It’s time to Break It Down!
In a Presidential Election year, there is one day bigger than all other days. Election Day. As days go, it is the ultimate arbiter in determining who won, who lost, and by how much. Countless micro-statistics will emerge from tens of thousands of tabulators across the country.
Yesterday was not that day. It was, however, huge. A number of the day’s key events fundamentally shaped, altered or completely re-defined the tone and tenor of how the next 125 days, or until the votes are counted on Tuesday evening, November 8, 2016, will unfold.
To summarize briefly, the day included:
- A statement in an unannounced news conference from FBI Director James Comey, regarding the Clinton e-mail scandal
- The kickoff of the joint appearance phase of the Democratic Campaign, featuring Hillary Clinton and President Obama at a Clinton rally in Charlotte, NC
- In a turnabout from the 2014-midterm elections, Democrats from across the state, including the Gubernatorial Candidate, the Lt. Governor candidate, the U.S. Senate candidate, the U.S. House of Representatives candidate, and the State Secretary of Labor candidate, were all in the building. In 2014, Democrats from across the spectrum, nationwide, fled the President like the plague. While he was polling anemically at the time, it is worth noting, he had already won two national elections. Most of the folks who fled President Obama lost anyway. Who knows? Perhaps he could have helped them.
- A trump Rally in Raleigh, NC, undoubtedly designed to offset the planned Clinton rally in Charlotte, and serendipitously timed to enable The Donald to slam the decision by the FBI not to recommend pressing charges against Clinton.
- In light of item number 3, above, it is worth noting that Republican Senator Richard Burr and GOP Governor Pat McCrory both found reasons to be out-of-State during Mr. Trump’s rally in the State Capital. It also warrants mentioning that Senator Burr, as I have noted in another blog post, is currently planning to skip the Convention in Cleveland.
- The much less publicized, but no less critical reaction that one CNN news story entitled “Sanders supporters meltdown over FBI’s Clinton decision”
Last weekend, Secretary Clinton spent 3 and half hours of a holiday (4th of July) weekend cloistered with the FBI, answering questions about her e-mail server(s). This “voluntary” interview, and it was voluntary; Clinton had actually been requesting it for at least a year, followed by several days an unscheduled, and by most accounts, faux pas of an encounter between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton, potential first, First Dude, on The AG’s plane. Reportedly, Mr. Clinton’s plane was located near Ms. Lynch’s plane on the Tarmac.
Said meeting was purported to have lasted about half hour or so. Not surprisingly, the Republican Party in general, and the Trump Campaign in particular, raised holy heck about the two meeting. It was perceived as highly suspect by virtually all of Mrs. Clinton’s opponents, and certainly regrettable by many of her supporters. The furor that arose following the “chance” encounter prompted AG Lynch to hold a press conference during which she pledged to follow the recommendations of the FBI and federal prosecutors. At that time she indicated she’d made the decision months ago to take this action. That is altogether possible, but the timing, following so closely her meeting with Mr. Clinton, gave Trump and the GOP solid fodder for several news cycles.
After Clinton’s FBI interview Saturday morning, it was generally expected that the Bureau would tale a week or two to mull over the interview before responding. To that end, Tuesday’s response was a surprisingly quick turnaround. And regardless of which side you were on, Director Comey’s announcement had something for you.
First and foremost, the BFD (see Joe Biden on Obamacare); Comey declined to recommend charges against Secretary Clinton. This really was the total obliteration of the elephant in the room. With one fowl swoop, Mr. Comey said, ”No charges are appropriate in this case,” and simultaneously cleared the deck for the Clinton campaign to complete the process of wrapping up the Democratic nomination in Philadelphia, and took the last breath of oxygen from the Sanders campaign. The acronym BFD is apt here, and by no means hype or overstatement.
Alternately, the Director, whom hard core Democrats know is not only a registered Republican (W Bush’s AG), but also active to the extent that he contributed to the McCain and Romney campaigns in ’08, ’12, respectively, disputed many of the assertions previously made by the secretary. In broad strokes, during his 14-minute report, he said:
- The Clinton State Department was extremely careless in handling emails
- Mrs. Clinton did share at least 115 emails deemed classified/8 deemed top secret
- Security culture at the State Department was lacking
- Hostile actors gained access to the email of others with whom Clinton communicated
- Evidence of violations was found
- He found no evidence of intent to share classified or top secret information
- He found no evidence of intent of disloyalty to the U.S.
