The last place -- and I do mean the very last place -- any candidate wants to be is in the frame with Anthony Weiner.
This is especially true if you're Hillary Clinton.
Even worse than being associated with the infamous sexter this week is being FBI Director James Comey, the least-envied man in America.
Not long ago, Comey was beloved by Democrats and reviled by Republicans for his decision not to recommend charges against Clinton, despite her extreme carelessness with a few classified documents through the use of her private email server. Today, he is vilified by Democrats and celebrated by Republicans for his disclosure to Congress that new emails possibly relevant to the agency's investigation have been found, of all places, on Weiner's laptop.
Politics, in other words, continues to happen.
Stepping back for the Republican long view, this isn't just a case of a wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin, possibly using her husband's laptop to send emails to her boss. This is a case of potentially classified documents pertaining to the secretary of state's business being found on the personal computer of an individual whose mental state is questionable. Even little-known Republican Vladimir Putin must be reaching for the Purell.
Oh, for the days of amateur burglars and profanity in the Oval.
No one seems to know what's in the emails, but this is beside the point to Republican minds. Perhaps more troubling still is the fact that FBI investigators apparently have known about these emails for several weeks, but didn't give Comey a full briefing until last week.
Despite being an inch away from Election Day, Comey decided to tell Congress about the "new" emails, probably in the interest of self-preservation. If he had waited until after the election, and the emails contained information that might have helped put Trump in the White House, then Republicans likely would have dropped a dead chicken on Comey's porch.
Yet, without knowing what's in the emails, Comey has created enough suspicion to potentially hurt Clinton's chances. Complicating matters, Comey allegedly expressed concern about fingering Russia for trying to influence American politics because of the election. But, he showed no such concern about the latest emails so close to Election Day. Double standard? Poor judgment?
Or, is it can't win for losing? Unlike the orangutan swinging from the chandelier and singing, "Winning, winning, winning!" Donald Trump is the happiest (alleged) crotch-grabber on the continent. Depending on the poll, he's either ahead by a point, tied, consistently below Clinton or, if you average them all together, a mere four points behind the pantsuited lady in red.
Here he was only a few days shy of calling the election rigged and, voila (or however you say it in Russian), here comes another batch of email - and ypa! - on Weiner's laptop to boot. Further gratifying was that Trump long ago aired concerns about Abedin sharing state secrets with her husband.
Whether the contents of those emails are of any importance remains to be seen, though apparently not until after the election. And, lest Trumpsters spit their tobacco on my cute shoes, let the record show that Trump only (beg ital)said(end ital) his celebrity entitled him to seize women's nethers, but he obviously thought it was a fine thing to say.
Also, one cannot fail to note that in the minds of many millions, there are worse things.
One worse thing is the very idea of Weiner perusing his wife's and Clinton's correspondence, imaginably during a break from making a Snapchat of his own nethers.
Substantively, it may mean nothing, but Weiner offends diseases. Adultery is one thing. Having illicit thoughts, as Jimmy Carter once confessed to Playboy magazine, is almost adorable. But exposing yourself to women in the juvenile pursuit of virtual titillation crosses a line.
The subliminal effect of a Clinton-Weiner connection falls into the category of worst-case scenarios, not least because it triggers memories that lead inevitably to her own "connoiterer-in chief." And to think, all Hillary ever wanted was to save women and children from men such as these.
Ironically, the man she replaced in the Senate, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was foreshadowing today's rock bottom when he observed that America was defining deviancy down. Though it would be unfair to lump Hillary Clinton with the rest of this bunch, it has never been truer that you are judged by the company you keep.
For her forbearance, as well as her lack of forthrightness, losing on Election Day 2016 could be Hillary's ultimate Trump-up-Pence.
Kathleen Parker's email address is email@example.com.
(c) 2016, Washington Post Writers Group