On Tuesday morning, FBI Director James Comey may have exonerated Hillary Clinton, but he also handed her to Donald Trump on a silver platter. He rebuffed each of her major claims about the email “non-“scandal, and called her behavior “extremely careless.” He was almost begging The Donald to eviscerate her. Instead, he did the one thing that makes him look worse than her right now — he praised a dictator.
Trump spoke in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday evening, just hours after President Obama had campaigned with Clinton (lending her the presidential seal, no less!). Rather than spending his entire remarks focused like a laser on Clinton’s malpractice, The Donald proved to be his usual meandering foot-in-mouth self, listing off the virtues of Saddam Hussein. Yes, SADDAM HUSSEIN.
This was completely off the cuff, too. No reporter forced The Donald to discuss the deceased Iraqi dictator. “Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, right? He was a bad guy. Really bad guy,” Trump declared. “But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights, they didn’t talk. They were a terrorist — it was over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism.”
Don’t belive me? Here’s the video.
Sweet Moses… pic.twitter.com/fL1u9R6VXm
— Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) July 6, 2016
Now, to be fair, The Donald did spend a decent amount of time talking about Hillary’s email scandal. “She was guilty! She was guilty!” he declared at the rally. “We have a rigged system, folks.” “Today is the biggest evidence ever, that we’ve seen, that our system is absolutely, totally rigged. It’s rigged,” Trump stated, smartly talking up the scandal that has dogged Hillary for months. He argued that Senator Bernie Sanders “lost the FBI primary.” The Donald went on to explain why the email scandal is important: “People she emailed were hacked and probably — I think maybe definitely — were hacked by these hostile actors. Our enemies have a blackmail file on Crooked Hillary, and this alone should mean that she does not run for president of the United States.” “She lied!” he declared. “She sent vast amounts of classified information, including information classified as Top Secret!”
In classic Trump fashion, The Donald went even further, alleging that Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch have a secret pact. “It’s a bribe!” he declared, noting Clinton’s statements that she might extend Lynch’s tenure into her own administration. “I mean the attorney general is sitting right there saying, if I get Hillary off the hook, I’m going to have four more years or eight more years. But if she loses, I’m out of a job,” Trump explained. “It’s a bribe. It’s a disgrace.” He also accused Obama of being complicit in this conspiracy. “He’s campaigning and this was set up a long time ago,” The Donald stated. “He knew that the FBI was going to do this because it would have been very uncomfortable for him to campaign with her actually if they didn’t take a pass on Crooked Hillary.” “So they take a pass, they announce they’re not going to press charges, lo and behold, a few hours later, let’s have a press conference, let’s do a speech together.” But what will be the trending story tomorrow morning? Trump praises Saddam Hussein. What was House Speaker Paul Ryan asked about on The Kelly File this evening? Trump’s praise of Saddam Hussein. What is trending on Twitter? “Saddam Hussein.”
How many of you saw Saddam Hussein trending and immediately wondered if he had died again? — TedInJest (@TedInJest) July 6, 2016
Next Page: How Hillary is exactly like Trump in emulating dictators.
Now, this is something Trump has brought up in the past, not a new argument he just thought up on Tuesday night. Just this week, the man who claims to have toppled the Saddam Hussein statue in Iraq said that he would like to put it back up again, because things have gotten worse in his country.
Nevertheless, The Donald’s praise for the dictator is guaranteed to pick up traction. Like most of The Donald’s off-the-cuff comments, it will likely swallow the main story his campaign needs in order to weaken Hillary Clinton.
Trump has been using this Saddam Hussein line since at least January 2014, when he spoke at Politics & Eggs in NH. https://t.co/IWwjIzacAx
— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) July 6, 2016
And the natural result? Trump will be called “fascist” and compared to Adolf Hitler once again.
This country elected a President who quotes Mussolini, admires Putin, and praises Saddam Hussein. You won’t believe what happened next! — Will Smith (@willsmith) July 6, 2016
The fact is, Donald Trump does have a terrifying respect for dictators who avoid the rule of law. He sees them as people who “get the job done,” and this is indeed what Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was famous for — getting the trains to run on time. These men may have achieved specific goals, but they did so at the expense of their people’s freedom — and often at the expense of their people’s very lives.
It is important to note that Hillary Clinton has a similar disregard for the rule of law and the limitations of government. She is merely more effective at cloaking her own calls for big government which is unaccountable to the people. She promises to push “progressive” change through executive orders, no matter how strongly Congress might fight back.
We are in the sad predicament of facing two major-party candidates who both distrust the rule of law and the American form of limited government. While Trump seems to view it as an obstacle to be publicly pushed aside, Hillary sees it as a platitude to pay homage to in speeches, but subvert with all her effort behind the scenes. Ironically, Clinton’s approach is arguably more dangerous because it is more subtle.
The email scandal — prematurely “solved” as it is — merely demonstrates Clinton’s desire to hide her public work from the eyes of the American people. Indeed, experts have testified that she put American national security secrets at risk, seemingly just to hide her dealings from those pesky voters. She likely learned such secrecy and subterfuge by investigating the master of political backroom deals, Richard Nixon.
Trump did attack Clinton on the scandal, and his claims about a conspiracy between the presumptive Democratic nominee and the attorney general might gain some attention, but for every step forward attacking Hillary, he took his campaign two steps backward by praising Hussein. If The Donald really wishes to be president, this is not the best way of getting there.