Quotes of the day

Hillary Clinton’s troubles are costing her politically, as potential Republican presidential rivals have inched closer to her in 2016 matchups, a new McClatchy-Marist poll found Friday.

The former secretary of state fell below the crucial 50 percent level of support in one-on-one matchups against Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker, and she was barely above that benchmark against Rand Paul, Rick Perry and Ted Cruz…

Clinton was first dogged by reports last month about millions of dollars her family’s foundation has received from donors based in foreign countries. Monday, the second day of the polling, The New York Times reported that Clinton had used a personal email server to conduct government business while secretary of state…

Experts consider a drop below 50 percent a danger sign for well-known candidates. It suggests that more than half the electorate has judged them and is looking elsewhere.


Later, [State Department spokesman Marie] Harf compared Clinton’s production of emails to the process by which the State Department answers Freedom of Information Act requests. According to Harf, State depends on the official involved to give everything to the office that answers FOIA requests. But reporters wanted to know: Is there any way to check whether the employee has handed everything over?…

Harf says officials have all of Clinton’s emails but concedes that she doesn’t actually know for sure that officials have all of Clinton’s emails. And that it is Clinton’s responsibility, not the State Department’s, to make sure that State has all of her emails. And that the department relies on employees to produce their own emails, although she will not get into whether the department “always” operates that way.

Which points to a larger problem in the Clinton email affair. Everything we know about it — or everything we think we know about it — comes from Hillary Clinton. Day after day, Harf has attempted to pass along information from the Clinton camp as fact, only to concede that she doesn’t really know if it is fact or not. The State Department’s official position appears to be to trust Clinton while admitting that they have no way to know whether that trust is justified. Is that a good way to find out what really happened?


“This is like the Nixon tapes, in a sense,” said Ken Khachigian, who was a young speechwriter on Nixon’s White House staff and is now a grizzled veteran of California’s Republican political wars. “Everybody wanted access. We resisted, and then they were eked out in death by a thousand cuts. Finally they were expropriated and now belong to the archives.”

“In some ways, this is no different,” he added. “But Nixon’s motivation was to record history, frankly. Her motivation was to control history. It’s obvious that she was wary of having her fate in the hands of other people, and it just underscores the secretiveness that she’s had for years, and how wary she is, looking over her shoulder.”…

What Clinton does share with Nixon is that she, too, is “a serial collector of resentments,” as Nixon chronicler Rick Perlstein described the 37th president in his 2008 book, “Nixonland.” Whether complaining as the wife of the Arkansas governor that her family couldn’t have a swimming pool like “normal people,” or saying last summer that she and her husband were “broke” with legal bills when they left the White House, she has come by her grievances the hard way, and worn them on her sleeve…

The real damage from the email controversy may lie less in any specific embarrassing revelations (though if history is any guide, there are bound to be some) than in the seeming proof that the aspect of Clinton’s personality that is suspicious, defensive, contemptuous of the press and scornful of political adversaries will never change. Such traits have hurt her repeatedly in the past, and could well do so again, despite the protestations of her staff-in-formation that she has learned her lessons and will approach her next campaign differently than her last one.


Recall, for example, Bill and Hillary looting the White House, during the last days of his presidency, sending $28,000 of furnishings, registered to the National Park Service, to their New York home before they had to depart the place. Or there was Hillary piously announcing that the Clintons, after they left the White House, were “dead broke”—even though she had just signed an $8 million book deal.

The Clintons, in other words, don’t get caught up in difficulties. They are surrounded by a miasma of scandal, both real and imagined. The latest one was broken by the New York Times and is engulfing the nascent Clinton presidential campaign, just as it was trying to deal with one broken a few days earlier by the Washington Post about allegations of malversation at the Clinton Foundation. In short, the new Hillary turns out to be the old one, and not a few Democrats are suffering their personal political version of PTSD over it all…

Still, the question of what she was trying to conceal exists because of her own furtiveness. As Sam Tanenhaus pointed out at a luncheon at the Center for the National Interest on Wednesday, historians rely on a reliable and accurate record of documents such as the State Department’s distinguished Foreign Relations of the United States series. Clinton’s actions violate both the spirit and letter of the law that cabinet officials leave behind a clear and comprehensible documentary record.


She put the nation’s sensitive information at risk because, once again, it served her own purposes. This is not about missing the fine print on some government regulations or even about paranoia; it is about a politician who cannot be trusted to put the public’s well-being above her own. That, after all, is the very essence of corruption.

Democrats still cling to the notion she is not only an acceptable presidential nominee but the only one, the inevitable one, the too-big-to-fail one. With each reminder that the Clintons subvert the public trust, compromise the public’s interests and profit at our expense at the drop of a hat, the inevitability or even suitability argument becomes all the more unconvincing…

And in that spirit, Republicans should count their lucky stars this all came to light before the Clinton machine was revved up and prepared to combat accusations and discredit their accusers. They should be thrilled the already cynical, disgusted voters know up-front what they would be getting with “The Clintons: The Sequel.” And Republicans should feel vindicated that despite all this, the liberal media still will gladly receive and broadcast Clinton’s smears against Republicans, sing her praises and do everything in their power to carry her into office. Could there be any better proof of the moral bankruptcy of liberal elites? The “vast right-wing conspiracy” could never have come up with this one on its own.


