Sunday, October 30, 2016
Enter Anthony Weiner, with a seltzer bottle
Nine days to the election. One week from Tuesday. Two hundred hours and change.
You'd think we'd be home free.
Yet we're not. The thing keeps getting weirder.
As with any good horror movie, just when the monster has been blown up and shot and stabbed and the building has collapsed atop him, just when the heroes are finally exhaling and ruffling each other's hair and clapping one another on the shoulder and making their movie's-over jokes, suddenly the yammering yam comes bursting out of the rubble, inexplicably alive.
So Donald Trump, whose campaign chances were dead and shriven and buried, comes rearing out of the grave, a la "Carrie," with news that the FBI director James Comey sent an inexplicable letter to Congress saying, in essence, we've got some emails that may involve Hillary Clinton on Anthony Weiner's computer.
The thing was almost instantly debunked, but it doesn't matter. I hesitate to declare that facts have mattered less in this election than any in our history — there have been some doozies— so I will just say, "Why should the truth start mattering now?" Just the word "emails," like the word "Benghazi," is enough to erode Clinton's narrow lead.
Anthony Weiner. The former Congressman whose career was destroyed, not once but twice, by naughty cell phone photos he felt compelled to send to strangers. First as Congressman, then as mayoral candidate. He happened to be married -- in one of those coincidences that would look trite in fiction -- to one of Clinton's top aides, Huma Abedin.
That the emails don't seem to reveal anything or even necessarily involve Clinton is just the icing on the cake of horror. Of course. When one of the major candidates lives in a fact-free echo chamber —"This changes everything!" Trump exulted—it makes sense that this non-story would rock the campaign.
Actually, it doesn't change anything. Clinton has been thoroughly demonized for offenses, —the tragedy in Libya to her high-paid speeches to the endless server scandal — that wink out into insignificance when held up against the bone-deep bigotry, ignorance and anti-Americanism of Donald Trump and everything he unambiguously and proudly represents.
I was tempted to conclude that, in generations to come, saner heads will recall the 2016 election with wonder, as the nadir, the hard bottom we bounced up from. Pretty to think so. Because that doesn't sound right. My gut tells me that this is just the opening bell of our dystopian future, with charismatic non-politicians whipping up grass roots mobs, tweet wars and battling TV comedians giving us our news. As terrible as the election of 2016 is, it is only the beginning. Hillary might win — I hold out hope she will win, unless of course she loses. But somewhere, a better, more palatable version of Donald Trump — Donald 2.0 — is being assembled. Some Marco Rubio-calibre fraud is staring hard at himself in the mirror, liking what he sees, and cooing, "Next year, it's your turn baby!" The rough beast awakes and, in anticipation of its hour come round at last, slouches toward Washington to be born.