Trump Criticizes Christ; Goes Up in Polls

Proving he is the hugest thing ever to hit the American political scene, Donald Trump’s poll numbers actually went up this month after his recent criticisms of Jesus Christ. Trump bragged that by contrast, even the Beatles fell in popularity when, 50 years ago, John Lennon asserted that Christianity was in decline and the group was “more popular than Jesus.”

Trump’s controversial comments came in a wide-ranging interview for Decision Magazine with Franklin Graham, son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham. In the article, Franklin describes the 2016 presidential race as “the most important election of our time” and Donald Trump as “The Chosen One.” Franklin invited Trump to “open up for our readers about your views on Jesus.”

After clarification from Franklin that he was referring to “Jesus Christ — the one in the Bible,” Trump said, “OK, that guy. I admit it. I’ve got some reservations about him. For one thing, he allowed himself to be captured. In my book, that’s not what a hero does. They don’t turn the other cheek — you know, choke. I wish he had punched the Romans in the face. Knocked the crap out of Judas. Judas was a very bad dude. Had it coming.”

The transcript reflects Franklin Graham breaking into a coughing spell at this point, while Trump continues to propound on what Jesus had done wrong. “He praised the Samaritans — people who wouldn’t have been around if not for open borders. He said the meek were blessed. Did you get that? The meek are blessed. The other religions — I mean — they’re laughing at us.”

When Franklin resumed his composure, he pushed back, questioning if Trump meant what he said. “Oh, I know more than the generals about ISIS, and more than Jesus about living right,” Trump assured him.

Trump went on to list other areas of disagreement:

“Blessed are the peacemakers? It’s very weak. I’m going to make America so unmeek you’ll get tired of it.”

“Blessed are you when you are persecuted? I guess he couldn’t afford lawyers to stand up for his rights. Or maybe Roman laws were like ours: too much protection to people who tells lies about you.”

“Praying in private and secretly giving to the poor? I mean, what’s the point if the cameras don’t catch it? If it’s not on TV, it didn’t happen. Just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Asked if he could name one thing Jesus did right, Trump cited the ability to express memorable things in a tweetable 140 characters or less: “The Golden Rule, you know, that ‘Treat others like they treat you’ — Jesus said that in less than 40 characters and everyone in the world knows about it. It’s great, really great. Walking on water, that’s another thing I admire. Believe me, I really do.”

Franklin pegged religious freedom as “the No. 1 issue” and Trump as “100 percent right on it.” He compared this to Hillary Clinton being a Methodist, “which in the end is only nine letters away from Muslim.”

Trump noted with pride that he does “very well with the Jews, a lot of them are voting for me and are my close friends. They count my money. I trust them.”

Franklin wrapped up by admitting he resented Trump for making Christians choose between “political power and the Prince of Peace” but that Trump was right: Jesus spent “too much time with the needy — if Jesus focused more on flattering the political elite like I do, Herod and Pilate would have been his buddies.”

Trump nodded his hair in agreement.

 

[Originally appeared in September 27, 2016 Waco Tribune-Herald at 4A.]

My (Pitiful) Trump Endorsement

In response to Sammy McLarty’s Sept. 4 pro-Trump column in the Tribune-Herald, I also start with a quote:

“In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.” — Mark Twain

Behold how many areas of agreement McLarty and I have (with minor exceptions noted):

• Like the Founding Fathers, Trump will be independent of “the Establishment — the ruling class” (except the Founding Fathers feared mob rule as much as a king and, on the downside, excluded over half the population from voting).

• Trump “will not be bound by shady alliances/allegiances or beholden to special interests” (except for his ties to the most dangerous of our totalitarian enemies, Vladimir Putin, and his support from American nationalists who wish to overthrow our system of civil rights and due process for all). Trump surely will disregard the interests of big business (other than those of himself, his family and his cronies).

• Trump speaks “plainly, no matter whose sacred cow or favored groups are offended” (and only in one out of two speeches does he show disdain for women, “the blacks,” “the Mexicans” or some combination thereof).

• He will deal with “uncontrolled immigration” (by doing the same things President Obama is now doing: stopping entry at the border, prioritizing deportation of immigrants who commit crimes, increasing spending on the U.S. Border Patrol and keeping the net immigration of Mexican nationals at zero or lower).