The larger problem for Clinton, though, is not the likelihood that her emails will turn up incriminating evidence. It is what this episode reveals about her political judgment and managerial acumen. Last year, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush wrote a deeply reported and highly revealing account of Clinton’s deep terror of the news media. Their fear of hostile news media, borne out of genuinely traumatic ’90s-era experiences in which right-wing pseudo-media drove the mainstream news agenda, left the Clintons paralyzed by suspicion of the press. They are reflexively insular. Their suspicion creates problems where none need exist.

This revives the larger question of whether Clinton is capable of managing a competent campaign (and thus, in turn, a competent administration)

Now, it is possible that the new Clinton campaign (and prospective administration) will function at a higher level. Clinton has brought on well-regarded Democratic advisers like John Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri, who have built successful reputations for the Democratic Party rather than attaching themselves completely to the Clintons. It is plausible that they can impose some order and rationality onto the Clinton operation. The dangerous scenario is that they will not; that the Clintons will continue to retreat into their insular and dysfunctional shell, surrounded by often-feuding and ineffective personal loyalists. Or, worse, that even competent advisers won’t be able to spare the Clintons from chronic bad judgment.


Indeed, why her whole lackadaisical attitude so far about her emails?

The answer is that while reporters operate in insect time, buzzing over facts and queries that may have a life of hours, days, or weeks before expiring in a natural death, the Clintons operate in geological time. She and her campaign staff have a 20-month-long runway in front of them, and like a glacier they will patiently grind their opponents into gravel by applying time and pressure. In the Clinton team’s Machiavellian view, directly responding to the press corps’ questions on the press corps’ timetable will only give greater longevity to the story. The longer Hillary Clinton sits tight and allows the email collection and vetting “process” to work in the background, issuing assurances that she’s now in complete compliance, the better off she will be. The press insects will lose interest and move on to other, more juicy sources of meat. A reporter can’t write something about nothing very many times before editors and readers rebel…

One would think that with the constant state of war that team Clinton wages against the press would exhaust them. But in the Nietzschean manner, it only seems to make them stronger. Team Clinton has adapted to predation by the press over the past two decades and learned that no price need be paid for conduct, stonewalling, or lies.


At midnight last night, I posted a story that a friend of mine, a diplomat tipped me off, not an American diplomat, interestingly enough, but a non-U.S. diplomat, about how the American ambassador to Kenya was fired just three years ago during Hillary’s term for precisely this, for using commercial email systems instead of secure government ones for official business. Hillary Clinton’s State Department fired the U.S. ambassador for Kenya for doing that in 2012. The story’s now been picked up by the Weekly Standard and Drudge and people, and I’m glad, I’m very glad of that, because I think it actually gets to the heart of the matter here, is that this country is decaying from a republic into a banana republic where if you’re an inconsequential person, the rules apply to you. But if you’re a select few, at the Hillary Clinton level, then the laws and the rules don’t apply. This should be a disqualifier. She essentially freelanced, and presumably with the knowledge of the President and other people, she essentially, in defiance of the law, she essentially freelanced an entire cabinet department to Clinton HQ for four years…

I’m mired in some tedious court battle over global warming in the District of Columbia at the moment. So I know how these things work. If your regular government email, that is to say your [email protected], your emails are part of the public record and can be easily accessed under Freedom of Information Act. If they’re part of some private thing and people, and somebody requests them, you have to go to court and then somebody files an interlocutory appeal, and then it’s being heard for the next three years. And by the time there’s any decision comes down, you’re three-quarters of the way through your first term. That’s why she did it. That’s why she did it. And that is what is so repugnant about it, that you have all these rules, you have all these laws. Everything is quite explicit here. Nobody’s saying it’s about codes of behavior and conventions the way it is in Canada or the United Kingdom or whatever. It’s all written down explicitly here. And she says sit down, it doesn’t matter.


If you treat IRS rules the way the IRS treats IRS rules, you go to prison; if you treat federal law the way the secretary of state does, you go to prison. If you treat immigration controls the way our immigration authorities do, you go to prison. If you’re as careless in your handling of firearms as the ATF is, you go to prison. You cook your business’s books the way the federal government cooks its books, you go to prison.

Hillary Clinton is not going to prison. She’s going to release whatever emails she feels like releasing and dare any of you peons or your elected representatives to try to make her do otherwise. You’ll take what she offers, and you’ll like it.

The perverse thing is: Some do like it. The Clinton name remains golden among Democrats.

A self-respecting people would have sent this clan of scrofulous grifters and po-faced con artists into whatever passes for exile (comfortable exile, of course) in the 21st century. Instead, we are giving them a serious shot at a return to the White House.


Via the Weekly Standard.