As Time Slowly Stretches Into Election Day

The craziest election year of our long recollection got even crazier over the weekend, as Friday’s announcement by the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that their interest in Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s scandal-plagued e-mail is once again piqued by some newly-discovered evidence spilled over into the ensuing two days of otherwise slow news cycle.
All the polls were already showing that Clinton’s once formidable lead had tightened enough to clearly worry the more partisan Democratic press, so the FBI’s announcement set off something of a panic among the more polite publications. The news was impossible to ignore, or even keep off the very front page, and quite difficult to spin. There was no avoiding the words “e-mail” or “FBI investigation” in the early paragraphs, and of course the words “Anthony Weiner” were also bound to come up at some point in the story, and by now anyone who’s been following the improbable plot twists of this crazy election years knows that all of that amounts to bad news for the Democrats that can only remind voters of all the rest of the past 30 years of bad news. The Democratic nominee and her more stalwart defenders in the press could raise legitimate questions about the vagueness of that FBI director’s announcement, and why it comes at such a crucial point in such a crazy election year, but none of those questions would have ever come up if Clinton had only followed the sensible laws regarding a Secretary of State’s e-mail communications, and there’s no getting around the questions of judgment that raises, nor avoiding the questions of character that might explain her motives, so even those stalwart defenders of the Democratic nominee among the more polite press sounded slightly panicked.
As recently as the day before last Friday in this crazy election year they all seemed pretty cocky, with the previous news cycles being mostly about Republican nominee Donald Trump and all his accumulated scandals and hard-to-spin awfulness, and all the polls showing that aforementioned comfortable lead for Clinton. The words “grab ’em by the p***y” are also hard to keep out out of the news when uttered by a major party nominee, and the more impolite pro-Trump sort of press had their work cut out for them in trying to defend his attacks on the inevitable numerous women who came forward to say that he’d done pretty much what he bragged about, and when you throw in the rest of his attacks on prisoners of war and Gold Star families and his evictions of widows and three marriages and the four casino-and-strip-club bankruptcies and frequent heresies from both Christianity and Republicanism and geo-political and economic common sense along with the hard-to-miss buffoonery and boorishness and ignorance and almost daily weirdness that had made him the most unfavorably-regarded major nominee ever, so it was hard to dispute the left’s cockiness of just the day before last Friday.
But that was a long time ago, as we measure time in such a crazy election year as this, before the latest reminder that Democrat is arguably criminal and undeniably corrupt, and with eight seemingly eternal days left before the last votes are counted we remain as uncertain as ever as to how this will all turn out. Clinton still looks fairly safe on that stubbornly resistant-to-the-latest-nws electoral map, Trump clearly has the come-from-behind national momentum to provoke all that panic in the press, both candidates still have the most unfavorable ratings in the history of American political polling, and with eight excruciatingly long days left in this crazy election year there’s something bound to come out that would make such average voters as ourselves loathe them both even more. Clinton and her defenders might yet spin this into a favorable story, the same FBI director who until last Friday had been regaled by Trump’s defenders as a conspirator in a rigged system might prove it with yet another improbable plot twist, and the possibility of Trump providing yet another unfavorable news cycle does not seem at all remote.
At this point we’ll just wait and see which of these two awful people the rest of the country considers the less awful, and in any case we’ll wonder what the hell about this crazy election year in rueful retrospect.

