Elec­tion Day equals Obama’s ab­solv­ing

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - An­drew Mal­colm

— These are tense, wor­ri­some times for Amer­i­cans. Elec­tions are sup­posed to be di­vi­sive, through the vote­count­ing any­way.

But this cast of can­di­date char­ac­ters with its in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iors, re­marks and records, com­ing af­ter eight years of di­vi­sive pres­i­den­tial “lead­er­ship,” has made things even worse.

And while much at­ten­tion is nat­u­rally fo­cused this week on who won and lost, a far more sig­nif­i­cant re­sult for the na­tion also needs res­o­lu­tion: What are the con­se­quences, if any, for these re­cent years chock- full of so much mis­be­hav­ior, both pub­lic and pri­vate?

We are, of course, talk­ing mostly about the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and Clin­ton crowd. Let’s look at a few ex­am­ples:

Re­mem­ber Fast and Fu­ri­ous, the cocka­mamie fed­eral gun-run­ning scheme that ended up arm­ing Mex­i­can drug car­tels? A Bor­der Patrol agent died. But then At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder stonewalled Congress. He’s now back mak­ing big bucks at a law firm. No con­se­quences.

Solyn­dra, the so­lar panel com­pany con­trolled by an Obama cam­paign bundler, got a half- bil­lion in guar­an­teed loans. It went un­der with $ 545 mil­lion of tax­payer money. Poof. No con­se­quences.

The IRS rou­tinely ha­rassed and stalled con­ser­va­tive groups seek­ing le­git­i­mate tax- ex­empt sta­tus before and dur­ing the 2012 elec­tion cam­paign. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama pro­fessed ou­trage. The FBI said it could find noth­ing to pros­e­cute. No con­se­quences.

The De­part­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs fal­si­fied records to hide out­ra­geous ser­vice de­lays for vets, some of whom died while await­ing treat­ment. A few of­fi­cials were shuf­fled. Congress threw $ 1 bil­lion more at the agency. No con­se­quences.

In Libya, Am­bas­sador Chris Stevens pleaded of­ten with Sec­re­tary of State Clin­ton for ad­di­tional se­cu­rity. Not only was it de­nied, the ex­ist­ing se­cu­rity de­tail was pulled. On Sept. 11, 2012, a wellarmed mob killed Stevens and three other Amer­i­cans. No res­cue plans were ready. None ini­ti­ated.

Obama was AWOL that night. Clin­ton de­vised an anti- Mus­limvideo cover story.

A stan­dard re­view board of Wash­ing­ton cronies, us­ing doc­u­ments pro­vided by Clin­ton’s staff and no in­ter­view of Clin­ton, could find no one to blame. Four be­tray­als. Four deaths. No con­se­quences.

WASH­ING­TON

Two State em­ploy­ees, how­ever, were dis­ci­plined for co­op­er­at­ing with con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Then came Gen. David Pe­traeus, the lauded se­nior com­man­der in Afghanistan and Iraq and CIA direc­tor. He shared clas­si­fied ma­te­rial with his bi­og­ra­pher, who had se­cu­rity clear­ance. He was con­victed of mis­han­dling na­tional se­cu­rity info, got a $100,000 fine plus two years’ pro­ba­tion.

You may have heard some­thing about Clin­ton’s pri­vate un­se­cured email server these last 20 months. Virtually ev­ery claim of in­no­cent in­ten­tion she made at the scan­dal’s start has proved false.

The FBI was in­ves­ti­gat­ing the server — un­til the lat­est an­nounce­ment Sun­day that it’s not — and pos­si­ble con­flict of in­ter­est with the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, which raked in mil­lions from for­eign sources dur­ing her State De­part­ment ten­ure, con­trary to prom­ises. And Bill Clin­ton’s speak­ing fees co­in­ci­den­tally soared. So far, no con­se­quences.

Obama claims no knowl­edge of the unau­tho­rized server. But we now know he ex­changed nu­mer­ous clas­si­fied emails with Clin­ton there, us­ing an alias. A McClatchyMarist Poll finds a ma­jor­ity be­lieve she did some­thing il­le­gal.

Trust within democ­racy is very frag­ile. Ours is sup­posed to be a so­ci­ety of laws ap­plied rea­son­ably, eq­ui­tably. Hence, the blind­fold on Lady Jus­tice with the scales.

Polls find that start­ing with the 2008 re­ces­sion, Amer­i­cans’ trust in most of their most im­por­tant in­sti­tu­tions has fallen to his­toric lows. Gallup found trust in 14 key in­sti­tu­tions av­er­ages only 32 per­cent now, down from the mid-40s ear­lier this cen­tury.

Trust in news media, Congress, banks and or­ga­nized re­li­gion tum­bled the most. Even trust in the Supreme Court, pub­lic schools, po­lice and crim­i­nal jus­tice slid. The all-vol­un­teer mil­i­tary stayed steady at the high­est trust rat­ing, at 73 per­cent.

Barely half of his coun­try­men ap­prove of Obama’s job and nearly 2 of 3 say the coun­try is on the wrong track. Dis­sat­is­fac­tion with “the way things are go­ing” stood at 70 per­cent last month.

All this, sadly, pre­pares the na­tional soil for en­dur­ing sus­pi­cions and dis­trust that con­tinue to cor­rode the na­tional spirit, even if these elec­tions aren’t rigged.

An­drew Mal­colm is an au­thor and vet­eran na­tional and for­eign cor­re­spon­dent cov­er­ing pol­i­tics since the 1960s. Fol­low him @AHMal­colm.

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