The conversation is apparently over: America no longer cares about Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“Let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think that the secretary is right. And that is that the American public is sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” Bernie Sanders said during Tuesday night’s Democratic Presidential debate.
But is he right?
It’s obvious that Clinton herself is sick of talking about it. She has displayed visible annoyance during interviews when she is asked about them, and infuriated many when she gave a cheeky response about wiping her server with a cloth at a press conference back in August.
Her personal annoyances aside, it’s taken a significant toll on her campaign. Her poll numbers have slumped considerably since the news broke about her unsecured email account. It seems the tide of public opinion may have turned against her when Barack Obama threw her under the bus last week by calling her decision to use an unsecured, private, email account during her tenure as secretary of State a “mistake.”
She recently confided in a friend that the attention her emails were getting kept the news cycle away from her talking points, according to Politico:
“On the one hand, I feel like I’m rolling out a lot of substantive programs on issues that people care about. We’re getting one day’s news coverage. But there’s nothing larger knitting it together. We’re not breaking through. And my team needs to get their act together on the email response.”
Her supporters and fellow Democrats are probably sick of hearing about it, too. After Sanders voiced his irritation at those “damn emails,” the debate crowd erupted into wild applause and gave him a standing ovation. Clinton beamed, thanked him repeatedly, and shook his hand emphatically.
It makes sense that the crowd at last night’s debate applauded Sander’s comment to put the conversation to bed, because they agree with him. They actually do not care about her email server or the trove of classified information she made vulnerable while working at the State Department. While his remark shut down the topic during last night’s debate, it may have actually acted as a Trojan Horse. Immediately after Sanders’s comment, Google searches for Clinton’s emails spiked.
While the surge definitely seemed to be short lived, there remains a slight uptick in the number of searches for her emails today that’s higher than where it was yesterday. Sanders’s response was truly brilliant. He won the room while still managing to cast the spotlight, however temporarily, onto a scandal that could still sink her ship.
Ultimately The Story Isn’t Over
If there’s one thing we know about Clinton’s email scandal, it’s that it keeps getting slowly worse and worse. She has recently said herself that the “drip-drip-drip” nature of it has made it difficult to move past. Every new development in the investigation highlights numerous oddities. A new batch of emails reveals her geriatric, clingy tendencies. New information about the IT company was that housed her server alludes to rampant nepotism that plagued many of her decisions.
So while Sanders’ comment certainly resonated with the Democratic crowd, the rest of the world may not be sick of hearing about the new developments in her email scandal. Regardless of American’s attitudes, there are more developments to come. The Congressional investigation into how Clinton handled the Benghazi tragedy, which has included an investigation of her email server, continues. Clinton is scheduled to testify again before Congress on Oct. 22, where she will undoubtedly be forced to answer more questions about her emails.
Recently, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made a huge gaffe when he admitted that a motivating factor behind the Benghazi inquiry was political, and designed to hurt Clinton’s campaign. His comments, however, don’t undo the fact that Clinton violated federal policy and disseminated classified information from her personal email account, putting government secrets at risk. Past history also stacks against her, as many others have been prosecuted for the same crime, including General David Petraeus who kept notebooks of classified information at his home.
So while Democratic voters can continue to roll their eyes at the news coverage surrounding Clinton’s emails, the ramifications of her actions have yet to hit the fan. There are plenty of upcoming developments in the story that could continue to keep the news cycle away from favorable aspects of her campaign. Despite Sanders’ insistence that her emails are boring, they could still be what sinks her — especially if he keeps reminding us about how tired we are of hearing about them.