• He will stop “unfair trade causing billions in trade imbalance” and “globalization at the expense of working Americans” (by devoting less time to his businesses that have relied on illegal immigrants, imports of cheap clothing from China and cheating small businesses out of the money he owes them that they would use to make payroll).

• He will stand up to big news media (except he embraced as a campaign adviser Roger Ailes, who headed the hugest U.S. news network — Fox — and was deposed over blocking career advancement of females not returning his sexual advances).

• Trump will end “juvenile” collegiate angst about “safe spaces, safe speech and safe thought” (except he wants to change the First Amendment to make it easier to sue journalists who criticize him; a couple of his followers have the habit of whining to the Trib when one of my columns ribbing Trump invades their safe space).

• Trump honors his supporters’ “madder’n hell” view of the world (except that their griping is odd given they live in the wealthiest nation in human history and claim to be oppressed whenever it is suggested others might be given the opportunities they were).

• The alternative is a return of “Bill and Hillary back in the White House” (and who among us could bear the economically prosperous, pre-9/11 world of the 1990s?).

• “Someone so opposed by so many must be doing something right” (except that opposition by those who traditionally support the GOP nominee could be a sign that Trump truly is a danger).

• In short, Trump will bring a political revolution, an earthquake of change in Washington (though the middle class tends to get screwed in revolutions and earthquakes create great destruction).

Frustration over the lack of “trickle down” to the middle class of the prosperity experienced by the 1 percent is understandable. We merely disagree over whether a huckster, influence-buying, small-business-busting billionaire is the solution.

This column originally appeared in the Waco Tribune-Herald  on Friday, September 9, 2016.

Bears in the Woods v. the Custodians

In lieu of a petition to the Waco City Council

Hidden deep among the cottonwood and cedar trees along the Brazos river, a meeting was being held of the Venerated Council of Sovereign North American Black Bears. While the business at hand was quite important, we use only first names to protect identities.

Bruiser: Order! Order! Come to order! What is our business today?

Joy: I have an idea for reducing poverty among the bear populations.

Joe: I have an idea for preserving the bear middle class!

Ted: I have an idea for attracting bees that produce more honey.

Bruiser: All great ideas. But we have one agenda item left from the last council meeting.

Joy: Surely it could not be more pressing than stopping the cycle of poverty!

Bruiser: Oh, much more important. It is an idea to save us 294,000 jars of honey a year.

Ted: Fantastic!

Joe: Too good to be true!

Bruiser: All we have to do is contract out the custodial work.

Ted: This is better than Pooh’s Spring Cleaning Mystery!

Joy: It’s a no brainer. We’d have to have fluff in our ears not to know that.

Bruiser: We get to pay someone else to pay the custodial bears for us.

Joe: They do it for free?

Bruiser: No, they take the smaller amount of honey we give them and they take some of it out for their trouble, but they let the custodial bears have the drops that are left.

Joy: I bet the custodial bears will be happy not to have to worry about having insurance cards to carry around anymore.

Ted: And no more having to count vacation days.

Joe: And no more having to find a place in a tree to store retirement statements.

Bruiser: This is the best idea we have ever had! We can use the honey we save to spread around to bring new businesses to the forest. When they open, they might create jobs that provide more honey to our fellow bears!

Joy: The problem with giving the custodial bears honey is that they will just use it up.

Ted: But what if the custodial bears get angry?

Joe: They claim to be working too hard to show up for our meetings, but I think that just proves that we should contract them out. They don’t care about us.

Bruiser: I’m sure one of those custodial bears will suggest contracting out this Venerated Council of Sovereign North American Black Bears. But that won’t happen — the other bears rely on us to protect their quality of life.

Joy: To attract new jobs with honey saved by cutting ones we already have.

Ted: Exactly! Even the custodial bears will be grateful once they realize that their losing honey, insurance, leave and retirement benefits might just maybe someday help create a job for another bear that provides all those things.

Joe: Let’s promise to use most of the honey we save for programs to stop bear poverty. That way even the do-gooder bears can’t complain.

Bruiser: It’s unanimous then. A round of tea and honey for everyone!

Joy: You have forgotten, Brother Bruiser, that we end all our meetings with a reading of a randomly picked verse from our Beloved Bear Bible.

Joe: (Flipping open the Beloved Bear Bible, putting his claw down) Here it is, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least paid of these bears, you refused to help me.”

Ted: Not sure what it means, but I like it.

