After learning that FBI investigators had found a new trove of possibly related emails on a laptop belonging to former New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, husband of Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin, what was he to do?
He could have withheld the information, which would have been proper procedure, to find out if the new emails contained classified information or came from Hillary Clinton’s server — or had anything to do with the Clinton investigation.
But, if he had withheld it until after Election Day, he might find himself facing impeachment hearings led by angry Republicans.
Either way, the revelation put the brakes on Clinton’s momentum and gave a megaton-sized power boost to the Trump campaign’s morale.
Of course, in the seesaw way that both campaigns have wrestled with scandals off and on, the Clinton revelations were followed on Halloween night by a new horror on the Trump side.
Citing newly obtained documents, The New York Times reported that Trump used a tax avoidance maneuver in the 1990s to avoid reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income. He was advised at the time that the loophole might not be legal and it since has been banned. Now it’s another reminder of how Trump has broken tradition by steadfastly refusing to release his income tax returns to the public. So much for transparency.
But, alas, in the contest by each candidate to make the other into the issue-of-the-day, this pair of dueling scandals put Clinton at a disadvantage. It’s hard to draw people’s attention to a story about numbers and tax regulations when you have a sleaze magnet like Weiner, charged with sexting a 15-year-old girl, on the other.
Early polling indicated little change in Clinton’s lead, but the polls can’t tell you much about turnout. Last minute scandals can dampen turnout with the false notion that, as former Alabama Gov. George Wallace used to say of both major parties, “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between ‘em.”
If this campaign has shown us anything, it is just how different two candidates can be. As I have written before, the current presidential race has become for many of us less of a question about picking the best candidate as it is about picking the less-flawed candidate.
To me, Clinton has been a flawed candidate after years of scandals. Some were legitimate, even if most were heated exaggerations. But Trump’s election in my view would be, to use one of his favorite words, a disaster. Make up your own mind, but don’t be so campaign-weary that you think your vote doesn’t matter.