Voters not too bothered by renewed Clinton email investigation, but why?
By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS
Three new polls show that American voters do not seem to care very much about the FBI Director James B. Comey’s renewed investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s email server, which is troubling. On Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 66 percent of voters say the new probe is not going to change how they vote. Meanwhile, in the first national Politico/Morning Consult poll released after the news from FBI on Monday, Oct. 31, Clinton still maintains her same three-point lead over Republican nominee Donald Trump. Even worse, in the latest the Reuters/Ipsos survey released on Monday, Clinton has 5-point lead over Trump. Although this good news for Clinton it does not say much about the judgment of the American voters where an FBI investigation does not matter when the person in question wants to be president.
With a week left before the election, Clinton still holds on to her lead in the latest national Politico/Morning Consult poll. Clinton has the support of 42 percent of voters to Trump’s 39 percent support in a four-way race. Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson has 7 percent support, while Green Party nominee Jill Stein has 5 percent. Clinton still maintains her lead in a two-way race with 46 percent to Trump’s 43 percent.
The poll also asked voters how they felt about Clinton’s renewed email scandal. Fortunately at least a minority find it troubling, and it will now to affect how the vote on Nov. 8. According to the poll, 33 percent say they are “less likely” to vote for Clinton after the news broke, while 39 percent of Americans say it will not sway their vote. However, 45 percent “agreed with Trump” Clinton’s email scandal is worse than Watergate. The ABC News/Washington Post poll seems to concur; determining that 34 percent of voters are less likely to vote for Clinton after newly discovered emails forced the FBI to renew their investigation into Clinton.
Even more troubling is a third poll released Monday, the Reuters/Ipsos survey gave Clinton a five-point lead. In the survey, Clinton has 44 percent support to Trump’s 39 percent in a two-way race. The polls give Clinton a six percent lead in a four-way race, Clinton has 43 percent support to Trump’s 37 percent, while Johnson has six percent with Stein at just one percent.
On Friday morning, Oct. 28, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congressional Committee leaders informing them of a new development the discovery of news and that the FBI will be reopening their investigation into Clinton’s private server. The FBI discovered 650,000 emails on the computer of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner in their investigation of his sending sexually inappropriate text messages to an underage girl.
Weiner is the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s longtime aide who was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department and is now her deputy campaign chair. Abedin also had an account on Clinton’s server. FBI agents knew of the emails for two weeks before notifying Comey on Thursday, Oct. 27. The bureau was just granted a warrant to search the emails on Sunday, Oct. 30. Comey has faced praised from Trump’s campaign but criticism and attacks from Clinton her campaign and Congressional supporters for the timing of the letter.
Voters’ attitude toward the renewed investigation is surprising. We live in a society that still despite advances for many demographic groups views criminal activity, whether suspected, questionable or convicted with abhorrence. The mantra might be innocent until proven guilty, but in the public opinion, any question, nevermind an arrest is enough to convict in the court of public opinion. In the United States criminals even lose their voting right when convicted.
This same opinion is not just reserved for the average person, or demographic groups that the public feel are more prone to get involved in criminal activity sometimes based just on social circumstance but usually for our politicians. Americans put leaders to a higher standard and claim they want them to have with impeccable morals. Former President Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate cover-up is forever seared as the standard-bearer. Although he worked hard to rehabilitate his image as the elder statesman, he was still considered by many a “crook.” The sex scandals that are discovered are enough to usually get a politician banished for life, never mind any hint or whiff of political corruption.
Republican nominee Donald Trump has felt the burn enough this campaign cycle much to the hypocrisy. His comments calling some Mexicans immigrants criminals calling for a wall on the border with Mexico were derided as racist, but privately many who do not consider themselves racist feel the same, or rationalize it as a class issue rather one of race. The same about Muslim immigrants, many want to consider themselves open-minded, but secretly are afraid maybe some do have terrorist leanings, possibly avoiding interactions with Muslims because of their fears. The same people were outraged at Trump’s position.
Then there was Trump’s 2005 tape bragging about groping women because of celebrity status, and his failed attempt at an affair with a married woman. The tape and the 12 women accusing Trump of sexually inappropriate behavior mostly unwanted kisses and hugs nearly destroyed his campaign. The public was already writing his campaign obituary, and arguing when he refused to say whether he would concede the election. The public and news media were being presumptuous arguing and insulting over a hypothetical situation three weeks before the election when Trump did not lose yet.
