WASHINGTON – Are some of us expecting too much of our political candidates in the matter of virtue? Old-fashioned notions about honesty, truth-telling, financial responsibility and respect for others, for example? And decency?
Hacked emails and old videotapes are showing us slices of these presidential nominees and their aides that voters might never have known about 15 years ago – secrets about the abuse of women and bigotry, and the exploitation of political office and institutions for money.
They are about 3,500 years old, these notions about honor and trust. Ancient Greeks began to codify them, and in Israel the followers of Yahweh and Ba’al fought over them. And then came, pardon the expression, the Ten Commandments, lately known as the Ten Suggestions.
Some thought it was conscience who spoke to the Prophet Elijah in a “still, small voice” out of the rubble in Sinai.
But as Western society matures, it is doing away with conscience as boring, burdensome and behind the times.
For where was that “still, small voice” when Donald J. Trump mocked a disabled reporter at a rally? Where was it when Trump ridiculed the “face” of Carly Fiorina, a Republican primary challenger? Where was that voice when Trump suggested Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the murder of President John F. Kennedy?
Yet Trump captured millions of votes from Americans who were, and are, untroubled by what he did and said, and he won the Republican nomination.
Did he hear it? Does he ever hear that voice? Does anyone hear it?
America was “shocked, shocked” to learn from an “Access Hollywood” tape that Trump talked dirty. Trump had been talking dirty about people and events since he announced.
The mystery is why Americans should be more put off by Trump’s behavior than by the predatory conduct of the husband and sponsor of the Democratic nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Where was the voice when former President Bill Clinton met privately with the U.S. attorney general as the FBI was investigating his wife? Where was conscience when aides and employees of the Clintons destroyed materials under subpoena by Congress?
Who or what was speaking to the former president when he and his wife, the secretary of state, managed to allow 20 percent of this country’s uranium reserves to fall under the control of Russian oligarchs friendly to President Vladimir Putin? And more than $140 million in gifts from these oligarchs went to the Clinton Foundation.
Hillary Clinton has strongly suggested that all of this late-breaking negative information about her campaign revealed by WikiLeaks really originated from computer hacks sponsored by the Putin regime.
But isn’t it fair to ask, in light of the uranium deal, who are the real Putin dupes here?
Friday – with only days left before Election Day – FBI Director James Comey announced the bureau was reopening its probe into whether Clinton violated the law by her use of a private, unprotected email server at the Clintons’ mansion in Westchester County.
But it’s bootless to blame the Russians or WikiLeaks for these disclosures. These revelations should have been the work of a robust competition among the private media in investigative reporting.
Everyone knows those days of investigative journalism in D.C. are over.
The FBI’s reputation is badly damaged, and no one has any real trust in it.