Matthew Yglesias' letter to future historians sounds an ambivalent note about our current situation. "I hope it will all turn out for the best," he writes, "But I fear that it will not:"
The election of a man temperamentally unfit to the presidency and lacking in the basic qualifications to perform the job, backed up by congressional allies who seem determined to ignore his flagrant corruption, is an alarming situation. The odds that he will systematically corrupt American institutions and install an authoritarian kleptocracy or blunder into some kind of catastrophic war seem simply too high to entirely discount.
"No matter how stupid it sounds," he points out, "the dominant issue of the 2016 campaign was email server management." He then reminds us that "Email fever reached its peak on two separate major occasions:"
One was when Comey closed the investigation. Instead of simply saying "we looked into it and there was no crime," Comey sought to immunize himself from Clinton critics by breaking with standard procedure to offer extended negative commentary on Clinton's behavior. He said she was "extremely careless."
Comey then brought the email story back to the center of the campaign in late October by writing a letter to Congress indicating that the email case had been reopened due to new discoveries on Anthony Weiner's laptop. It turned out that the new discoveries were an awfully flimsy basis for a subpoena, and the subpoena turned up nothing.
His details are damning:
• The New York Times dedicated 100 percent of its above-the-fold space to coverage of Comey's letter to Congress.
• Throughout the campaign season, network newscasts dedicated more time to Clinton's email server stories than to stories about all policy issues combined.
• Donald Trump's campaign rallies featured regular "lock her up" chants, centering the email server as the opposition's main criticism of Clinton.
• Across five television networks and six major newspapers, 11 percent of campaign coverage was stories about Clinton's email server.
"Indeed," he continues, "research from Gallup indicates that emails dominated what voters heard about Clinton all throughout the campaign," as these wordclouds demonstrate:
Even at the time, some of us found it hardly credible that a decision as weighty as who should be president was being decided on the basis of something as trivial as which email address the secretary of state used. Future generations must find it even harder to believe.
Digby makes a great point--that "It's actually a testament to her rectitude that a vague scandal called 'emails!' was all they came up with:"
They had certainly tried over the course of 25 years to come up with something real and they ended up having to make up this ridiculous fake scandal to justify their Javert-like obsession. Unfortunately, it worked as perfectly as any Clinton-scandal ever worked. It was a complicated story that added up to nothing but fit the "didn't pass the smell test" narrative for the media so they pimped it and pimped it and pimped it like it was Watergate.
Speaking of not passing a smell test:
Now we have Trump, the horror story some of us were screaming about until we were hoarse for the last 18 months, knowing that he could and might very well win unless the media, the Republican establishment and some very silly voters sobered up. They didn't. And now we all have to deal with the hangover.