The Clintons however, seem to defy every common convention, the logic goes out the door when it comes to former President Bill Clinton and former First Lady, New York Senator, Secretary of State and now Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The Clintons have had had scandal after scandal since they entered the political sphere in the 1970 s and it has exacerbated since their entrance onto the national stage in 1992.
There have been strings of “allegations of legal or ethical wrongdoings” that have plagued the Clintons since Bill’s administration (1993–2000). The most notable being Whitewater, Paula Jones sexual harassment case, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment never mind the countless smaller ones. Through it, all Clinton maintained his high approval ratings, fiercely defended by Democratic colleagues even remaining in office after becoming only the second president ever impeached. Bill Clinton has been the exception rather than rule with politicians involved in sex scandals.
Hillary Clinton has always appeared as a Lady Macbeth, her scandals after her husband’s presidency only confirm that reputation of ruthless ambition above all. Clinton might have called her private email server as Secretary of State a convenient mistake; it was a shrewd way to manipulate her actions and political future but risking national security and giving a disgraced congressman access to it all unintentionally. Equally troubling is the blurring lines between her post at the State Department and her husbands’ Clinton Foundation. The WikiLeaks released emails from her campaign chairman John Podesta, the Democratic National Committee and others in the Clinton circle give an unappealing backstage view at the shrewd Clinton machine; that should not be ignored or dismissed.
One after the other the Clintons blamed someone else, with their favorite being the Republicans, they played the misunderstood victim, the innocents being preyed on, never truly taking responsibility for their actions. The Clintons played the American public, and in turn, they bought continuing their devotion and love affair. It either proves American voters are truly stupid or have stone age brains as historian Richard Shenkman argues, or the Clintons’ are master manipulators whose put on charm is truly inescapable.
Academics and pundits are defending Clinton’s actions, blaming sexism, Republicans or anything else. These academics and pundits would never tolerate Clinton’s behavior in their personal situations if they even suspected someone they knew behaved a similar manner they would throw stones, cut ties and blacklist making sure they are banished forever. Still, they continue to compromise their principals for an op-ed, a quote, radio or TV appearance book sales some professional attention. Too many academics and pundits see the Clintons’ scandals as fueling their careers, and they are milking it if she becomes president staying on the right side will gain them a favor. Keeping up with the popular position whether ethically sound or not shows they are morally not too far from the Clintons themselves.
There is no way to defend a criminal repeat offender, and there is no excuse for the Clintons’ repeated scandals, nothing justifies it after all this time. Former assistant FBI director James Kallstrom has come out to deride the Clintons’ repeated scandals in a recent radio interview calling the Democratic nominee a “pathological liar.” Kallstrom agrees with Comey’s decision to send the letter to Congress notifying them of the renewed investigation, saying, “The Clintons, that’s a crime family, basically. It’s like organized crime.”
It is not hatred, antipathy or anything else, upright and moral Americans, for the most part, want justice, they believe that politicians and leaders should be treated the same way they would in similar situations, the problem is the Clintons always escape that justice and that is the only reason for the animosity. They appear, act and behave like a ruling class when we live in a democracy.
Is it not because Clinton is a woman, her scandals and how far she has come, proves she plays the game better than any man does, and maybe even better than her husband. Clinton’s main advantage is as Trump accuses overusing the woman card, while she and her defenders cry out sexism; they use that as the top excuse to get away with anything. Neither is about her being a Democrat; there are many fine Democrats whose morality is without reproach including our current President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Obama tolerates Clinton for the ambition of securing his legacy, while Biden commended FBI Director Comey and reminded the public he would have won the primary and been the nominee.
The poll results are disheartening it shows American voters particularly Democrats are cutting themselves short and have been doing so since the primaries. They want justice and morality for everyone but their future president if the name is Clinton. So many scandals, an FBI investigation over Clinton’s head, how can even the staunchest Democrat accept that after all, this time it is not a witch-hunt there has to be some truth to the accusations. I had a professor who once claimed in a seminar that it is fine to be a hypocrite as long as one knows they are. He was wrong, it is never right to be a hypocrite, it is wrong if one knows they are, and it only worse when they do not realize it, and that is this election’s greatest problem.
Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert inpresidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.