Joy: As Pooh remarked, “They say nothing is impossible, but I did it today.”

This column originally appeared in the August 13, 2016 Waco Tribune-HeraldUse of the names of Baylor mascots in the story above does not constitute the endorsement by real bears of the actions described.

Trump apologizes! For all of it!

Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump stunned the electorate last night with an extended apology. He did so without the sort of “mistakes were made” equivocation so often heard from establishment politicians. His confession was direct and full of humility.

“America, I ask you to forgive me,” he began, “for what I have done and what I have left undone. I humbly repent and promise to do better.” The apologyathon at his New York press conference was preceded by setting the social media world aflame by tweeting simply “I have sinned. #repenting.”

At the press event, Trump acknowledged a litany of what he labeled “offenses against God and man.”

“Forgive me, Capt. Khan, for insulting the honor of your sacrifice and your religion.

“Forgive me, Sen. Cruz, for alleging your father plotted with assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

“Forgive me, Sen. McCain, for calling you a loser for being a prisoner of war.

“Forgive me, Megyn Kelly, for using your gender to attack you for a tough question.

“Forgive me, Judge Curiel, for assuming your Latino heritage justified recusal.

“Forgive me, small-business colleagues, for cheating you out of money I owed you.

“Forgive me, Trump University graduates, for selling you a worthless degree.

“Forgive me, female reporters, for saying it doesn’t matter what you write as long as you’ve ‘got a young and beautiful piece of a–.’

“Forgive me, female soldiers, for saying sexual assaults were an expected result of letting women in the military.

“Forgive me, New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, for mocking your disability.

“Forgive me, women of American and Eastern Europe, for treating you like property.

“Forgive me, President Obama, for lying about where you were born and suggesting you like it when terrorists attack us.

“Forgive me, African-Americans and Jews, for saying I didn’t want ‘black guys counting my money,’ instead only ‘little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.’

“Forgive me, women of childbirth age, for saying that if you get an abortion, ‘There has to be some form of punishment.’

“Forgive me, Hillary Clinton, for claiming that you made a deal with the devil and are the devil.

“Forgive me, Ivanka, for describing you by saying, ‘What a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father …’ and saying that if you weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating you.

“Forgive me, Mexican immigrants, for suggesting you are nearly all rapists and other kinds of criminals.

“Forgive me, Muslims in New Jersey, for suggesting you cheered the 9/11 attacks.

“Forgive me, Rosie O’Donnell, for saying you were a fat pig and disgusting animal.

“Forgive me, citizens of Ukraine, for falsely claiming Putin did not invade you.

“Forgive me, Republican primary colleagues, for calling you low-energy, ugly to look at, little, fat, big-eared, embarrassing and disgusting.

“Forgive me, Univision, Washington Post and Huffington Post, for revoking your press access simply because I could not take criticism.

“Finally, forgive me, God and good citizens, for never having ever asked for forgiveness before in my life.”

The apologies caused an immediate spike in the polls, with Trump taking a 15-point lead. In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan declared: “This, this is the Donald Trump we have all waited for, that we knew was in there, waiting to come out. God bless America, and God bless Donald Trump.”

Within minutes of Trump’s pronouncement, Hillary Clinton tweeted: “It’s satire. #duh.”

This column originally appeared in the August 4, 2016 Waco-Tribune Herald, where David is a member of the Board of Contributors.

Trump Debate Transcript Leaked!

“The system is rigged!”

That’s the one thing that The Donald, The Bernie and the me agree on. How else could I have obtained this leaked Sept. 26 transcript of the first presidential debate? From it we learn exactly what Trump (DT), Hillary Clinton (HC) and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson (GJ) will say. Apparently the only detail to be filled in is which reporters will ask the scripted questions — just as you suspected.

Media: Welcome to Dayton, Ohio, and the first general election debate of the 2016 presidential election.

DT: I’m Donald Trump! Spasibo!

HC: And I’m not. Not at all.

GJ: I’m . . . I’m . . . oh my god, I’m in a presidential debate . . . I . . .

Media: How will we solve the $20 trillion national debt?

DT: Chapter 13 and I don’t mean the Two Corinthians.

HC: I propose we tax bigotry.

GJ: When they go low, we’ll get high. And tax it.

Media: What’s your position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal?

DT: Trump University is offering a course on trade wars. Get out your credit cards.

HC: Is this microphone working? (tapping mike) I believe I’m out of time, I . . .

