John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

5 Reasons Why Comey did the GOP a Favor

Posted on July 7, 2016
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(This originally appeared on Political Storm)

Many Republicans will be disappointed that James Comey decided not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her email troubles. But I think the FBI did the GOP a big favor. Here are five reasons why:

1) The Democrats are now stuck with Hillary: Clinton is perhaps the worst natural politician to win a nomination since Richard Nixon. Her campaign speeches are like nails screeching on a chalk-board. If it weren’t for Donald Trump, her negatives would be the stuff of legend. Had she been indicted, Democrats would have eased her out and eased in Joe Biden, who would be much more problematic for Republicans.

2) Comey’s speech makes for a good campaign commercial: as Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post put it, “While Comey exonerated Clinton, legally speaking, he provided huge amounts of fodder that could badly hamstring her in the court of public opinion.” The FBI director called her “extremely careless” while painting a picture of a candidate and campaign who have trouble telling the whole truth.

3) Republicans now know not to wait for the Hail Mary: it has been a matter of faith that Hillary Clinton would be indicted, an action which would deliver the White House to the Republican nominee. I have seen this play before. Throughout the 1990’s, Republicans have counted on various scandals to derail the Clinton Machine, whether it be draft-dodging, Whitewater, Paula Jones, Travelgate, Monica Lewinsky, Vince Foster or a whole host of other conspiracies based on some semblance of the truth. But waiting for the next scandal to drop is no substitute for coming up with a real agenda that connects with the voters. Hopefully this will prod the Trump campaign and the Republican Party that is set to nominate him to start working on that agenda.

4) This plays into the Trump narrative: say what you will about The Donald, he has stumbled into an effective campaign motif that unifies a huge chunk of voters. The system is rigged and it must be completely overhauled. The whole dance between Team Clinton and the Justice Department helps to solidify that perception among voters. First, Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch have a secret meeting on her private jet, which was parked next to his private jet. Then, Lynch tells the public that she will do whatever the FBI and her attorneys tell her. And then a couple of days later, the FBI says that it won’t prosecute Mrs. Clinton for the same offenses that landed other, lower-level flunkies time in the pokey. If you think this game ain’t rigged, you aren’t paying attention. That’s Trump’s message and it works exceptionally well now.

5) Clinton is limping into her convention: “I am not a crook” is how Richard Nixon put it when he was trying to explain his role in Watergate. Clinton’s campaign theme is roughly similar as she tries to make the case to the voters that she is worthy of being voted into the White House. If this election is about competence, then Hillary is probably the best bet to win it. But if this election is about the desire of voters to change a corrupt system built for political insiders, then this non-indictment is the worst possible result. If the GOP can’t milk this for months at a time, then they don’t deserve to win.