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Comey Resets America's Doomsday Clock

If the damage from the email story is limited and Clinton manages to win, it's going to be a much closer election than we imagined even a couple of days ago.
Comey Resets America's Doomsday Clock
Image from: Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency

In the long run, the new email story will probably be a big fat nothing for Hillary Clinton. as the L.A. Times reports,

The emails [found on a computer jointly used by Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin] were not to or from Clinton, and contained information that appeared to be more of what agents had already uncovered, the official said, but in an abundance of caution, they felt they needed to further scrutinize them.

But now there's a real possibility of a Donald Trump victory. I wish we could look at that just as a problem for the Republican Party -- I've argued for months that the GOP will easily survive Trump's candidacy (if Trump is defeated, the Beltway will welcome Paul Ryan et al. back with open arms, and the party itself will unite around the goal of destroying Hillary Clinton), but that's only true if Trump loses. If he wins, he's going to be the worst president in American history by a wide margin. He's going to be a national embarrassment. That's going to do tremendous damage to the party that enabled his rise to power.

But we can't just look at the situation that way because of the damage Trump is likely to do to the country. He's not just going to the baseline damage any Republican would do -- transferring vast amounts of money from the tax coffers into the pockets of the rich, gutting regulatory processes, taking a shredder to the social safety net, blocking efforts to deal with climate change, appointing reactionary federal judges, opposing reproductive rights and LGBT rights, expanding access to guns -- though he's going to do all those things, or, rather, he's going to let congressional Republicans and advisers do all those things and he's going to sign off on them without even reading summaries of what he's done. I've always said that if you like Sam Brownback's Kansas or Bobby Jindal's Louisiana, you'll love the next Republican presidency.

But beyond all that, we're facing years of pre-adolescent bullyboy pique backed up with the threat to use nuclear weapons. We're facing a resurgence of organized and unorganized racism on a scale that would have unimaginable even in the presidency of a typical dog-whistling Republican. We're looking at a return of torture as U.S. policy. We're looking at consequential decisions being handed off to Machiavelli wannabes such as Roger Stone, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, and General Michael Flynn. We're facing the likelihood that we'll have a president of the United States who defers to Vladimir Putin. We'll have trade wars that threaten the global economy. We might have a default, because Trump loves using and manipulating debt. We'll have religious tests for immigration. We'll have a merciless deportation force. And we'll at least have a groundbreaking for the wall, because when Trump can't instantly snap his fingers and make everything better, he'll need to have the promise of the wall to keep his base happy.

But all this is cool for establishment Republicans, right? All they care about are the tax and regulatory cuts the Koch brothers want.

If the damage from the email story is limited and Clinton manages to win, it's going to be a much closer election than we imagined even a couple of days ago. That might still be possible -- the email story might be background noise a week from now, the Clinton campaign is better at getting out the vote, and we can't rule out the possibility of another headline-grabbing self-inflicted wound by Trump. The betting markets still think Clinton's got it won. But a victory by two points in the popular vote and two or three states in the Electoral College will have even "responsible" Republicans using the word "rigged" -- and the email investigation could inspire what I've been fearing, a mainstream Republican campaign to nullify the popular vote by urging Electoral College electors not to vote for Clinton in states she won. And I'm not sure what happens if Congress decides not to certify a Clinton victory. I'm not sure that can't happen. Maybe it will lead to a Mike Pence presidency, but the damage to American democracy will be incalculable.

This is what you wanted, GOP. America will blame you for it in the long run -- or what's left of America.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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