GJ: Legal pot brownies. Legal pot Dr. Pepper floats. Legal pot Cheetos. Legal—

Media: Who would your first Supreme Court nominee be?

DT: Judge Roy Bean? Believe me — a law and order guy. Maybe Judge Reinhold? I loved “Beverly Hills Cop.” Huge fan.

HC: Someone not named Donald Trump. Michelle Obama?

GJ: Ummm . . . Bob Marley? Timothy Leary? It’s great to be invited to this —

Media: Should abortion rights be protected or eliminated?

DT: I’d jail the women . . . no, I support the right to . . . wait . . . I mean . . . I am personally committed to never having an abortion. The pigs who —

HC: I’m still not Donald Trump. Have we seen Donald’s tax returns yet?

GJ: Freedom from government regulation is the cornerstone of our constitutional —

Media: Does money have too much influence in politics?

DT: Why do you hate freedom?

HC: As you saw in the Priorities USA Action Super Pac ad, I’m getting money out of politics.

GJ: Did you know “Federal Reserve” is Latin for “Feed the Illuminati”?

Media: Who’s had the most influence on your life?

DT: The Benjamins. My favorite president.

HC: Certainly not Donald Trump. Never been mistaken for each other, by the way.

GJ: Umm . . . Ross Ulbricht? Okay, maybe not. Satoshi Nakamoto? Okay, Willy Wonka?

Media: What’s your solution for the war in Syria?

DT: I’ve got a secret plan. Huge, with the greatest ally ever. Pobeda za nami!

HC: Dictators, whether Bashar al-Assad or Donald Trump, respond only to strength. I . . .

GJ: Is Syria on our mail route? If not, we shouldn’t be there. We can’t afford endless—

Media: How will you deal with climate change?

DT: It’s bull****, that whole thing. I’ll fire Mother Nature for bleeding out her whatever. I’ll teach that pig to —

HC: It will be a cold day in hell before I am mistaken for Donald Trump.

GJ: Only with free markets can we solve a problem as great as —

Media: Any final words for the voters?

DT: There’s something going on. That’s all I’ll say. We need to look into it. Dobro pozhalovatʹ.

HC: God Bless America and vote for someone other than Donald Trump. Those emails I sent about Donald being on the DNC payroll, ignore those. Thought they had been deleted.

GJ: Oh no! I wasted my one chance to tell America how —

Media: And so it ends. See you Oct. 4 in Farmville, Virginia!

 

[Originally appeared July 31, 2016 at 7A in Waco Tribune-Herald, where David is a member of the Board of Contributors]

Graveside Remarks for a Relative with Bipolar Disorder

These were my July 9, 2016 remarks for a graveside service for a relative that died an untimely death after years of struggling with bipolar illness. Names have been changed for the sake of privacy.–David Schleicher  texaswaco@att.net   http://www.TheContranym.com

 ____________

Even after a hundred thousand years, and knowing it happens to every single one of us, we are still not used to death. 

On top of that, like few other things can, the death of children before their parents makes us feel like the universe is out of order, that chaos controls our fate, and that we dare not hope for a better future.  I have lost a cousin under similar circumstances.  

For Cindy’s service today, our mutual relative Rebecca told me she would not be here. You may not know this, but Rebecca is bi-polar. She said I could explain there was simply too much risk this would throw her into a depression. 

For similar reasons I have requested that Michelle in my family, who also is bipolar, arrive just after the service. Or if she gets here while it is still going on, to stand where I cannot see her, because of the risk of my breaking down at the thought of her possibly coming to the same end. 

Rebecca has described her own struggle to me as always having a little man in the back of her head, trying to persuade her that she is not loved, that the universe would be better off with out her, and that there is only one way to end the pain. 

In dark times, she says he is shouting this so loudly he is very difficult to disobey. In good times, he still says it, but she is able to tell him he is a liar and let him fade into the background. 

In good times, there are few people more fun to be around than someone like Rebecca, Michelle, or Cindy. In bad times, the hybrid of depression and irritability drives others away when help is most needed.

We know enough now about neuroscience and the personal lives of the famous to be aware that it is often the most special among us that suffer from such conditions. Robin Williams comes to mind.

Looking through Cindy’s photo and memory album today, we were reminded of what a bright, beautiful, and shining light she was. I am passing around her physician father’s favorite photo of her: the very young Cindy examining her infant brother with a stethoscope.