— Bud Norman

The Latest Twist in the Weiner Saga

Soap operas rarely have any appeal for us, but somehow we just can’t turn away from the tawdry tale of Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin. In the latest installment of their long-running saga the tabloid-worthy political power couple are once again splitsville, and fans are once again left wondering if this might be the series finale.
If you’ve been too enrapt by the Kardashians or the Real Housewives of somewhere or another to have been paying attention, Abedin is a longtime aide and confidant to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Weiner is a former Democratic New York congressman and mayoral candidate, and ever since their fateful meeting at a Democratic National Committee retreat on Martha’s Vineyard back in in ’01 they’ve been a well-publicized Democratic item. She’s Muslim and he’s Jewish, both have a certain exotic if slightly equine photogenic look about them, and given such hackneyed Hollywood plot twists of course the press couldn’t resist covering their courtship. By ’08 even such an elegant print publication as Vogue Magazine was quoting Abedin gushing that “He was smart, he was passionate. When he wanted to do something that he thought was the right thing to do, he would not give up. The kind of dedication and passion he had for helping people, I found very attractive and inspiring.” With slightly less fanfare than Tiny Tim got when he married Miss Vickie on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” the couple married in ’10, with former President and noted philanderer Bill Clinton officiating, and its been a most fascinating downward spiral for them ever since.
When Clinton became Secretary of State even the more polite press started to notice that her longtime aide and confidant was not only a Muslim but the daughter of a mother and father who were both alarmingly high-ranking members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the radical Islamist group that pretty much started the whole modern radical Islamist thing in Egypt way back in the 1920s, and when the administration of President Barack Obama started inviting Muslim Brotherhood members to the front rows of his famous Cairo speech and later siding with the Muslim Brotherhood’s coup of a flawed but American-friendly regime in Egypt during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State the more impolite conservative press began to question her influence. Such rude sorts as ourselves went so far to liken her to the latest iteration of Alger Hiss, the commie who had high State Department security clearances during the Roosevelt administration, and to even make comic allusions to the persistent lesbian rumors. Her name kept popping up as a questioned witness during all the other unavoidable scandals that have attended Clinton’s political career, and the latest reports are that her Muslim Brotherhood mother authored some articles about women’s right that are not likely to pass muster with modern western feminism.
Meanwhile, Weiner was earning his own weird celebrity. As a Democratic congressman he had found a die-hard following of Democratic fans who loved his name-calling and schoolyard-taunting and “at least he fights” style of rhetoric against those darned Republicans, but at some point in ’11 even the most polite press were forced report that at the same time he’d also been “sexting” pictures of his underwear-clad private parts to various women who were unfortunately willing to go on the record about it. We suspect that Weiner’s impeccable Democratic credentials would have spared him ridicule on the late night comedy shows in most circumstances, but the guy’s name is “Weiner,” for crying out loud, and “sexting” was a hot topic, so even Weiner’s best friends on the late night comedy shows couldn’t resist making sport of him. It was enough to force his resignation from congress, which he announced with Abedin conspicuously not by his side, and to keep the melodrama going.
The pregnant Abedin continued her relationships with both Clinton and Weiner, and all the parties seem to heave weathered the scandal with reputations intact by modern standards, and in ’13 Weiner even announced his bid to become mayor of New York City. Fueled by his name-calling and schoolyard-taunting and “at least he fights” rhetoric against those darned Republicans, who are hardly a problem to anybody in New York City, he was rapidly gaining ground until the press was obliged to report that was still succumbing to the strange temptation to “sext” portraits of his underwear-clad private parts to various women who would go on the record about, which ended his mayoral campaign but not the strange saga of Weiner and Abedin.

Reportedly in the last few days there have been more “sexted” cell phone portraits of the inconveniently-named Weiner, and with the couple’s toddler son nearby, and this time around Abedin is apparently finally throwing in the towel. At this point we can hardly blame her, especially given her rather rigidly old-fashioned upbringing, and even the thrice-married-to-a-nude-model Reublican nominee was saying that “she will be far better off without him.” So it seems to have come along in recent years, but so it goes in this reality age, when everyone has a sex scandal and the Muslim Brotherhood’s second generation influence on a major party nominee hardly rates a mention.

