Per­vert­ing the pres­i­dency

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker Colum­nist Kath­leen Parker is syn­di­cated by The Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group.

The last place — and I do mean the very last place — any can­di­date wants to be is in the frame with An­thony Weiner.

This is es­pe­cially true if you’re Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Even worse than be­ing as­so­ci­ated with the in­fa­mous sex­ter this week is be­ing FBI Direc­tor James Comey, the least-en­vied man in Amer­ica.

Not long ago, Comey was beloved by Democrats and re­viled by Repub­li­cans for his de­ci­sion not to rec­om­mend charges against Clin­ton, de­spite her ex­treme care­less­ness with a few clas­si­fied doc­u­ments through the use of her pri­vate email server. To­day, he is vil­i­fied by Democrats and cel­e­brated by Repub­li­cans for his dis­clo­sure to Congress that new emails pos­si­bly rel­e­vant to the agency’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion have been found, of all places, on Weiner’s lap­top.

Pol­i­tics, in other words, con­tin­ues to hap­pen.

Step­ping back for the Repub­li­can long view, this isn’t just a case of a wife, Clin­ton aide Huma Abe­din, pos­si­bly using her hus­band’s lap­top to send emails to her boss. This is a case of po­ten­tially clas­si­fied doc­u­ments per­tain­ing to the sec­re­tary of state’s busi­ness be­ing found on the per­sonal com­puter of an in­di­vid­ual whose men­tal state is ques­tion­able. Even lit­tle-known Repub­li­can Vladimir Putin must be reach­ing for the Purell.

Oh, for the days of ama­teur bur­glars and pro­fan­ity in the Oval.

No one seems to know what’s in the emails, but this is be­side the point to Repub­li­can minds. Per­haps more trou­bling still is the fact that FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tors ap­par­ently have known about these emails for sev­eral weeks, but didn’t give Comey a full brief­ing un­til last week.

De­spite be­ing an inch away from Elec­tion Day, Comey de­cided to tell Congress about the “new” emails, prob­a­bly in the in­ter­est of self-preser­va­tion. If he had waited un­til af­ter the elec­tion, and the emails con­tained in­for­ma­tion that might have helped put Trump in the White House, then Repub­li­cans likely would have dropped a dead chicken on Comey’s porch.

Yet, with­out know­ing what’s in the emails, Comey has cre­ated enough sus­pi­cion to po­ten­tially hurt Clin­ton’s chances. Com­pli­cat­ing mat­ters, Comey al­legedly ex­pressed con­cern about fin­ger­ing Rus­sia for try­ing to in­flu­ence Amer­i­can pol­i­tics be­cause of the elec­tion. But he showed no such con­cern about the lat­est emails so close to Elec­tion Day. Dou­ble stan­dard? Poor judg­ment?

Or, is it can’t win for los­ing? Un­like the orang­utan swing­ing from the chan­de­lier and singing, “Win­ning, win­ning, win­ning!” Don­ald Trump is the hap­pi­est (al­leged) crotch-grab­ber on the con­ti­nent. De­pend­ing on the poll, he’s ei­ther ahead by a point, tied, con­sis­tently below Clin­ton or, if you av­er­age them all to­gether, a mere four points be­hind the pantsuited lady in red.

Here he was only a few days shy of call­ing the elec­tion rigged and, voila (or how­ever you say it in Rus­sian), here comes an­other batch of email — and ypa! —on Weiner’s lap­top to boot. Fur­ther grat­i­fy­ing was that Trump long ago aired con­cerns about Abe­din shar­ing state se­crets with her hus­band.

Whether the contents of those emails are of any im­por­tance re­mains to be seen, though ap­par­ently not un­til af­ter the elec­tion. And, lest Trump­sters spit their to­bacco on my cute shoes, let the record show that Trump only said his celebrity en­ti­tled him to seize women’s nethers, but he ob­vi­ously thought it was a fine thing to say.

Also, one can­not fail to note that in the minds of many mil­lions, there are worse things.

One worse thing is the very idea of Weiner pe­rus­ing his wife’s and Clin­ton’s cor­re­spon­dence, imag­in­ably dur­ing a break from mak­ing a Snapchat of his own nethers.

Sub­stan­tively, it may mean noth­ing, but Weiner of­fends dis­eases. Adul­tery is one thing. Hav­ing il­licit thoughts, as Jimmy Carter once con­fessed to Play­boy mag­a­zine, is al­most adorable. But ex­pos­ing your­self to women in the ju­ve­nile pur­suit of vir­tual tit­il­la­tion crosses a line.

The sub­lim­i­nal ef­fect of a Clin­ton-Weiner con­nec­tion falls into the cat­e­gory of worst-case sce­nar­ios, not least be­cause it trig­gers mem­o­ries that lead in­evitably to her own “con­noi­terer-in chief.” And to think, all Hil­lary ever wanted was to save women and chil­dren from men such as these.

Iron­i­cally, the man she re­placed in the Se­nate, Daniel Pa­trick Moyni­han, was fore­shad­ow­ing to­day’s rock bot­tom when he ob­served that Amer­ica was defin­ing de­viancy down. Though it would be un­fair to lump Hil­lary Clin­ton with the rest of this bunch, it has never been truer that you are judged by the com­pany you keep.

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