On Hillary’s e-mails the battle grows heated
Which ones were private? And which were deleted?
I wonder will this be a major disaster,
Or just disappear, as it came, only faster.
She had still not declared her candidacy in the 2016 presidential election. But here was Hillary Clinton, in crisis mode, once again facing a barrage of critical media questions. In a blog last June I had reviewed her hapless efforts to explain why, despite the very substantial fortunes acquired by the Clintons since they left the White House, they should not be considered really rich. This time the problem revealed by the New York Times was that, as Secretary of State, she did not preserve her official e-mail correspondence on a government server but kept it on a private server along with personal messages. Though she now insisted: “I want the public to see my emails”, and had asked the State Department to review the messages and make available those which were official and not secret, the clamor did not die down.
A satirical explosion followed. Almost every syndicated cartoonist weighed in. Some reminded us of Bill covering up the truth, others of Nixon. Hillary was depicted reading the government regulations of e-mails and pressing the delete key, or eliminating any references to unsavory foreign donors to the Clinton foundations.
On television Jon Stewart, to the great delight of conservative commentators, expressed shock at the news that Clinton had deleted 30,000 personal e-mails, and that the task of separating the remaining personal from the official has been handing over to “Let me guess who you chose to handle that delicate job” – her counsel. And Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live insisted that the private account was “just for fun woman talk” and that her Netflix account was totally clean, though she’d been binging on “House of Cards,”
Then there were the on-line and newspaper wordsmiths. According to The Onion “Clinton is showing voters that she’s ready and willing to circumvent regulations in order to keep American in the dark on important issues and prevent anyone from uncovering potentially incriminating evidence. This is definitely the most unambiguous declaration of her intentions at a presidential run.”
Andy Borowitz in The New Yorker cited a poll complaining that this scandal was simply not up to the sordidness and sleaze standards that the Clintons had established in the past.
But harshest of all was the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. In an open letter to Hillary’s e-mail she drew attention to “two features of our democracy. The importance of historical records and the ill-advised gluttony of an American feminist icon wallowing in regressive Middle Eastern states’ payola.” And “keeping a single account mingling business and personal with your own secret server wasn’t about ‘convenience’. It was about expedience.” As for her assurance that “I want the public to see my email…less true words were never spoken.” All in all: “The Clintons don’t sparkle with honesty and openness. Between his lordly appetites and her queenly prerogatives, you always feel as if there’s something afoot.” Even Obama, a frequent target of Dowd’s ire, comes off favorably when compared to Hillary: “No Drama Obama and his advisors are clearly appalled to be drawn into your shadowy shenanigans, just as Al Gore once was.”
Dowd’s fellow New York Times columnist, Gail Collins, while not as scathing as Dowd, insists that Hillary waited too long to respond to the allegations, and then “Held a chaotic press conference at the United Nations next to a big tapestry version of Picasso’s Guernica”, which has to be the worst possible imagery you want to be associated with when you’re trying to tell the nation that everything’s hunky-dory.” Collins does not hope for a dramatically transformed “new Hillary. What voters can hope for is the best possible version of her flawed self.”
But does all this media furor over Hillary’s e-mail really matter? A David Horsey cartoon presents us with “Words that will not be heard on election day: I’m not voting for Hilary. I don’t like how she managed her e-mail.”
Probably true. However, the spotlight is now on the content of the e-mails. Assuming some are available in the next year or so, will they reveal anything that could be substantially damaging? Republicans are still hoping something will turn up to support their obsession with Benghazi. And on the left there will be worries about her hawkish tendencies: nothing as damaging as her vote on Iraq that cost her the nomination in 2008, but enough to provide critics with ammunition, and satirists with delectable targets.