Once again, they had worked themselves into a glorious lather, believing that this time they finally had her within their grasp. Once again, they convinced themselves that in Anthony Weiner's laptop they finally had evidence to substantiate their claims of Hillary Clinton's criminality ... and once again the GOP has ended up with armfuls of nothing.
As FBI Director James Comey announced Sunday, the 650,000 recovered emails that Donald Trump claimed would be bigger than Watergate, that Newt Gingrich hailed as 50 times bigger than Watergate, have now joined Vince Foster's "murder," Bill Clinton's Arkansas coke-smuggling operation and the non-existent "stand-down order" at Benghazi on the long, long list of alleged Clinton scandals that turned out to be nothing more than the product of overheated conservative imaginations.
And if the pattern holds -- which history says it will -- Clinton's most recent exoneration will result in yet another spasm of right-wing frustration and hatred and certainty that she is the biggest unpunished criminal of the 20th and 21st century. They will seethe at her cleverness and their own ineptness, at the rigged nature of a world that denies them what they believe is theirs, because even if their conviction of her guilt is the only conviction they will ever get, it is also the only conviction that they need.
But on the eve of Election Day, I think it's important that we take a step back and appreciate what has happened here. Thanks to a combination of Wikileaks, Vladimir Putin, Congress, the FBI, FOIA and Clinton's own admittedly numb-skulled decision to set up her own private email system, we have been granted a thorough and unprecedented tour of the internal workings of the Clinton political operation. We've seen the internal emails of the Democratic National Committee, the personal emails of her campaign chairman, the personal and work emails of Clinton and her closest staff, from Huma Abedin to Cheryl Mills, the internal emails of the Clinton Foundation, including those of her daughter Chelsea.
And out of those millions of emails, many of them written with no expectation that they could ever become public, we have found zero evidence of corruption, zero evidence of the alleged "pay to play" system that Republicans are certain existed. Never in American history have we witnessed a more thorough public vetting of a major political operation , and while the unprecedented exposure has produced embarrassments for some, as would be expected, the absence of evidence for wrongdoing is actually pretty striking.
What might the 22 million emails illegally put on private servers and "lost" by the Bush White House have revealed? What would equivalent emails from the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign have revealed? We will never know. But we do know what evidence of corruption and criminality has emerged from the Clinton camp.
Now go vote.