She kept a note from a high school admirer who wrote, “Cindy—well you graduated. You think you’re bad and all. Well I’m here to tell you that you are…” Further down he added, “Even if you drop me like a football or even a baseball, I will always remember you. I reckon you are kinda hard to forget.” 

Another page of mementos reminds of us her love for Gone with the Wind, of Godiva Chocolate, and an Eddie Money concert she attended while in high school.  

We know these days that it is no surprise that in families that face such difficulties as we face today, one also might find a gifted opera singer (like him over there). Or an over-achieving medical researcher (like him there). 

Cindy was accomplished whether on the tennis court, running cross country, or in the classroom as a member of the National Honor Society. Artistic and creative, she was rarely in need of inspiration for her designs and watercolor and acrylic creations. When she wore shoes from two different pairs at the same time, she would leave others wondering what new trend they were missing out on rather than if she knew what she was doing. Whether as a high school homecoming queen nominee or as a TriDelt at her alma mater, others were drawn to her sparkle. 

It is a shared belief among most religions that humans are not up to the job, that left to our own devices we are broken, imperfect, and inadequate. In the lyrics of American saint Willie Nelson, “I may not be normal, but nobody is.”  It is no coincidence that we live in political climate in which the only thing we all still agree on is that the other side’s candidate is incompetent, a moral failure, and far too irrational to lead us. 

No matter how much brokenness and loss we see around us, the loss of life in today’s circumstances can make for a poison that is toxic to our happiness, mixing feelings of grief, guilt, anger, shame, relief for the end of another’s suffering, guilt for feeling relief, and incessant voices in our heads demanding to know “Why didn’t you…”, “What if we had…”, “If only someone…”, and “Why me…why us…why her?” 

There is nothing that can be undone and life is just unfair enough that even if everything everyone’s brain is saying could have been done differently actually had been done differently, we very well could be here at this same place, this same day, or perhaps even have been here years earlier. 

We cannot go back. The little man in our head that would try to take us backward to re-live, to ask what if, and why not–he is a liar and has no solutions or answers to offer. It’s ok to tell him to shut up. 

What about God? Those who give God credit for all the good in their lives at times like these naturally may blame God for the heartache as well. Whether one follows the God of the Old Testament–who still considered David his favorite in spite of their arguments–or the God of the New Testament who withstood Jesus’ doubts and second-guessing in the Garden of Gethsemane, your God can take it. 

You would not be the first to question, to doubt, even to curse God, and certainly not the last. Millions have before and millions will in the future, without any likelihood that God is surprised that people in loss are so angry and without any risk that God is going to run away to avoid having to hear it. 

Others who do not view the world through the lens of a Creator God may be equally disenchanted and disheartened, but have no direction in which to channel their anger. They may despair that “it is what it is.” That there is no better way, no better place, no room for grace. 

I remember when last time I was in this same city with you all, for our matriarch’s 90th birthday party. As far as I can tell none of us having gotten any younger. (Except maybe for Laura over there.)  

As we grieve the loss of Cindy today, look around. Someone else here may be the next person taken from us sooner than we planned, sooner than expected, before we have had time to say the healing things we wanted to say, to put petty slights behind us and move forward. 

In the end–whether a believer, agnostic, or atheist–it is all we really can do: look forward. Taking with us the memories that are happy, but leaving in this place all second-guessing. Whether of ourselves or others.  

When the little man in our head begs us to follow him back down the perilous path of what might have been, tell him simply, “It is finished.” 

Our time on this planet is a limited one and it grows more limited by the minute.

As British saints Paul and John cautioned us in their lyrics, “Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting my friend.” All we can do and what we must do is channel our grief, our anger, and all the other emotions, into creating more love among those that remain. 

Find a friend or family member with whom we nurse some grudge or bear some resentment, or whose Facebook posts drive us absolutely insane, and nonetheless choose to love them and be loved by them. In all our glorious imperfection. 

It drives that despicable little man in our head absolutely crazy. Which is ok. 

The 46th Psalm: 

       God is our hope and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved,  and though the hills be carried into the midst of the sea;

       Though the waters thereof rage and swell,  and though the mountains shake at the tempest of the same. 

       There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most Highest. God is in the midst of her, therefore shall she not be removed;  God shall help her, and that right early. 

       Be still then, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth. 

       The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. 

