The Sunday morning shows are always good for a few laughs even during a depressing election news cycle and today was no exception. On ABC’s This Week, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta had some advice for both the Trump campaign and America’s voters when it comes to questions of Hillary Clinton’s secret bathroom email server and the various revelations which have come in the wake of the FBI investigation. Nothing to see here, so can’t we all just move on? He starts out by commenting on the recent news that billionaires were making donations to the Clinton Foundation and then asking top Clinton aides for favors. Panetta describes this as people “just trying to make connections.” I’m not sure why I didn’t see that originally… it’s kind of like Tinder for rich politicos.
The “move on” portion comes roughly two minutes into the video, after which Panetta is careful to point out that, much like the case of trading favors, nobody has actually been able to prove anything, and the FBI found no cause for action. So we’re all good, right?
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“It’s been investigated, no action has been taken by the Justice Department,” Panetta said on ABC’s “This Week.” “They found no basis for any kind of action.”
“I really do think it’s time for the candidates and for the American people to move on and talk about the real issues,” he said.
“This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz asked Panetta about allegations that the State Department under Clinton improperly gave favors to Clinton Foundation donors and if he agrees with the campaign’s implication over the past week that allegations surrounding the foundation are part of a “conspiracy” against the Democratic nominee.
Panetta said that as far as he knows no one has been to pin down that State Department aides did anything for foundation donors. As to the campaign’s claims of a conspiracy, Panetta said it’s just “politics.”
When a Secretary of Defense weighs in on a campaign issue it generally might be worth listening, but in this case we still need to consider the source. Panetta isn’t just an old friend of the Clinton family and an appointee of the Obama administration. He used to serve as Bill’s Chief of Staff. He’s about as tight inside the Clinton machine as a person could conceivably be. He also endorsed Hillary Clinton for President back in January, so he’s not exactly coming to the table as an unbiased observer.
But even if he weren’t so tied up in the affairs of Clinton Incorporated, his comments this morning reflect a particularly sad state of affairs for politics today. The pay for play going on with the Clinton Foundation is, by this point, too obvious to ignore. Add to that the established fact that Hillary Clinton lied to the nation when she said she had turned over all of her relevant emails before wiping her server. These facts alone should go well beyond the point of disqualifying someone for office, but as Panetta described it during the interview, it’s just politics.
Perhaps it is. In 21st century America, that sort of thing may have actually become “just politics.” Our expectations are so low and our partisan allegiances so strong that perhaps nothing is a disqualifier anymore. With each day that goes by in this election, H.L. Mencken is proven more and more astute. Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.