On Recounts And The Worms Of Corruptions

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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It begins with an apparently civic-minded suggestion.

We know our voting machines are subject to hacking. That’s not to say they were hacked, only that they could have been.

Hadn’t we better examine the votes in those three crucial states, to make sure no irregularities occurred?

This modest proposal comes not from the loser but from a third-party candidate who looks more like an honest broker. And – abracadabra! – the honest broker has funds at her disposal; enough to cover the considerable costs of the recounting procedure.

Then the losing candidate shows herself with an offer to join in the recounts. She says she has no thought of overturning the election result; only of seeing that all goes fairly and smoothly.

Local authorities agree to permit the recounts. Delegates of the major parties go to work. And then, somehow, the work goes very slowly; too slowly to make the electors’ meeting.

No one meant for this to happen. But now the recounts have thrown those crucial states into suspension, and the election which everyone thought was done is now undone.

How can this be fixed? A convenient means would be to welcome the losing candidate into the government – appoint her to an ambassadorship or some other position which would foster national unity and grant a modicum of political power.

Oh, and don’t forget to pay back the recount costs to the third-party candidate, so she too has a portion of her future assured.

Thus it happens that the worms of corruption insinuate themselves. The losing side’s charitable foundation, made moribund by its candidate’s defeat, springs gloriously back to life. The twelve-star hotels, the tax-free luxuries, his and her planes – all the furnishings of excess – are returned to their familiar places.

So is the greatest luxury of all: political power, the pretext and means of reigning over one’s fellow citizens.

Does it sound far-fetched? Actually we have seen it before. A small number of observers have seen it, at any rate. And the earlier situation had a major player in common with this one.

We are speaking of the defeated candidate herself: Hillary Clinton, who in the earlier drama was playing the role of U.S. secretary of state.

In November 2011, retired army general Otto Pérez had just been elected president of Guatemala when, with no prologue, a messy human-rights case emerged from 20 years of dormancy.

The president was given to see that he would face this old matter, and many others like it, unless he gave a piece of political power to his old enemies – the radicals against whom he had fought in the country’s armed conflict.

The major price he must pay was the retention of a holdover from the prior, left-leaning administration: an attorney general whom Pérez would surely have fired, given the choice.

But Secretary of State Clinton impressed on Pérez that he would have neither her cooperation, nor America’s, if he failed to keep Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz in office.

As it happened, Claudia Paz y Paz was Hillary Clinton’s protégée. More than that, Dr. Paz y Paz was not simply a radical; she was a radical’s radical.

Pérez did the deal. Paz y Paz continued undermining the country’s constitution; giving support to violent expropriations and supervising a reign of terror by militia gangs throughout the rural areas.

It got so bad that, in 2014, a commission of legal experts refused to endorse Paz y Paz for a second term – but not before Hillary Clinton, as a private citizen, had telephoned Pérez to tell him it was “very important´ to her that he re-appoint Paz y Paz.

After leaving the government, Paz y Paz got a soft landing. Hillary Clinton arranged for her to get a visiting scholar’s gig at Georgetown University.

President Pérez did not do so well. The U.S. embassy arranged for him to be charged with corruption. Pérez had to resign the presidency; he agreed to be taken into custody, where he remains today as he awaits trial.

That is what happened to the last president who did a deal with Hillary Clinton as a means of accommodating her radical allies. The Republican Party of the United States would be well advised not to make the same choice.

Mr. Trump, you have the right idea. The proposed recount is a scam. No one knows the situation better than you do. But please, no Mr. Nice Guy. In this case, the better part of valor is to divide, into many tiny pieces, the worm of corruption that is wending its way toward you.

David Landau, a DC contributor, has written often about Guatemala in his capacity as a journalist. Steve Hecht contributed to this article from Guatemala.