LET US PRAY: 

      GOD, whose days are without end, we are reminded of the shortness and uncertainty of life, deeply grieved by the loss of dear, precious Cindy. 

       We are angry that we have lost her so soon, at how much she suffered, and fear we will be forever scarred by our helplessness in the face of it all. 

      Grant us and Cindy that peace and rest that so often has escaped us. Rescue us from the might-have-beens, the should haves, and what ifs that threaten to entangle us and keep us drowned in grief.  

       Give us the strength to tell that detestable naysayer in the back of our brains to sit down and shut up. 

      Perhaps most difficult of all, we ask your assistance in turning our swords into plowshares, in fashioning grief that is a lump of coal, or worse, into a diamond–of greater love and friendship for those of us who remain. 

      Give us the humility and strength to embrace those around us with all the faults we know all too well they have, in the hope that friends and family can likewise hold their noses and embrace us in spite of what failed, unreliable, quirky, and impatient creatures they know us to be. 

      God of mercies and giver of comfort: deal graciously, we pray, with all those who mourn, that casting every care on you, they may know the consolation of your love.  

       Show us light in this great darkness, lead us to hope though we may swear that none exists, and grant us the peace that passes understanding that we may share it with others suffering around us. 

      Amen. 

—-
[Note: some of you who know me best may think that you have not heard me speak in these sorts of deeply religious tones for many years. I would respond that I believe in helping people to find comfort where they are, not where we might judge that they should be.]

The Great Email Melodrama

Whether you consider it Emailgate or merely “those damn emails,” the Hillary Clinton private server scandal has ended not with a bang but a whimper. It was laid to rest by FBI Director James Comey, though with some heavy-duty shaming along the way. Director Comey also is a former George W. Bush administration official whose fairness will be questioned only by those gullible enough to believe Santa Claus is secretly a member of the Illuminati.

Comey’s conclusion that “no reasonable prosecutor” would pursue criminal charges under these circumstances was as great a relief to the Clinton camp as it was a disappointment to Trump’s team (and, yes, to many in Bernie World). The FBI director’s findings were the equivalent of the difference between a Texan driving drunk versus texting while driving. Both are stupid and dangerous, but the former is always illegal; texting generally is prosecuted only after a crash.

As Comey intimated, the level of carelessness shown might get a federal employee disciplined or fired, or her security clearance yanked (which can in turn mean being fired), but not put in jail. Donald Trump frequently has — and will again — cite the situation of former CIA Director David Petraeus as someone treated more harshly than Hillary. Petraeus pleaded guilty to misdemeanor removal and retention of classified information, serving probation rather than jail time and paying a $100,000 fine.

The difference is this: Hillary and her staff were careless with classified information. They did the equivalent of leaving it sitting on a car seat while in the grocery store. Petraeus arguably traded sex for classified information — turning over notebooks of secret material to his mistress for her use in writing his biography. As with the Petraeus situation, there is no proof that classified information from Hillary’s emails with her staff reached our enemies, but Hillary’s situation did not open her to the risk of blackmail.

Though in other respects irrational, why Petraeus would break the law to help his mistress/biographer is not difficult to discern. Figuring out what Hillary was thinking would require many more layers of psychoanalysis. Was she so scarred from her husband’s scandals and the resulting scrutiny that she put perceived privacy above security? Or so technically illiterate (as some of her staff suggested) that she did not comprehend the significance of her actions? Her repeated claims about not sending material “marked as classified” is lawyerese at its worst.

Whatever the root cause, Clinton needs to figure it out, identify it to the voters and explain how the same character flaw will not cause more trouble in the future. The FBI’s findings must lead her to include more in her inner circle who are willing to challenge and question her decisions. As many people as knew of the private email server situation, surely at least one must have questioned it —but apparently not loudly enough or with enough pull to get her attention. I nominate Elizabeth Warren to play the not-easily-silenced-devil’s-advocate (and VP) role for Clinton.

A 2007 scandal over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys led to the discovery that presidential adviser Karl Rove and others used a private server for government business, with millions of emails having been “disappeared.” No jail time there either. So this is not the first chapter in the email scandal book, but please, dear leaders, let it be the last. As if we needed a final touch of irony for this Shakespearean-quality drama, Obama last week signed a law strengthening the Freedom of Information Act.

This originally appeared in the July 6, 2016 Waco Tribune-Herald.