The headline is Latin for “The law is for little people,” which must be the motto for the Clinton School of Law.
James Taranto goes on from there:
“I may be alone in saying this,” writes PJMedia’s Roger Simon, “but . . ., James Comey may have hurt Hillary Clinton more than he helped her in his statement Tuesday concerning the Grand Email Controversy. He may have let her off the hook legally, but personally he has left the putative Democratic candidate scarred almost beyond recognition.”
Simon may be engaged in wishful thinking, but he isn’t alone. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver observes that “the chance of an indictment was extremely low”:
And conditional on there not being an indictment, this wasn’t a great outcome for [Mrs.] Clinton. Comey was quite critical of [Mrs.] Clinton and elevated the issue above the partisan fray a bit, in a way that could play well in attacks down the line.
A New York Times headline echoes the sentiment: “F.B.I.’s Critique of Hillary Clinton Is a Ready-Made Attack Ad.” Alan Dershowitz, writing at the Hill, suggests that Comey should have kept quiet:
In general, the principal [sic] of “lenity”—which requires doubts to be resolved in close cases against prosecution—applies even more strictly when the decision to indict would effectively deny the public the right to exercise its judgment about who should be the president.
So the bottom line is that [Mrs.] Clinton will not be indicted, but the director of the FBI has issued a statement that may have a considerable impact on the upcoming election. This raises fundamental structural questions about the role of the FBI in investigating political figures.
Dershowitz hedges, insisting that “Comey is an honorable man” and that what really worries him is that “a future J. Edgar Hoover” might “make the kinds of decisions that Comey has made in this case.”
Scott McKay at the American Spectator likens Comey to a Vietnam war hero:
If you want to understand Comey’s statements you might have to recall those messages the downed pilots at the Hanoi Hilton occasionally would record for the folks back home—and particularly the one Rear Adm. Jeremiah Denton offered up, in which amid his happy statements about humane treatment by the North Vietnamese were obscured by what looked like unnatural blinking. When Denton’s off-putting tics were matched with Morse code, it was obvious he was spelling out the word “torture” to the American public.
Comey’s statements can be seen as a bit like Denton’s. He laid out a perfectly defensible case for prosecuting Hillary and then gave a cursory, obviously indefensible case for leaving her alone at the end. In doing so, he set the American public ablaze with outrage and signaled to all who would listen that something fundamentally corrupt is going on in the Justice Department.
“Ablaze with outrage” sounds hyperbolic, but a Rasmussen poll taken last night finds 54% of likely voters disagree with Comey’s decision not to recommend criminal charges. Unsurprisingly, opinions vary by party, with 79% of Republicans and 63% of unaffiliated voters disagreeing, vs. just 25% of Democrats. Moreover, “81% of all voters believe powerful people get preferential treatment when they break the law. Just 10% disagree.”
McClatchy reports that “in focus groups in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Florida throughout this year, . . . the emails kept coming up among undecided voters. While most people were not familiar with the emails’ contents, they thought this much: They were stark evidence that [Mrs.] Clinton was arrogant and untrustworthy.”
As Simon observes, Comey’s decision pretty much guarantees the Democrats are stuck with Mrs. Clinton: “A Hillary indictment, in all likelihood, would have meant a new and more scandal-free Democratic candidate, a Joe Biden perhaps, far more potent than the seriously wounded [Mrs.] Clinton who now has even more explaining to do.” …
Several commentators have compared Comey’s performance with Chief Justice John Roberts’s effort, in the 2012 ObamaCare case, to have it both ways. Roberts agreed with Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito that the law as written was unconstitutional—but he effectively rewrote it, allowing himself to join the four other justices in letting it stand.
“It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices,” Roberts declared in a section of his opinion that no other justice joined. That’s true as a general matter but was a cop-out in the case at hand. It most assuredly is the job of the Supreme Court to protect the people from unconstitutional laws—the enactment of which by definition is a consequence of their political choices.
Likewise, it is the job of the FBI and the Justice Department to enforce the laws. By making a strong case against Mrs. Clinton while declining to pursue it, Comey has given reason to think that election or appointment to, or nomination for, high office is a license to violate the law.
A USA Today poll published early yesterday (i.e., before the Comey announcement) finds Mrs. Clinton ahead of Trump by five points, 45.6% to 40.4%. “Sixty-one percent report feeling alarmed about the election,” the paper notes. You have to wonder about the 39% who don’t.
Apparently national security is also for little people. Any federal employee with security clearance who had done a fraction of what Clinton did would have been at minimum fired, and probably prosecuted. Gov. Scott Walker said that the Russians and Chinese know more about what is in those emails than Americans do. And certainly Vladimir Putin and China’s leaders will, instead of release the emails, use their content to blackmail Hillary once she becomes president. Ponder that one, liberals.