At least 5 of those bullets points will serve to ensure that this conversation lives throughout the election process. Trump/GOP talking points are in the bank. Nevertheless, the record must reflect that the FBI Director did say also the FBI found no evidence of a cover-up, and no evidence that Clinton’s personal email domain was hacked. Comey put a fine point on the matter by saying “Although there is evidence of potential violations regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
In yesterday afternoon’s Clinton rally, which I had the opportunity to attend, the President, turned campaigner-in-chief, and candidate Clinton, worked a raucous crowd at the Charlotte Convention Center. The pair formed a 1-2 punch that excoriated Trump’s ideas, more than the candidate himself. The wall, belittling other races and ethnic groups, banning Muslims, etc., are all ideas that drive a wedge between people rather than bring them together. But beyond the absence of substance from Mr. Trump, the President noted that Mrs. Clinton’s experience is the preeminent super qualifier. In fact, he said, she is the most qualified man or woman to ever seek the office of President of the United States.
For her part, Hillary praised the President for rescuing the nation from a second Great Depression. She asserted that her job, as his successor, would be to secure the change that he facilitated and to take us further in areas of clean energy, continuing to de-nuclearize the world, raise the minimum wage, implement debt-free college, and free community college, and provide a plan to pay for it all, among other things.
Anyone who has ever attended a venue in which the President is featured knows that going to see the President requires a commitment. Folks lined up in advance, stood in the heat waiting for the doors to open, waited for hours once inside, all to see and hear the two candidates whom they so greatly respect and admire. It was not at all surprising that many replied in classic black church call-and-response style, “Preach,” when President Obama said he knew he was preaching to the choir.
In current polling, President Obama has a 50% approval rating on average, which is near historic for a President approaching the end of his second term. The obvious offshoot of that turn of events is that the chickens, in this case scared Democrats; came home to roost. As noted in the third enumerated item above, a plethora of democrats showed up for Mrs. Clinton’s rally. And make no mistake about it, although it was Clinton’s rally, and she paid for the Air Force One flight to Charlotte, the PA Announcer introduced Barack Obama, President of the United States, when the pair came out of the tunnel, they stood behind the Seal of the President of the United States, and he was the keynote speaker, the last to take the podium. It had to be special to return to the City in which he was bestowed the nomination in 2012, in the state he turned blue in 2008, and boost the candidacy of the last person he vanquished in his initial run, also in 2008. It was a good day and a great event for her; it was an outstanding day for him.
Last night the scene shifted to Raleigh, the State’s (North Carolina) Capital. Trump was Trump. He spoke for over an hour (66 minutes) and his bombast was aimed at crooked Hillary, clueless Obama, and a host of rigged systems, including the economic system (people have dropped out of the search for employment and are not counted in determining unemployment rates), the political system (Louisiana was stolen from him, even though he got the most votes, and the system is rigged, even though he won…go figure), and the justice system (how could Hillary not be indicted). He emphasized that Clinton put the safety of the entire country at risk; he noted in particular that her judgment is horrible.
In perhaps his biggest stretch, he accused the Clintons of bribing Attorney General Lynch, who may be considered to serve as AG in a Clinton Administration. This alleged bribe somehow resulted in Clinton not being charged. Her reward? Continued employment in Mrs. Clinton’s administration, if she wins. A boon she would, of course be deprived of, should Mrs. Clinton be forced to withdraw from the race. Never mind that as a former AG, Lynch would almost certainly command a much higher salary in the private open marketplace.
Mr. Trump has had a fairly uneven ride on his way to nailing down the nomination. Despite having amassed the number of delegates necessary to secure the nomination, a many Republicans have been reticent to endorse him, more than a few have said they will not vote for him, some even saying they will vote for the Democrat, one is suing to be released from voting for him at the Convention, and at least one, George Will, left the Party, because of Trump. Given that well-documented unevenness, it is no surprise there were prominent no-shows last night in Raleigh. Senator Richard Burr said he needed to be in Washington. Campaign spokesperson Jesse Hunt framed it thusly:
- “After multiple terror attacks associated with the Islamic State this week, Senator Burr is attending to his duties in Washington as Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman.”
