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America Is Headed Into Wickedness

Two stories dot the beginning of the home stretch, marked by the passing of Labor Day, in this presidential race. First, Donald Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, promised to release his tax returns and also promised Trump would release his when the IRS audit is complete. Second, Hillary Clinton’s hole into Wonderland is much deeper than the FBI is willing to admit.

Trump’s tax returns will never be made public.

Last March, as Trump made a swing through Washington, D.C., to show off his under-construction Trump International a few blocks from the White House, he gave an ill-advised speech to AIPAC–the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. As the speech began, a 41-year-old rabbi wearing a tallit (a prayer shawl) stood and shouted “This man is wicked. He inspires racists and bigots. He encourages violence. Do not listen to him.”

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld later told The Washington Post, “With every cell in my body I felt the obligation as a rabbi to declare his wickedness to the world.” An Old Testament prophet could not have given a better word.

Clinton used spy craft to cover her own trail. She switched out cell phones every few days at times. In at least two instances, the old phones were destroyed using a hammer. The technical staff Clinton paid to manage her personal servers used BleachBit–a government-grade data wood chipper–to erase her mail archives just a month after telling the FBI in February 2015 that “he did not recall conducting deletions.”

Jonah Goldberg is fond of quoting Henry David Thoreau, “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.” For literary novices like me, context has to be provided. A “trout in the milk” would seem to indicate that the dairyman might be watering down the milk by dipping his pail in the creek.

Clinton’s got her pail deep in the river, and the trout are just leaping into it. Trump dispenses with a pail and simply drags the river for every bottom-feeding fish and muck raker he hauls in his wake. Neither of them possesses in the least bit the strength of character or moral underpinning required of an American president.

Honestly (and this is something I believed I would never, ever, write) I would prefer Barack Obama to either of them. President Obama walked away from the G20 meeting China having calmly endured the Chinese obsession with positive press, and with a needed gap of trust with Vladimir Putin on Syria.

Nearly eight years in the White House, and no campaign to run may have finally given Obama a modicum of statecraft, and an idea of what America must be as the global leader for the good of humanity. I suppose it’s too little, too late, and possibly it’s simply Obama preening for future historians, but at least it’s not wicked.

Trump, except by some October surprise, deus ex-machina, external world event, or Clinton’s complete mental or physical breakdown, will not win the presidency. The fact that the polls show a narrowing is irrelevant. A consistent gap of 5 points in swing states, without the swing undecided voters to make up that gap, is a bridge too far for Trump.

It’s a good thing for the country to reject Trump, because it shows that at least a plurality of American voters are not chumps (although never underestimate the reputation of chumps), and recognize a certain wickedness when they see it. The problem lies in that by rejecting Trump’s wickedness, we are bound to have Clinton’s wickedness forced upon us.

With Trump, we rightly fear a man who said “I believe the greatest of all stupidities is people’s believing [nuclear war] will never happen” having a non-recallable, autocratic, unilateral and unquestioned ability to launch our nuclear weapons at any target of his choosing. With Clinton, we rightly fear a woman who would have access to all the secrets of the NSA, and the ability to single-target a drone-strike on any individual on planet earth, with no trace of culpability.

We rightly fear Trump playing favorites with business people he likes, deals he personally favors, and foreign governments who give him the most “respect.” And we rightly fear Clinton doing the exact same thing, but being better at covering it up. Trump appeals to the low-information voter who knows something is terribly wrong with America, while Clinton appeals to the voter who should know better.

It seems that no matter what individual voters do at this point, our country is headed toward wickedness.

To borrow a line from my old favorite, Star Trek: The Next Generation: In an episode where “Q” was expelled from his omnipotent order and made a mortal, he tried to convince the Enterprise crew he wasn’t lying about being just a lowly human. “What must I do to convince you people?” “Die,” Worf shot back.

What would it take for Trump or Clinton to convince me they’re not wicked? Should either of them quit the race, then I’d at least consider the possibility.

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