The Comey Effect.

Did F.B.I. Director James Comey’s public statements about the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail cost Clinton the election?

On 19 October 2017, Hillary Clinton debated Donald Trump for the final time.  In the immediate aftermath of the debate, polls showed Clinton with as much as a 12 point lead over Trump.  However, by the morning of 28 October 2016, before Comey’s surprise announcement about re-opening the investigation in light of newly-discovered e-mails, national polls showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by only 6 percent.

Then came Comey’s statement of 28 October 2016.  Polls showed a sharp drop in support for Clinton.  However, some confusion arose and persists.  The results of a number of polls taken before the Comey announcement of 28 October 2016 were not published until after the announcement.  These showed an even sharper drop in support for Clinton than more widely noticed polls revealed.  “In retrospect, there is virtually no evidence to support the view that Mrs. Clinton really had a six-point lead by Oct. 28,…”  Because the findings of the polls were published after the announcement, commentators lumped these results with other polls conducted after Comey made his announcement.[1]  This made it appear that Comey’s announcement had a greater effect on Clinton’s mushy support than was the case.

Obviously this analysis targets only Comey’s second intervention in the election.  The first came with his public announcement that no criminal charges would be pursued against Mrs. Clinton over her use of a private e-mail server.  He went on to excoriate her careless handling of security issues.  Doubtless this incident did Clinton far more harm than did the October announcement.[2]   However, one early account of the Clinton campaign by friendly observers indicts the campaign from first to last as fatally flawed by incompetence and arrogance.[3]  This carnival created the situation in which Comey’s  statements could have such effect.

In any event, James Comey now has time to work on his memoirs.

[1] Nate Cohn, “An Election Review: There’s Reason to Be Skeptical of a Comey Effect,” NYT, 9 May 2017.

[2] On all this, see: https://waroftheworldblog.com/2016/12/13/the-hacked-election/ and https://waroftheworldblog.com/2017/03/31/the-james-comey-show/.

[3] See Michiko Kakutani, “Charting Hillary Clinton’s Course for the Iceberg,” NYT, 18 April 2017; and Barton Swaim, “Hillary the Unready,” WSJ, 18 April 2017.

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Memoirs of the Addams Administration 6.

Any way you look at it, President Donald Trump has had a bad couple of weeks.  Democrats glory in every one of his spectacular mis-steps, while mainstream Republicans insist that he has to be just like them to survive.[1]

After President Donald Trump dropped the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) from the National Security Council, America’s intelligence agencies leaked information that compromised the National Security Adviser (NSA), Lt. General (ret.) Michael Flynn.[2]  Apparently, the leaks included actual transcripts of the conversations between Flynn and Soviet–sorry, Russian–ambassador Sergey Kishlyak.[3]  Flynn resigned as NSA.  On the other hand, Steven Mnuchin was confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury.[4]  The Trump administration now has in place the secretaries of Treasury, State, Defense, and Education

Trump is already at the head of the enemies list of a diverse group.  The New York Times, which had criticized the EffaBeeEye for releasing news of a new investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail messages shortly before the election, reported that the national police force had launched an investigation of connections between the Trump campaign and Russian organs of the state.  Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), who has been attacked by Trump on many occasions, said that “It’s a dysfunctional White House.”  Fred Kaplan (D-Slate.com) said that the scandal “could conceivably oust Donald Trump from power” if further revelations show that he is “secretly beholden to a foreign power.”

All the same, if you leave aside the whole are-we-sliding-toward-a bureaucratic/military-coup issue, the pressing issue of the moment is what course President Trump will adopt on the dollar.[5]  A strong dollar allows American consumer to buy lots of stuff on the cheap.  A strong dollar also makes American products more expensive on foreign markets.     Trump’s “America First:” bumper-sticker doesn’t provide any guidance on the correct policy to follow here.  Consumer America loves a strong dollar; Producer America hates a strong dollar.  “Which will you have?”[6]  It isn’t clear which America is “Consumer America” and which is “Producer America.”  The revolt by tech workers against the “Not-A-Muslim-Ban” suggests that much of the economy of the future is against Trump, while much of the economy of the past is for him.  Of course, the mechanization of manufacturing that has destroyed so many jobs means that manufacturing still needs export opportunities.

The mainstream Democrats found themselves confronted by their own “Tea Party,” in the guise of the “Resistance” movement.[7]  Odds are that this is an authentic revolt by the Democratic equivalents of the Republican idiots of 2009.  Maybe its get-out-the-vote ardor will just help Democrats regain some seats in 2018.  However, the enthusiasm and support for the “Resistance” shown by mainstream Democrats will come back to haunt them if zealots gain the upper hand in party policy-setting.  The question is whether the white working-class voters who abandoned Hillary Clinton in November 2016 can be won back by an emphasis on racism, LGBT issues, and abortion.  (Well, that one answers itself.)

[1] “Trump: Can he regain control of his presidency?” The Week, 24 February 2017, p. 6.

[2] “Flynn resigns amid growing Russia scandal,” The Week, 24 February 2017, p. 4.

[3] JMO, but if this happened in a Third World country, the New York Times would be all over the story of a looming coup.

[4] “Washington: Mnuchin takes top Treasury job,” The Week, 24 February 2017, p. 32.

[5] “Issue of the week: President Trump’s dollar dilemma,” The Week, 24 February 2017, p. 34.

[6] See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtTBykcnjX4

[7] “’The Resistance’: A liberal Tea Party?’ The Week, 24 February 2017, p. 17.