In my last column, I looked at the election through the lens of the old children’s radio show Let’s Pretend — how things would look if it turned out that Donald Trump ends up winning the election.

That would have required lots of pretending until recently. Two weeks ago Hillary Clinton led Trump by 6 percent in the realclearpolitics.com average of recent polls. That lead is now 1.9 percent. RCP state polling averages then had Clinton ahead by 333 to 205 electoral votes. Now the margin is 273 to 265.

These numbers may overstate the closeness of the race. Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com, which weighs poll results by various factors, gives Trump a 31 percent chance of winning. Other polling websites peg his chances as significantly less.

But obviously something has changed. FBI Director James Comey’s announcement October 28 that the investigation into Clinton’s and her aide’s secret server emails was resuming undoubtedly contributed to it. And the race may already have been tightening following the announcement of what Trump might call yuuuuuge Obamacare premium increases.

After all, Clinton is seeking a third Democratic term, though the signature policies of the Democratic president — Obamacare, the Iran nuclear deal — have always been and remain unpopular.

The response to the Comey announcement of Team Clinton — which includes much of the Mainstream Media as well as the Clinton campaign — reeked of panic. They clearly didn’t see this coming.

The first response was to attack Comey for addressing his letter only to Republican members of Congress. In fact it was addressed, in line with typical Executive Branch practice, the appropriate committee members of both parties. An unforced error or, as the British would say, an own goal.

Then an attack on Comey for violating Justice Department “protocol” — a word used a dozen times by vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine in one interview.

But of course Team Clinton didn’t object to Comey for violating “protocol” on July 5 when he announced he wouldn’t recommend criminal charges against Clinton for violating email rules and lying repeatedly about it. He said “no rational prosecutor” would bring such a case, even though no rational judge would quash an indictment under Section 793(f) of the Espionage Act based on the facts he alleged.

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My theory is that Comey was placed in an impossible position by the June 27 Phoenix tarmac meeting between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, a meeting that was surely intended to be secret and which was revealed apparently because a TV reporter had a good source in the private jet terminal.

By meeting with the spouse of a candidate under criminal investigation, Lynch revealed herself to be a political hack. Justice Department refusal to summon a grand jury and sweetheart deals with key witnesses strengthen that view.

So Comey, head of an investigative agency, was obliged to make a decision that would ordinarily be made by a prosecutor. Like a local judge asked to enjoin a party’s national convention delegates, he evidently didn’t consider it his job to determine who should be a presidential nominee.

Team Clinton cheered that violation of “protocol.” The October 28 letter required a “1984”-style flip-flop: we have always been at war with the “protocol”-violating James Comey.

The Clinton/MSM repeated attacks on Comey for several days were out of the 1990s Clinton playbook. Attacks then worked when Bill Clinton was the incumbent president with high job approval. But Hillary Clinton isn’t the incumbent president and has sub-50 percent approval.

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“I thought if I cooperated with your investigation, my identity as a minor would be kept secret.”

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Did Team Clinton think that their candidate would win a contest over honesty and integrity with an FBI director they’d recently praised? That looks like political malpractice.

MSM members of Team Clinton chimed in with articles claiming Clinton was being criticized only because she is a woman — an absurdity, since the criticisms pertain to her specific acts. It’s a Clinton thing, not a female thing, to violate email rules and lie repeatedly about it.

In response Donald Trump uncharacteristically campaigned on substantive issues, rolling out an arguably serious plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Polls still show Clinton ahead. But by margins similar to the 2016 British polls showing Brexit losing and smaller than those in 2015 polls showing Conservatives wouldn’t win a majority in Parliament. Those elections came out the other way.

So maybe we’re in my Let’s Pretend world. If so, a Clinton loss would validate my old rule that nothing is free in politics; there is just some question about when you pay the price.

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