Politics Magazine

In An "Alternate Universe" Would The GOP Be As Forgiving ?

Posted on the 02 February 2018 by Jobsanger
 The following is part of an op-ed by Bret Stephens in the New York Times. He poses an interesting and thought-provoking question -- what if Hillary Clinton had been elected and acted in the same manner that Donald Trump has acted? He writes:
Late last year, Tom Nichols, a professor at the Naval War College and a NeverTrump conservative, proposed a little thought experiment for Republicans skeptical of Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s Russia ties. “Let’s play Alternate Universe,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s 2017, and President Hillary Clinton is facing charges that Chelsea met with Russians who offered oppo on Trump. Chelsea didn’t call the FBI; and Clinton nat sec adviser Jake Sullivan lied to the FBI about talking to the Russians.” Nichols laid out the unfolding drama over a series of tweets. President Clinton fires the F.B.I. director after he declines her request to “let it go” on Sullivan. “Then, at least three other Clinton campaign officials end up indicted. All of them are tied in some way to a hostile foreign power.” Later, she threatens to “yank FOX’s license” because she didn’t like its critical coverage. “I’m sure … totally sure …” Nichols added with no little irony, “that stalwarts of the G.O.P. would say: Look, this is a nothingburger, you can’t define ‘collusion,’ it’s just ‘the coffee boy,’ and on and on.”. . . So let’s play Alternate Universe again, and bring Nichols’ scenarios up-to-date. Imagine that President Hillary Clinton had agreed to release a partisan Democratic intelligence memo over the objections of Republicans in Congress and her own top F.B.I. officials that disclosure could harm national security. Would conservative pundits and politicians: (a) Praise President Clinton for abandoning her old habits of secrecy and standing strong on the side of transparency in government? (b) Call for her impeachment on grounds that she had compromised national security for shamelessly self-serving political reasons? Imagine, next, that the Clinton campaign had named as a foreign policy adviser a little known figure with scanty business or academic credentials but with strongly pro-Putin views and curious links to senior Russian officials. Imagine that this same adviser later testified to Congress that the Clinton campaign had asked him to sign a nondisclosure agreement after a trip he took to Russia during the height of the campaign. Imagine also that senior Clinton campaign officials at first denied and later had their memories “refreshed” about knowing him. Would conservative pundits and politicians: (a) Agree with Clinton administration spokespersons that, while the campaign had named him as an adviser, he had no role in anything and that his links to Russia were purely incidental? (b) Agree with Democrats in Congress that the F.B.I. had no business whatsoever in surveilling him because a political dossier might have served as one basis of suspicion, and that his civil liberties had been seriously traduced? (c) Note that his presence on the campaign was of a piece with Clinton’s disastrous “reset” of relations with Russia under the Obama administration, and that it suggested a policy of appeasing the Kremlin at America’s expense? Imagine, finally, that after firing James Comey for insufficient loyalty, President Clinton had asked the deputy director of the F.B.I. how he had voted in the election in an Oval Office meeting. Imagine that after learning that he hadn’t voted, she unleashed a campaign of public invective and belittlement aimed at his wife for having once run for state office as a Republican. Imagine, in this same connection, that the effort to oust the deputy director was only a warm-up to getting rid of the deputy attorney general, a well-regarded, straight-shooting Democrat who had appointed the special counsel looking into Clinton’s Russia ties. Would conservative pundits and politicians: (a) Applaud President Clinton for taking a belated but necessary step to clean up a “politicized” Justice Department that had interfered against her at the end of the campaign, while also agreeing that the party affiliation of an F.B.I. official’s spouse is a legitimate basis to suspect the official of disloyalty and partisan motives? (b) Cast aspersions on the deputy attorney general for defending the work of the special counsel against the wishes of the president? (c) Accuse the president of obstructing justice by smearing and effectively ousting upstanding public servants whose only sin was to do their jobs to the best of their abilities while, in one case, being married to a woman with political ambitions? I think we all know the answer. The Republicans would be screaming for her impeachment. That exposes their hypocrisy in defense of Trump.

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