For many voters, the election may come down to this: the only thing worse than electing Hillary Clinton president? Electing Donald Trump.
At least, that must be what the Clinton camp is relying on now that her use of a private server is back under investigation by the FBI and, with one week to go, her lead against Trump is shrinking. They are also hoping this latest disaster does not prompt enough Republicans to hold their noses and vote for Trump, who is gloating over her 11th-hour crisis.
For many conservatives who are not voting for Trump or Clinton, the calculation was a painful one: She is awful and does not deserve our vote, but he is dangerous and cannot be the next President.
But for all the handwringing over whom to blame for the rise of Trump and how Republicans ended up with such a dangerous and unqualified nominee, no one is asking who is to blame for Clinton.
If you argue that his transgressions are far worse than hers, then there is no reason Democrats should be neck and neck with a man who proverbially defecated on his own party, the Constitution, the Democratic process and wide swaths of American voters for nearly a year and a half. He has disqualified himself at every turn on every major test of character and skill set by which we judge our Presidents. He is unequivocally unfit.
And yet the Democratic nominee could lose to him in a week. Will the same introspection that followed Republicans’ loss to President Obama in 2012 befall the Democrats if Clinton loses to Trump? Or even if she narrowly defeats him?
It should. The protection of the Clintons over decades by Democrats, despite their omnipresent cloud of corruption, scandal and unaccountability, has delivered unto the left a candidate who could lose to the most unpopular nominee in modern history.
That’s because getting Hillary Clinton elected president has been the unwavering mission of a constellation of powerful and loyal people who have covered for her and ignored her obvious transgressions.
The email scandal — that she relied on a personal server, that she knowingly sent classified information on it, and that there are 33,000 emails she has not turned over — is just the most recent troubling issue for Clinton. Anyone looking to preserve her strength as a candidate should have advised her to handle all of this differently.
But plenty of other troubling and damaging scandals and storylines should have prompted Democrats to seriously consider whether she would be the best candidate to win the presidency.
Going back decades, there’s Whitewater, Travelgate, the sexual harassment allegations against her husband by several women who claim she personally sought to silence them.
There’s Benghazi, which she seems to have survived, but not without delivering a memorable line that Clinton has probably used about more than one scandal: “What difference at this point does it make?”
But it’s her more recent patterns of behavior — flouting of the rules, obsessive opacity and an intermingling of the official with the profitable — that should have made her an objectionable candidate.
There’s the issue of the millions the Clintons made in paid speeches to banks and other institutions that might reveal quid pro quos between the Clintons, their foundation, the State Department and foreign states.
There’s the Clinton Foundation and its murky transactions between friends of the Clintons, the State Department and foreign governments. She promised when she became Secretary of State that the Clinton Foundation would report foreign donations. It did not.
Thanks to FBI interviews and hacked emails, we now know the extent to which Clinton’s inner circle and top Democratic officials enabled her inexcusable behavior and manufactured her rise.
And now, the very people who presumably expected White House posts for all their years of loyalty have been so bloodied on the way they are almost certain to be disqualified if Hillary Clinton ever gets there.
To be clear, Donald Trump should not be president. But if he is elected, Democrats who either naively or willfully believed that Hillary Clinton was their best option will shoulder a good deal of the blame.
Contact Cupp at thesecupp.com
This column originally appeared in the New York Daily News.
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