This is the real (wait, fake) debate of the 2016 presidential election we’ve all been waiting for in this weekend’s premiere of the 42nd season of Saturday Night Live.
Comedy has its place in politics and Saturday Night Live (SNL) is that epicenter. The in-house legend Lorne Michaels, fully aware of his institution’s role in highly contentious elections, sought outside help to gently assist in a (potential) ratings bonanza by convincing longtime friend Alec Baldwin to play Donald Trump opposite hilarious cast member Kate McKinnon (Hillary Clinton). Throughout SNL’s esteemed history, creating caricatures of major political candidates and powerful leaders has been an entertaining trademark of the show. Particularly this election cycle, the major question isn’t determining whether there will be ample material from both sides.
Or material from the third candidate: Aleppo…Aleppo…Aleppo?
The concern is how much of the material has to be written?
The craziness, anger and, yes, sadness, of this presidential election has reached new lows that people never thought possible from the two major (well, all of the) candidates for the White House. And politics has always provided a steep curve. Still, scandals and new reasons for anger erupt on a seemingly daily basis, frustrating voters across the political spectrum. “These are our choices?” In this time of great trepidation, let’s take comfort in the words of the late Mark Twain:
“Humor is tragedy plus time.”
SNL is banking on five days being enough time from the tragedy of that first presidential debate.
That was a short vacation.
Just one day after Americans took time to enjoy a long weekend by reminiscing and celebrating what they love about this amazing country, FBI Director James Comey and Hillary Clinton brought us back to earth. Back to the gritty, dirty realities of the world around us.
If you thought there were questions for Secretary Clinton concerning her private email server before…
Regardless of political party, trust in the modern era is evaporating. Trust is a precious asset, whether in a person or institution. Politically, dissenting views and distrust from the left, right and middle about the presumptive Republican nominee and Democratic nominee for president seem to get louder by the day (Clinton and Trump are honestly the choices?). Mr. Comey added the FBI to the list of influential institutions Americans will view with a shake of the head and hands up in the air. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton added the Justice Department last week.
Something is wrong and has been wrong for some time now.
Without diving into the details (of which there are sadly too many), Mr. Comey read a laundry list of violations starting at 11:00 a.m. ET this morning by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding her private email server. Then, with no logical turning point, concluded his incriminating statements about Secretary Clinton did not warrant a recommendation to indict Secretary Clinton. His justification relies on the notion that he chose not to see intent.
(The background music is inappropriately lighthearted for such a serious issue, but the back-and-forth is important to see)
He used the phrase, “extremely careless.” You can bet a few lawyers will be using that defense in the near future.
Even Edward Snowden was confused (his Tweet had a Wall Street Journal link describing the indictment decision).
The larger point is that America’s leaders frequently and blatantly demonstrate there are different rules and standards for those in power versus the public. Moreover, that there’s special treatment for specific individuals. Consequently, there’s a trust gap that continues to grow wider by the day. The yearning for competent leadership and inspiring, yet practical vision may be at an all-time high in this country, even around the world.
Consider Brexit: The leading voices of that movement have “conveniently” removed themselves from responsibility for their actions by not running for the governing position. Was Brexit a good or bad idea in the long-term? That remains to be seen, but the British people likely aren’t comforted by their cowardly leaders, whether they were for the monumental change or not.
The precedent set this morning by FBI Director James Comey was a dangerous one. He will have to answer for his decision in hearings and interviews for a long time. Perhaps, in an effort to maintain an apolitical position and reputation (a term he used this morning) like Chief Justice John Roberts, he was too clever for his own good. The facts against Secretary Clinton and her constant lies for the past year were clear as day as detailed by Mr. Comey (thereby removing any benefit of the doubt for Secretary Clinton), yet the FBI Director chose nonsensical nuance over substance and common sense.
The problem is trust isn’t nuanced. You either have it or you don’t.
Maybe there was an indictment today after all.
“What difference, at this point, does it make?”
That was an appallingly disgraceful dodge of a question made by a top American official under congressional testimony. The inquiry was an attempt at finding some degree of the truth regarding the horrific events that occurred at the American diplomatic compound on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya. Still shocking years later, this response came from the secretary of state in what appeared to be a reprehensibly rehearsed comeback to deflect any culpability for not fulfilling her duties by not responding to multiple requests for increased security for those now deceased Americans who were stationed in a Middle East post, including Ambassador Stevens.
The people who murdered those Americans have not been brought to justice, unless you count a random guy who made a YouTube video that had nothing to do with the attacks. And Hillary Clinton has yet to take responsibility for failing to provide increased security that was directly requested for in that dangerous location. That was part of her job description and she failed miserably. It can be argued that it was a fatal mistake. Perhaps she was too busy buying a stupid red button from the dollar store that symbolized her delusional vision and inadequate judgement for world diplomacy.
Mr. Putin has clearly taken it seriously as a pivot in his actions.
As the story regarding a clear violation and security risks (and political donations?) linked to her exclusive private email use as secretary of state continue to unfold, Mrs. Clinton certainly had time to email during her 4-year tenure as the leader of American foreign affairs. Why wasn’t an ambassador a top priority emailing partner for her? Will she be held fully accountable by the national media for the recent revelations surrounding donations made by Middle Eastern countries to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state? Will Hillary Clinton accept responsibility for her decisions?
Sadly, the answer is no.
Why? Mostly because of 2016.
First it was 2008 and now it’s 2016. Hillary Clinton and Co. will literally do and say anything to get elected. Any legitimate barrier in their way will be mercilessly bulldozed, regardless if it has validity or reasons for further scrutiny and transparency. In the macro, anyone willing to do and say anything to be president shouldn’t be president. When the rules don’t apply to you and when seemingly every decision you make is wrong (see her time as secretary of state), appears political and is shockingly disingenuous, that’s when it becomes crystal clear that any pursuit at top public leadership positions have little to do with the people you would be serving, but selfishly only with yourself.
It’s the difference between integrity and duplicity.
Hillary Clinton recently said to a crowd, “Don’t you want to see a woman president?”
Yes, but not you.