Among other things, it printed more than two million posters with the slogan “Keep calm and carry on.”
Although they were never issued, copies are available wherever good refrigerator magnets are sold.
That slogan is apt today for those of us in the former colonies facing our own existential crisis — the presidential candidacy of a man with no more respect for the basic values of democracy than the bigoted demagogue and pathological liar who menaced Europe in 1939.
The big October surprise turns out not to come from Donald Trump‘s old buddy at the Kremlin but from his newfound pal at the J. Edgar Hoover building. Yet not even Hoover dared to meddle in an election like James Comey just did. It could not have come at a better time for Trump or a worse time for the nation.
Even so, the thing to do is to keep calm and carry on. This election will be decided by the turnout. Vote early — but not often, as some Trump supporters have been caught doing — and make sure that your like-minded friends and neighbors do. Florida is once again critical. Let 2000 be only past, not prologue, Comey conceded that he had no idea what’s in those newly discovered emails. For all he or anyone else knows, they could be copies of ones the FBI saw long ago.
Most people, I think, can see the FBI director’s misconduct as a pitiful attempt to cover his butt with Trump and other Republicans who had been trashing him relentlessly because he found no criminal offense in Hillary Clinton‘s emails.
In an op-ed entitled “Working the Refs,”— an allusion to athletes and coaches who try to intimidate game officials — New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said “it looks as if he (Comey) tried to buy them off by throwing them a bone just a few days before the election.”
A deeper question than what’s in those emails is the one Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid put to Comey: What does the FBI know — and isn’t saying — about specific links between Trump’s campaign and Vladimir Putin?
Reid’s letter implied strongly he and other Senate leaders, including Republicans, know what the FBI knows and that it is “explosive information.” Only the FBI can release it.
“The public has a right to know this information,” Reid told Comey. “I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it.”
The real danger to American interests would be keeping Trump’s Putin connection secret even as Comey tries to sabotage his opponent’s campaign.
Meanwhile, a week remains to keep calm and carry on. And that means taking the opinion polls as much as for what they aren’t as for what they are.
The paranoid candidate might actually be right about some of the opinion polls being rigged, but if so, it would be his supporters who are doing it. It’s well-known that some people are embarrassed to admit, even anonymously to pollsters, that they support racist candidates. This was a factor in Sen. Jesse Helms‘s unexpected victory over a black challenger, Harvey Gantt, in 1990.
Anyone voting for Trump should be embarrassed to say so. The man’s bigotry, immorality, sexism, boorishness, ignorance, untruthfulness, dishonesty, recklessness, and sheer incompetence are staggering. To admit to voting for him is to say that, whatever the pretext, you don’t mind disgracing the presidency, the nation, and yourself. And that you don’t mind entrusting the Oval Office to the most dangerous man who has ever sought it.
The polls could also be overstating his support. As the Washington Monthly’s Martin Longman points out, there are women “who aren’t telling their husbands that they’ll be voting for Clinton.” Would they be honest with a pollster “if their husband is sitting next to them on the couch?”
The two factors could balance each other out. Or they might not. We’ll know next Tuesday night.
Keep calm and carry on. And may God save the United States.
Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the newspaper now known as the Tampa Bay Times. He lives in suburban Asheville, North Carolina.