In a fluke of nature, Governor McCrory was also unavailable. His spokesman, Ricky Diaz said:
- “The governor’s office said yesterday that he will be heading out-of-state today for a long-scheduled trip with the First Lady, so he’s unable to attend tonight’s event with Mr. Trump.”
If anybody can relate to that cold shoulder Mr. Trump was feeling on a warm summer evening in North Carolina, I’m sure it’s President Obama. Of course, I don’t imagine Mr. Trump will be reaching out to the guy he doesn’t even believe is an American (but does think is a Muslim), anyway.
And then there is Bernie Sanders; perhaps more aptly, there are his supporters. Director Comey’s announcement seemed to have made for one last twist of the dagger for some of the Senator’s most loyal supporters. Among them, there is a vocal minority who hoped, even advocated for a Clinton indictment, which in turn could catapult Senator Sanders back into the nomination conversation. This eternal spring of human breast hope exists, despite a strong indication that if Hillary had been thwarted, Vice President Biden would quite possibly have been inserted as the nominee. But I digress.
The so-called bitter-enders, folks aligned in both the Sanders and Trump camps, pointed to yesterday’s pending decision as the “FBI Convention.” Oh well, it’s fair to say, in retrospect, that dog didn’t hunt. When Comey made the announcement, there was a social media eruption. The tart responses included the following tweets:
The #SystemIsRigged indeed. So disgusted. #Demexit #Dexit #BernieOrBust #OurRevolution #NotMeUs #UpToUs #TimeIsNow
581 581 Retweets 776 776 likes
We’re in trouble.
1,534 1,534 Retweets 2,907 2,907 likes
Today marks a turning point. We now have unequivocal proof of how bad things are. It can only serve to strengthen our resolve #NeverHillary
324 324 Retweets 378 378 likes
Teachers For Bernie @BernieTeachers
Just fire them all and get rid of the @FBI. They don’t uphold laws and have proven to waste taxpayer funds.
Arabs For Bernie @ArabsForBernie
We keep asking how many mistakes can one candidate for #POTUS claim before it’s too many. #ClintonEmails #Comey #MadamMistakes
Where FBI Director Comey openly said if it was anybody other than Hillary, they’d have serious consequences.
- RETWEETS 1,972
- LIKES 1,799
- 12:49 PM – 5 Jul 2016
Retweet if the Democratic Party is dead to you
587 587 Retweets 356 356 likes
I guess if you are rich and have political power like @HillaryClinton not even the FBI can touch you #BernieOrBust #StillSanders
147 147 Retweets 169 169 likes
If you’re an uber rich old white lady -u can break the law, help rig a primary, trade gvmnt favors for $ & never face consequences.Yay Comey
There has been a fair amount of discourse regarding whether Sanders’ supporters as a collective, will join Team Hillary for the closing thrust of the campaign, as Hillary’s supporters did with Team Obama in 2008. Senator Sanders has said he is going to the Convention and endeavor to alter the platform. He has also said he will do everything in his power to defeat Donald Trump. However, he has said, and many of his supporters parrot, that it is up to Hillary to make the changes (essentially adopting his positions) to persuade his supporters to join her. In a quirk of contemporary politics, the system is deemed rigged by some Sanders supporters because the Campaign with the most votes has not fallen on its sword and conceded to the Campaign that competed admirably…but finished with fewer votes. It’s a bit of a head scratcher, but we’ll soon see how that works. The Convention kicks off July 25th.
There have been a lot of hugely important days in the 2016 Campaign. There are sure to be more. But when all things are considered, few have been or are likely to be more important that yesterday; at least not until November 8th. So I stand by my initial premise; yesterday was the…”Biggest Day of Election 2016…So Far!”
I’m done; holla back!
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Thank you! It was a high energy event here in CLT. The President was on point, as usual. Trump is nuts, and at the very least suffers from cognitive dissonance. He reminds me of the King in “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” His supporters & too often the media are syncophants, who too often seem fearful of engaging & telling him to stop cutting-the-fool.