–Bud Norman

Huma Nature

Of all the weird things about Anthony Weiner’s scandal-plagued run for mayor of New York City, and there are many of them, perhaps the weirdest is the adulation that has been heaped upon his wife.
Some sympathy for a wronged woman is understandable, even if such chivalry is in short supply when conservative women are being slandered by political opponents and foul-mouthed comedians, and any man with a cheating spouse will be ridiculed as a cuckold, but the kind words for Huma Abedin have gone far beyond supportive. Mika Brzezinski at MSBNC tweeted a paean to Abedin’s bravery, Slate magazine wrote of her dignity, and countless commentators tried to outdo one another in praising the extraordinary intelligence of a woman who married a high-tech flasher and national punch line. Perhaps the most worshipful Abedin coverage of all came from New York magazine, where Mark Jacobson wrote that “It was quite possible that she was the most cosmopolitan human being on Earth” and gushed that “Her brown eyes were pools of empathy evolved through a thousand generations of what was good and decent in the history of the human race.”
Aside from the obviously overblown writing, the likes of which has not been since Barack Obama’s first campaign for the presidency, this hyperbole requires a willful ignorance of some basic facts. One need go only one generation in Abedin’s lineage to find some far less than good and decent. Abedin’s father was a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization whose motto declares that “jihad is our way, dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope,” and was a longtime editor of its al Qaeda-financed Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. Abedin’s mother was also a prominent figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, a remarkable feat given the organizations medieval misogyny, and assumed control of the JMMA after her husband death’s as well as running an organization called the International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child which was tied to a designated terrorist group calling itself Union for Good.
Lest one think that we are visiting the sins of the father upon the daughter, to paraphrase another religion, Huma Abedin was an executive editor of the JMMA at the same she served as an intern in the Clinton White House — insert your own intern in the Clinton White House joke here — and was an executive board member of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Muslim Students Association while a student at George Washington University.
This resume didn’t keep Abedin from obtaining the necessary security to become an assistant to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with whom she had a famously close relationship, and although it might be entirely coincidental the State Department became ever more accomodationist with the Muslim Brotherhood. The same president that has lately banned College Republicans from his speeches insisted that the Brotherhood be present for his much-hyped oration in Cairo, the organization was effectively ushered into power briefly after Obama insisted that the generally pro-American former dictator Hosni Mubarak resign from office, and Clinton personally intervened to reverse a Bush-era rule prohibiting the Muslim Brotherhood founder’s grandson from entering the country, among other Brotherhood-friendly moves by the administration.
All of which is considered impolite to mention by the pundits who are going on at such length about Abedin’s beauty, bravery, brains, and all-around awesomeness. Aside from the assumed Islamophobia of such quibbles, there’s also Abedin’s famously close relationship with Clinton to consider, after all. Still, we thought it worth mentioning.

— Bud Norman

You May Already Be a Weiner

There are more important things going on in the world, especially if you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere other than New York City, but there’s simply no resisting the temptation to write about a sex scandal involving someone named Anthony Weiner. All the good double entendres have been used by this point, but Weiner is such an absurd fellow that that we feel obliged to add a few more snickers to the ridicule that is once again being heaped on him.
As even the most determinedly apolitical people already know, Weiner is the former New York congressman who was forced to resign from office after it was revealed that he had been sending lewd photographs of underwear-clad nether regions to various young women. Modern American society being what it is Weiner was widely forgiven and quickly forgotten after offering a profuse public apology and a promise to refrain from such behavior in the future, and modern New York City society being what it is Weiner decided to run for mayor. So forgiving and forgetful is the city that Weiner was actually leading in all the polls on Tuesday, but the Big Apple’s patience might finally be running after revelations of even more lewd photos and salacious messages sent long after Weiner’s public apologies and promises.
Weiner was joined at a hastily arranged press conference by his semi-famous-in-her-own-right wife, a former aide to Hillary Clinton whose patience for male misbehavior is apparently as boundless as her past employer’s, but his renewed apologies and promises ran into predictable difficulties. The brilliant Mark Steyn dropped in on the conference, and quotes Weiner saying “This was something in front of us that we knew might come up” and “I’m not going to get into a back and forth,” both of which surely had the assembled press corps chuckling even more than they do at the mention of Weiner’s name. A New York politician can apparently be seen as a pervert without suffering any political harm, but even in the big city it is hard to overcome being seen as ridiculous.
There aren’t many old-fashioned prudes left in New York City, but there are plenty of newfangled ones who object to Weiner’s behavior on feminist and other fashionable grounds. The New York Times quotes the local chapter of the National Organization for Women, which seems to still exist there, as declaring that Weiner is “clearly and compellingly unfit for office.” Even by the degraded standards of our national politics taking pictures of one’s private parts and sharing them with strangers is odd behavior, and even the most dedicated Democrats who are inclined to overlook it will be reluctant to give up the right to look down on the next Republican caught up in some more understandable sex scandal. Moral and political considerations aside, there’s also something unsettlingly narcissistic about Weiner’s hobby that suggests he’d be a troublesome mayor.
The current mayor has established a precedent that the office carries the power to dictate all sorts of the citizenry’s behavior, from how much salt a diner can put on his French fries to the size of his soda pop, so surely the citizenry can expect better behavior of a mayor. There are many reasons that Weiner shouldn’t hold a position of public responsibility, most having to do with his bossy brand of liberalism, but his strange hobby should be enough to convince even a New Yorker.

— Bud Norman