Trump, Clin­ton and the FBI

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Gwynne Dyer is an in­de­pen­dent jour­nal­ist whose ar­ti­cles are pub­lished in 45 coun­tries.

DON­ALD TRUMP may not win the elec­tion next week – al­though he is at least go­ing to come close – but even if he loses, the wells are poi­soned. Ei­ther ‘Crooked Hil­lary’ be­comes pres­i­dent and spends the next four years fight­ing off le­gal chal­lenges and fear­ing as­sas­si­na­tion by some of Trump’s more de­ranged ad­mir­ers. Or Trump be­comes the 45th US pres­i­dent, and the United States be­comes the world’s big­gest and most danger­ous loose can­non.

The race was prob­a­bly al­ways closer than the opin­ion polls sug­gested. The last-minute de­ci­sion of FBI di­rec­tor James Comey to hint pub­licly that he MIGHT re­open the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Hil­lary Clin­ton’s “ex­tremely care­less” (his words) use of a pri­vate email server when she was sec­re­tary of state has un­doubt­edly made it closer.

In­evitably, the me­dia took this to mean that he HAD re­opened the case, and it is hard to be­lieve that this was not done with mal­ice afore­thought. As John Podesta, Clin­ton’s cam­paign man­ager, said: “Di­rec­tor Comey’s let­ter (to Congress) refers to emails that have come to light in an un­re­lated case, but we have no idea what those emails are, and di­rec­tor him­self notes they may not even be sig­nif­i­cant.”

Trump was al­ready claim­ing that the elec­tion was “rigged” against him and that he might not ac­cept a Clin­ton vic­tory. Comey has cre­ated an equal and op­po­site like­li­hood that Democrats will re­gard a Trump vic­tory as il­le­git­i­mate and refuse to ac­cept him as pres­i­dent. Ei­ther way, it will be the ‘birther’ con­spir­acy all over again, but this time in seven league boots.

This is al­most en­tirely Trump’s fault. With con­stant lies and threats and per­sonal abuse, he has brought the en­tire elec­toral process into dis­re­pute, and the Amer­i­can me­dia have let him get away with it be­cause he was ‘en­ter­tain­ing’. As Les Moonves, chair­man of the CBS tele­vi­sion net­work, ad­mit­ted eight months ago, when Trump was just start­ing out: “It may not be good for Amer­ica, but it’s damn good for CBS.”

THRESH­OLD OF GREAT POWER

Many bil­lions of dol­lars of free pub­lic­ity later, this ig­no­rant and bom­bas­tic “so­ciopath” – the word that Tony Schwartz, the ghost writer of Trump’s pre­ma­ture au­to­bi­og­ra­phy The Art of the Deal, uses to de­scribe him – stands on the thresh­old of great power. And Schwartz, in an in­ter­view with The Ob­server last week­end, was very fright­ened about the pos­si­bil­ity that he would be­come pres­i­dent.

“Stag­ger­ingly danger­ous. Worse than I imag­ined when he be­gan to run ... . He’s way more out of con­trol in the last cou­ple of months than I’ve ever seen him. He doesn’t have any core be­liefs be­yond his own ag­gran­dis­e­ment and power.” Schwartz didn’t even find it over the top to talk about a Trump pres­i­dency in terms of mar­tial law, an end of press free­dom, and nu­clear war.

We must hope that re­ally is over the top, but we should also bear in mind that Tony Schwartz has prob­a­bly spent more time ac­tu­ally talk­ing to Don­ald Trump (while writ­ing the book that launched him as a celebrity) than any other non-fam­ily adult has done in the past 30 years.

But the omens are not good if Trump loses the elec­tion ei­ther be­cause that doesn’t mean that Clin­ton wins it. At least not for the very large chunk of the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion who will have voted for The Don­ald.

BIT­TERLY DI­VIDED

Hil­lary Clin­ton would have to pre­side over a bit­terly di­vided coun­try in which al­most half the pop­u­la­tion be­lieves she has stolen the pres­i­dency – and there is a strong pos­si­bil­ity that Trump would start send­ing out coded calls for vi­o­lence.

He al­ready did this once, in Au­gust, when he was whip­ping up a crowd with ac­cu­sa­tions that Clin­ton would over­ride the Se­cond Amend­ment to the US Con­sti­tu­tion, which most gun own­ers be­lieve en­shrines the right of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens to own weapons.

If Clin­ton cre­ated a ma­jor­ity in favour of gun con­trol on the US Supreme Court, Trump warned the au­di­ence, then that’s it: “Noth­ing you can do, folks.” The pro-gun crowd started to boo, and af­ter a lit­tle hes­i­ta­tions Trump added: “Al­though the Se­cond Amend­ment peo­ple – maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Like most pub­lic in­cite­ments to vi­o­lence, it was veiled and oblique, but it was also un­mis­tak­able. It would be hero­ically op­ti­mistic to be­lieve that Trump would not serve up more of the same if he loses the elec­tion. One way or an­other, it is go­ing to be an ugly and fright­en­ing time in the United States.

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