The uninformed public speculation that might tilt this election

Donald Trump’s election campaign has been fueled, more than anything else, by prejudice — the willingness of his supporters to reach conclusions unsupported by evidence.

Yesterday, in New Mexico, Trump claimed that if Hillary Clinton becomes president the population of the United States could triple in size in one week and grow from 325 million to 975 million!

“Think of it,” Trump said, but as the crowd booed there was little evidence that anyone in front of him was indeed thinking about what he’d just said. Some thought should have produced derisory laughter in response to such an absurd statement.

If 650 million peopled poured across the U.S. borders, this would amount to the largest migration in human history. This would be like every single person in Canada, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America all arriving in the U.S. — in the space of seven days.

Think of it!

Actually, it’s a bit difficult for anyone to think of it unless they are willing to indulge in an idle flight of fantasy.

What Trump was doing yesterday is what he been doing throughout his campaign: attempting to bypass all meaningful processes of thought and connect with the reptilian brain, animated as it is by archaic forces of fear and aggression. When Trump says think, what he’s really saying is be afraid, very afraid.

* * *

The daily drama of politics, in the age of Wikileaks and beyond the long shadow of Watergate, is repeatedly invigorated by the promise of revelations.

Since Watergate involved the mother of all cover-ups, any claim that something has been “discovered” comes charged with the implication that a discovery is the flip-side of a cover-up. What was meant to remain secret has now become known.

But when FBI Director James Comey wrote to Congress to inform them “the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation [of Clinton’s personal email server]” nothing of substance had been uncovered.

At this point, all that is known is that a computer used by former Rep. Anthony Weiner (aka Carlos Danger) contained some emails connected to Clinton aide, Huma Abedin.

It has been reported that there are 650,000 emails, without any specifics about who they were written to and received by or when they were sent. The Wall Street Journal reports, “underlying metadata suggests thousands of those messages could have been sent to or from the private server that Mrs. Clinton used while she was secretary of state, according to people familiar with the matter.” Yet it was not until this weekend that the FBI received a court order allowing them to begin reviewing the emails.

If when Comey wrote to Congress, he and those under him had been complying with the law, at that time no one in the FBI had looked at a single of the thousands of emails in question.

When anonymous sources leaked the seemingly hard fact that there are 650,000 emails involved, they were leaking a hard number that again obscures its lack of substance. We don’t know whether hundreds of thousands or hundreds or just a handful are connected to Abedin.

Comey was like a firefighter who runs into a crowded shopping mall and shouts: “There might be a fire. But don’t panic. There might be some smoke — but it could just be steam.”

In his confession to FBI employees he wrote: “I don’t want to create a misleading impression,” but admitted, “there is significant risk of being misunderstood…” Indeed.

Which is why Comey has now been admonished by former Attorney General Eric H. Holder, along with close to 100 other former Department of Justice officials, who in an open letter conclude:

We believe that adherence to longstanding Justice Department guidelines is the best practice when considering public statements on investigative matters. We do not question Director Comey’s motives. However, the fact remains that the Director’s disclosure has invited considerable, uninformed public speculation about the significance of newly-discovered material just days before a national election. For this reason, we believe the American people deserve all the facts, and fairness dictates releasing information that provides a full and complete picture regarding the material at issue.

Given the fact that in the remaining days before the election it is reasonable to assume that a full and complete picture will not and cannot be presented, it is also reasonable to assume that uninformed public speculation on the issue will continue without interruption.

And that should suit Donald Trump just fine.

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