Chomsky on the Election
Noam Chomsky, the illustrious subject of my book, is surely the best-known personage on what remains of the radical left in the United States. Unsurprisingly, Chomsky supported Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination. Perhaps less predictably, he is equally unequivocal in his stand on the general election: Clinton must win. If, instead, Trump becomes president, “the human species is in very deep trouble.” That may be a characteristically Chomskian overstatement, but as usual with Chomsky’s overstatements, it contains a large element of truth. Disgruntled Bernie supporters and Jill Stein fans: please take heed.
James Comey faced a politically prickly choice with regard to the Abedin/Weiner e-mails. He could have withheld information with potential for influencing the upcoming election. In that case, he would have exposed himself to the inevitable wrath and fury of Congressional and other Republicans once the information was revealed. Or, he could have done what he did, in violation of longstanding guidelines. It undoubtedly occurred to him that the political consequences of the latter course would be minor. A President Clinton would surely leave this incident behind her; firing Comey for his transgression would be unthinkable. Comey chose political expediency over principle.
Actually, the choice he faced wasn’t as clearly binary as I have just suggested. Nuances matter: he could have worded his letter to Congress differently, for example saying that the newly discovered emails “could be” rather than “appear to be” pertinent to the Clinton investigation. He could have said that he had directed staff to assess “the relevance, if any” to the Clinton investigation, instead of assess “the importance” to the investigation. He could have alluded to the strong possibility that many of the “new” e-mails are in fact duplicates of those already examined. He could have stressed that at this point in time there is no reason to believe that the agency’s earlier conclusion might change. As worded, the letter gave the Trump campaign opportunity to try to make something out of nothing. This was a terrible performance by a heretofore highly respected official.