Hillary Clinton will reportedly address the controversy over her private account while at the State Department today. The framing of the Clinton email/pay-to-play scandal, though, is proceeding as expected. We’ve gone from pretending the offense is nothing to pretending it’s nothing more than a “self-inflicted wound” – a problem of faulty decision-making rather premeditated misconduct. For many, this isn’t about corruption, it’s about the Clinton’s personal peccadillos – laziness, an abundance of caution, and inherent need to help others no matter what the consequences.
Dems, @PaulBegala, should give a fart about corner-cutting and secrecy that turns off voters, that makes them not give a fart about gov’t
— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) March 7, 2015
Even Ron Fournier, a critic of Clintons’ behavior – one who feels compelled to tell us how much he likes the former first couple; but a critic nonetheless –implies that Hillary’s aversion to transparency is a personal failing that can be fixed if Hillary would just do the right thing: return all the money and release all the emails. It can’t.
Focusing on Clinton personal indulgences – “entitlement, outsized victimization, and an aggravating belief in the ends justifying the means” – is fine, but if anyone else had done the same the focus would be the potential corruption not the emotional troubles of the subject. “Corner-cutting,” at least as I understand the term, suggests that someone is making an effort to save money, or find easier ways to accomplish a difficult task. How is setting up a private account exclusively for official business as secretary of state – on an Internet server registered to your home in Chappaqua – easier than using a government provided email server?
Unless Fournier means that building a fiefdom within government to conduct business in the dark is easier. Then yes.
Now, if the Clintons aren’t lazy, perhaps they’re just too vigilant, as The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank writes, in his awe-shucks-Hillary-made-another-mistake column this week:
This week’s revelation that she used only private e-mail to conduct her public business as secretary of state is not a knockout blow to the likely Democratic presidential nominee; she has weathered worse. But it is a needless, self-inflicted wound, and it stems from the same flaws that have caused Clinton trouble in the past — terminal caution and its cousin, obsessive secrecy.
Hillary Clinton, too cautious for her own good. It’s probably why her staff printed out and snail-mailed over 50,000 pages of emails instead of simply sending them electronically. Perhaps it’s terminal caution and obsessive secrecy that triggers that sort of behavior? Here’s how Todd S. Purdum over at POLITICO put it:
Not even Clinton’s harshest critics could claim that Servergate (or Chappaquadata, or whatever it may come to be called) constitutes a high crime or misdemeanor. But it does connote a reflexive wariness about her enemies—a wariness that sometimes seems to border on paranoia—that has long dogged Clinton …
(Actually, how would anyone know if there is a high crime or not? One imagines it wouldn’t rise to that level, but shouldn’t investigations be conducted before we file this away as another Clinton oopsie?)
You will notice that it’s the paranoia that dogs both Clintons, poor kids. Paranoia is a thought process that is propelled by anxiety and fear that can drive people to a point of irrationality and delusion. What use of “paranoia” implies is that the Clintons have some delusion need for secrecy. But actually, they may very well have a genuine one. If those emails were linked to any effort to enrich her foundation it would signify that she was careful. Not paranoid. The Clintons don’t need psychoanalysis, they need more lawyers.
Taking Saudi money and then spending it on women’s empowerment could also be seen as a kind of elegant f.u. to a repressive regime.
— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) March 9, 2015
But not so much elegant, as a streamlined f.u. to American voters. But let’s put aside the more serious implication of a pay-for-play scandal – should it exist. The idea that the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation accepted tens of millions of dollars in donations from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Algeria because they couldn’t fight the compulsion to help others is not only a stretch, but also irrelevant. The State Department –a place Hillary ran when her family foundation was taking this money – has detailed the many human-rights violations these countries have engaged in. It’s laughable to believe they could care less where that money was being ineffectively spent.
The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation is a political outfit. It bears Hillary’s name today for a reason. We can only guess how many times she planned on bringing up the good work of this foundation during her campaign as a way to bolster that thin resume.
If the Clintons returned the money and released the emails now, it would likely be enough for a political fix. But what certitude would anyone have that important emails weren’t missing? Of course, Hillary will only have acquiesced after she failed to ask the State department for permission, after the story broke, and after the pressure mounted. This is not exactly authentic, for one thing, and it certainly doesn’t tell us the sorts of things a congressional hearing and subpoenas might. That’s the real fix. Because the Clintons are back.