A Confederacy of Dunces

In the final weeks of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, as our modern-day Madame Defarge’s poll numbers declined slowly but steadily in rhythm to the drip-drip-drip of purloined emails by WikiLeaks, the Clinton campaign settled on a strategy and clung to it for dear life.  No one from the campaign would confirm or deny the authenticity of any of the emails, even though the refusal to deny was, of course, an implicit confirmation.  Instead, from the top of the ticket on down, every question about the latest embarrassing revelation from the treasure trove of John Podesta’s electronic musings was met with a deflection: We do not comment on “hacks” (another implicit confirmation); ask Donald Trump, instead, to call off Vladimir Putin (the hat trick of confirmations, even though the evidence that Russia, as opposed to individual Russians, had anything to do with the theft of the emails, much less with their release, was circumstantial at best).

Then, 11 days before the election, Podesta’s golden nuggets were pulled out of the fire—by, of all people, Anthony Weiner, whose pathological need to bless women with pictures of Li’l Anthony finally sank him for good, when the latest “woman” turned out to be a 15-year-old girl.  What was tawdry and banal before had turned into a potential federal crime, and the FBI seized every electronic device that might possibly have transmitted...

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