The email scandal raises troubling questions, namely: why are we talking about emails when Donald Trump still has a chance to become the most powerful person in the history of the world?
The New York Times released a humdinger of a blockbuster this morning, about Donald Trump using a “legally dubious” (but not illegal) maneuver to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes in the Nineties, and indeed, to make large profits off of his business failure. Inside there is a great story about wealth and power in America, in that wretched decade of reflexive excess and miasmatic torpor, and a story, more specifically, about how Donald Trump embodied that.
With a week to go before the election, though, the story will be, as it so often is, the meta one. Will this be enough to knock the latest email scandal (not a scandal) off the front pages, the people who actually decide what’s on the front pages will ask? Or will we remember once again that this isn’t anything new, that Donald Trump as scummy cheat and all-around miserable person isn’t really going to come as a surprise?
AND YET MAYBE IT WILL STOP THE REPUBLICANS WHO LEFT DONALD OVER PUSSYGRABGATE BUT WHO CAME BACK AFTER COMEY’S CONTROVERSIAL OCTOBER SURPRISE FROM FULLY COMMITTING.
It’s about 30 years too late to start whining about the horse race coverage, but we have to do that again. This race is most likely over. If you look at the bearish Silver, Hillary still has a 3 in 4 shot. Wang hasn’t budged, and is still at 99% (indeed, his random drift has moved from 97-98%). Silver is counting on the idea that there might be a big pocket of Trump supporters who aren’t being polled, and who didn’t come out for Romney.
The thing is, I guess that’s possible. I really don’t know. I have been providing rabbinical counsel to less strudy friends who have been sent back into a throat-choked terror over this non-scandal, knowing that the media will try to make a horse race. I try to remain sanguine, and assured, even though in the back of my head I am still terrified. A 25% remains far too high. A 1% chance remains too high.
Because, again, when we are discussing a non-scandal, or when, like we’ll be doing this morning, talking about a scandalous but unsurprising turn and whether that will knock the non-scandal off the front page, we’re still strangely away from the only salient fact about this election: the Presidency of Hillary Clinton is the only thing standing between us and a world-historic disaster.
That honestly can’t be stated enough. If we’re still lucky enough to have history after handing over the nuclear codes and the most powerful military in the history of the earth to a juvenile know-nothing ignorant petty tyrant, history will look back on this as a time of impossible madness.
You can, and should, look at the big and little nitty-gritty. He thinks climate change is a hoax, and we’re already tipping past the point of no return, with the thinnest chance at coming partly back. That’s a disaster. He will appoint Heritage-approved Supreme Court justices (and one imagines lower court), with everything that will mean for civil rights for gays, women, the poor, etc. He’ll enact Paul Ryan’s “eat the poor” budget plans, because he doesn’t care about stuff like that.
It’s all a disaster, but you don’t even have to get into the weeds (not that climate change or women’s health is the weeds, but those would be true for any generic Republican candidate). It’s enough to say that the least-informed, most-ill-temepered, childish, spoiled, id-driven, greedy, shallow, vainglorious, incurious, and just basically dumbest dumb guy that’s ever ran for President still has a chance, even if it is vanishingly small. That the media is talking, or has been talking, about anything else is a dereliction of duty (they were actually getting better until this weekend).
Remember that the United States is the only country ever that can instantly project military and economic (and humanitarian) power to anywhere on the globe. Even if you think we’re slightly diminished, no one else has that capacity, and no one ever has. The most power Roman Emporer was a piker in comparison. The great Khanates conquered most of the known world, but still relied on horses. Even the Soviets couldn’t be like “let’s send a pilotless death boomerang into Yemen!”
And with one week to go until the election, Donald Trump–Donald Trump!–still is on the ballot. Regardless of what happens a week from now, we’ll be reckoning with this for the rest of our lives.