You don’t have to be watching the US version of House of Cards for long to wonder at the parallels with the actual election in all its vileness.
We have just finished series three and stepped into four. By coincidence, this means we have been seeing the fictional contest for the White House run in parallel with the actual one. As the presidential race for November 2016 hots up on the screen, the real election enters its last scrappy, hate-filled phase. Of the two contests, one contains more murder and Machiavellian plotting. We can only hope that it is the fictional version.
Sometimes the classy TV drama seems almost tame when compared with the reality. It is certainly hard to recall a less edifying example of democracy at work. Neither candidate seems deserving of the role. Hillary Clinton should win of course. But this is just because she isn’t Donald Trump – a man whose myriad faults and failings mark him as appallingly unsuitable for the role. Yet millions of Americans lap up his hateful fantasies, malignant blame culture and random crazed enthusiasms.
Clinton looked to have the election in the bag. Then the FBI tripped her up by announcing further investigations into her email problem. This long-running affair goes back seven years. It concerns a private server Clinton had set up at her home when she was secretary of state. While she was doing the job, she says she received more than 62,000 emails. Half of these she says were official, and the rest were personal, concerning her daughter’s wedding, her mother’s funeral and her “yoga routines”.
Her difficulty lies in having set up a private rather than a state server. This means that the state couldn’t keep a record of her emails; and the public must trust Clinton when she says that she wasn’t trying to hide anything.
The affair was investigated by the FBI and while there is a moral muddiness to Clinton’s behaviour, it is not thought she did anything illegal (unless you are Donald Trump, but we shall come to his self-serving ravings in a moment)
The matter appeared to have been settled, or at least shoved under the carpet. Then the FBI announced it was looking again at the email affair. This was thanks to the FBI director James Comey saying that new emails might be relevant. These are said to have come from the disgraced politician Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s closest political aides.
Weiner was caught in a sexting scandal. He is said to have sent pictures of his genitals to several women; or his “bulging underwear” as US newspapers prefer to put it. This detail comes from a helpful Newsbeat explainer on the BBC website.
The Democrats believe that the FBI may have acted illegally in releasing this news of this fresh investigation just one week before the election (when people in many states are already voting).
Donald Trump is naturally delighted, as it tips him an electoral advantage. This latest fuss about nothing much deflects attention from that long line of women claiming to have been groped by him, and from his rampant misogyny and general toxicity.
Instead he can now rant about Clinton being a criminal and how she should be in prison – even though want she did wasn’t at all illegal (probably).
At least nobody got pushed under subway train, gassed in their car or buried in the desert after being run over by an old van driven by a bald maniac. At least not so far as we know.