Belmont Club

Anthony Weiner Calls Back

U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

The revival of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails as a result of discoveries in the seemingly forgotten Anthony Weiner sexting scandal is a perfect example of the historical callback described in a recent post.  This occurs when consequences suddenly return with a value different from the one the Narrative suggested, leaving the spin machine to deal with it.  The New York Times explains the chain of events:

Emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server were found after the F.B.I. seized electronic devices once shared by Anthony D. Weiner and his estranged wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Mrs. Clinton, federal law enforcement officials said Friday.

The F.B.I. is investigating illicit text messages that Mr. Weiner, a former Democratic congressman from New York, sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. The bureau told Congress on Friday that it had uncovered new emails related to the Clinton case — one federal official said they numbered in the thousands — potentially reigniting an issue that has weighed on the presidential campaign and offering a lifeline to Donald J. Trump less than two weeks before the election.

The email scandal may have risen from the narrative grave like a movie monster.  Clinton’s supporters are understandably apoplectic. The Hill has a compilation of tweets by prominent Democrats expressing their fury and dismay at the FBI for throwing a wrench in the works this late in the campaign. Their basic theme is: why now? Robert Reich wrote: “The timing couldn’t be worse or more irresponsible. Just over a week before an election….” Paul Krugman said, “If we don’t hear more from Comey, we just have to conclude that he was trying to swing election. And *that* should be the story.”

Campaign chairman John Podesta stated his displeasure in no uncertain terms:

“It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election,” Clinton campaign chair John Podesta wrote in the official statement, the campaign’s first comment since stunning word broke that Clinton’s emails were back under the microscope at FBI headquarters.

Why now? That’s how callbacks work. By definition one can’t tell when they’re going to show up. When they do, their main job is to notify the main program that “I’m here,” leaving the main logic to deal with whatever they bring. The Narrative’s biggest headache is that they didn’t understand this. They thought they were in control of the news cycle. They thought they could write tomorrow’s headlines through Talking Points.  They neglected to reckon with the fact that 8 years of domestic and foreign policy failure and decades of Clinton machinations would return consequences at unpredictable times.  When they did, they would have to deal with it.

What the Narrative characteristically tries to do is bundle the result into another promise and shove both off into the future. The trouble is that this too will return. God keeps shoving back the penny in unpredictable ways. To paraphrase Lincoln: you can bury all of the lede some of the time; you can bury some of the lede nearly all the time.  But sooner or later something will leak through.  You can’t bury all of the lede all of the time.

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