Donald Trump will be president because James Comey and Loretta Lynch were scared

This is the dreadful power of the Republican outrage machine

The twosome let fear get the best of them.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Both sides in American politics tend to believe that their opponents are less principled and more ruthless than they themselves are, willing to do anything in furtherance of their nefarious goals. We might disagree about which side is right on that score, but there's no doubt about who's more effective in the strategic deployment of a critical political tool: outrage. Republicans have honed it to a fine art, and there's no better evidence than the fear right-wing outrage inspires in Democrats, the media, and even Republicans themselves.

If you think all that shouting at the cameras and into talk-radio microphones is just sound and fury, let me refer you to this inside account in The Washington Post of the decision-making that led to FBI Director James Comey sending congressional Republicans a letter, nine days before the election, informing them that the FBI had some of Hillary Clinton's emails it was going to look at. Comey's letter — which, it has become increasingly clear, put Donald Trump in the White House — was the product of fear, specifically fear of the conservative outrage machine. And the one person who could have stopped him, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, stood down and let it happen, for exactly the same reason.

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Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a senior writer with The American Prospect magazine and a blogger for The Washington Post. His writing has appeared in dozens of newspapers, magazines, and web sites, and he is the author or co-author of four books on media and politics.