With only 20 months to go until the 2016 presidential election, the (as yet unannounced) Hillary Clinton campaign was rocked by the biggest scandal since Abu Ghraib. Or it barely had its hair mussed by a trumped-up charge of something that’s not even illegal. One of the two, depending on where you get your news.
It seems Mrs. Clinton conducted all of her correspondence during her tenure as Secretary of State (2009-2013) through her own private domain, @clintonemail.com, routed through a private email server, rather than a .gov address routed through government servers, which raises an awful lot of questions about her transparency (it seems it would be very easy to omit anything unflattering or untoward from the public record if you have sole control of those records), her compliance with the law (all government employees are required to conduct business on official .gov accounts), and her competence (if National Security is the first item on your job description, it seems awfully risky to take your own cyber-security into your own hands).
But wait! Democrats are insisting that this is no big deal at all, because all previous Secretaries of State also used their private email accounts to do official business! And the law mandating that all government correspondence go through official servers wasn’t enacted until Clinton was out of office! And she just turned over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department!
This may or may not affect Clinton’s chances in 2016, but it’s a perfect demonstration of how completely fucked American democracy is in the 21st century and I’m giving up and going to live among island natives and subsist on rainwater and seaweed.
Republicans are completely livid about this, saying that it points to an ongoing tendency on the part of the Clintons to work the angles, to be overly secretive, to place themselves above the law, and to put their own privacy and welfare above that of the country. And I would be sympathetic to those arguments, except that I remember a time not so long ago that the Bush Administration got caught using a custom email system with @gwb43.com domains, routed through Republican National Committee servers — in other words, the exact same thing Clinton seems to have done. Where were all these shrieking Republicans then? To be fair, the @gwb43.com revelations were dwarfed by the larger matter that brought them to light (the political firings of U.S. Attorneys), but the whole thing was waved away as routine, business as usual. The same thing happened when it came out that Sarah Palin had used her Yahoo! email account to conduct business as governor of Alaska; Republicans just shrugged.
Not that Democrats are any better; they howled in outrage about both firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com as they were happening, which in turn makes all their shrugging and “it’s not even illegal” and “you’re all just out to get Hillary” and “everyone else did it too” ring hollower than the Tin Man’s chestplate.
Though I tend to vote for Democrats in presidential elections, and I don’t have anything against Hillary Clinton (she seems like a nice enough lady) the idea of another Bush against another Clinton makes my skin crawl. I really don’t know what Hillary Clinton stands for other than wanting to be president. But most of all, Republicans’ insane, all-consuming hatred of this person is worse than that of her husband and Obama put together and multiplied by ten; the gridlock and obstruction and general atmosphere of half of America hating the other half that would accompany a third Clinton inauguration (or, for that matter, a fourth Bush inauguration) is too depressing to contemplate. I know that is the likely result of the 2016 election no matter who wins, but let’s face it: if it’s Hillary Clinton it’s a little more likely.
Even if it wasn’t illegal, even if it wasn’t unethical, even if she had this server set up to be more secure than anything the government would have provided her — a scenario I find perfectly plausible considering the shit she has been through — the simple fact is that using a private email server makes it look like she has something to hide, and this news guarantees another year of Benghazi hearings, just when it looked like we could finally get past that non-scandal.
Sometimes the appearance of impropriety is just as bad as actual impropriety, and this is one of those times. Mrs. Clinton has been around long enough to know better than to make a rookie mistake like this. She’s opened herself up to the attacks that are now raining down on her, and she deserves them, even if she’s not hiding anything.
Because let’s face it: building your own email server in the basement of your home, out of the reach of the Freedom Of Information Act or anything else, is some straight up Cheney shit, and the fact that a Democrat did it this time, or that someone else did it before, should not change that. This person agrees:
It’s starting to feel like news stories should break with the names redacted:
______________ used a private email server during h__ tenure in President ________’s administration, evading Federal record-keeping requirements and raising questions of transparency and national security. Blah blah blah.
For the first week after these stories break, people can give their honest reaction to the person’s actions and their legality or illegality, rather than working backward from someone’s party affiliation to decide how they feel about it.
It’s sad that this is what it’s come to, and it’s disheartening that it’s hard to tell if anyone actually cares about anything they’re screaming about; I tend to assume they don’t. Instead every big story is just a political Rorschach test, where people see whatever it is they want to see, depending on whether the inkblot is red or blue.