheartedly. In any society, the chief magistrate's first duty is to uphold the law, and throughout human history his easiest temptation, once in office, has been to regard himself as above it. In this case, the American people would be electing someone who, not yet in office, is already above the law, and way beyond it. (Even her bodily fluids are above the law.) That would be an extraordinary act, and Hillary and her cronies would be entirely justified in treating such an electorate with utter contempt.
As for today's impotent and ineffectual Republican establishment, they'll look like rock-ribbed steel-spined titans compared to the husks that will remain after two Hillary terms.
The corruption might not seem directly relevant to the rise of Donald Trump, but it's there, implicitly. The present arrangements work for the political class, the permanent bureaucracy, their client groups, and the lawless. But not for millions of the law-abiding. Consider illegal immigration, for example, which pre-Trump was entirely discussed in terms of the interests of the lawbreakers - how to "bring them out of the shadows", how to give them "a path to citizenship", celebrate their "family values" and "work ethic" - and never in terms of the law-abiding, whose wages they depress, whose communities they transform, and, in too many criminal cases, whose lives they wreck. Victor Davis Hanson writes:
Something has gone terribly wrong with the Republican party, and it has nothing to do with the flaws of Donald Trump. Something like his tone and message would have to be invented if he did not exist. None of the other 16 primary candidates — the great majority of whom had far greater political expertise, more even temperaments, and more knowledge of issues than did Trump — shared Trump's sense of outrage — or his ability to convey it — over what was wrong: The lives and concerns of the Republican establishment in the media and government no longer resembled those of half their supporters.
That's exactly right. This time last year, to prevent Trump all you had to do was convey that same sense of outrage. As I wrote on July 10th 2015 - a mere month after Trump entered the race:
Trump, like other philosophically erratic politicians from Denmark to Greece, has tapped into a very basic strain of cultural conservatism: the question of how far First World peoples are willing to go in order to extinguish their futures on the altar of "diversity".
As Ann Coulter's new book Adios, America! lays out in remorseless detail, Kate Steinle is dead because the entire Democratic Party, two-thirds of the Republican Party and 100 per cent of the diseased federal-state-municipal bureaucracy prioritizes myths over reality. Yes, it's distressing to persons of taste and discrimination that the only person willing to address that reality is Donald Trump. But that's because he's not the reality-show freak here. The fake-o lame-o reality freakshow is the political pseudo-campaign being waged within the restraints demanded by the media and Macy's. So, if Donald Trump is the only guy willing to bust beyond those bounds, we owe him a debt of gratitude. If, as Karl Rove proposes, other candidates are able to talk about the subject in a more "inclusive" way, so be it. But, if "inclusive" is code for not addressing it at all, nuts to that.
I think we now know that "inclusive" is code for not addressing it at all, and that, if Trump loses next month, that's what the GOP establishment will go right back to doing.
Will he lose? Given that he's running against both the Democrats and half the Republican Party, he remains tenaciously just about competitive. But Victor explains where the math comes up short:
What has always been missing to end the long public career of Hillary Clinton is a four- or five-percentage-point boost from a mélange of the so-called Never Trump Republicans, as well as women and suburban, college-educated independents. Winning back some of these critics could translate into a one- or two-point lead over Clinton in critical swing states.
Many of those openly supporting Hillary among the right-of-center pundit class are people I have known and worked with over the years - from Dorothy Rabinowitz to Max Boot to (he's considering it) Glenn Beck. I don't quite get this. As Victor puts it:
In this low-bar presidential race, why do conservative establishmentarians and past foreign-policy officials feel a need to publish their support for the Democratic candidate, when their liberal counterparts feel no such urge to distance themselves from their own nominee? Is what Clinton actually did, in leaving Iraq abruptly, or lying about Benghazi, or violating federal security laws, so much less alarming than what Trump might do in shaking up NATO or "bombing the hell out of ISIS"?
Just so. Trump is an unknown. But, to channel Donald Rumsfeld, Hillary is the most known known in the history of knowns. And what we know of her is that she's stinkingly corrupt, above the law, and able to suborn entire government agencies in the cause of her corruption. Where do you think we're gonna be after eight years of that?
Oh, and it will be eight years. The NeverTrumpers are saying, "Don't worry. We'll get it right in 2020", just like after 2012 they said, "Don't worry. We'll get it right in 2016", and after 2008 they said, "Don't worry. We'll get it right in 2012." Next time never comes. There are no tomorrows for the Republican Party, because, unlike the GOP, the Democrats use their victories very effectively.
Victor Davis Hanson lives on a small family farm in rural California, at the sharp end of the artificial and lawless demographic transformation of a once Golden State. With respect to my former colleagues in the New York and Washington commentariat, I don't think they have any idea of how bleak life is in many parts of this country. And I don't mean Jimmy Carter-like "malaise" - a brief blip after three decades of post-war prosperity - but bleakness as a permanent feature of life. Perhaps I'm touchy about the corruption because I'm a foreigner and I've lived in countries with clean government. Perhaps I'm sensitive to the contempt in which a put-upon middle-class is held because I've spent much of the last year in wealthy first-world countries (France, Sweden, Germany) that are on the verge of implosion over their delusional immigration policies. But the indifference from influential conservatives to both the despair and the naked corruption is deeply disturbing.
Think of what the last eight years have wrought - Obamacare, a weaponized IRS, six-figure fines for homophobic bakeries - and then pitch America forward to 2024. Picture the most absurd scenario you can concoct - say, a federal transgender-bathroom regime. Oh, no, wait, we've already got that.
The left is serious about power, and they don't waste time. The idea that the most personally corrupt candidate in modern American history will govern as some sort of benign moderate centrist placeholder until the wankers who thought Jeb Bush was a superstar shoo-in come up with their next inspiration is utterly preposterous.
Enjoy the debate.