Honestly, it may be their best remaining play. They can’t claim that private e-mail is good practice when the State Department itself is on record as saying it isn’t. They can’t claim that it’s basically as secure as government e-mail when even lefty sites are reporting that that’s wildly untrue. On the merits, in terms of national security and as evidence of the creepy lengths to which President Claire Underwood will go in the name of evading accountability, it’s a total disaster.
The only move left on this chessboard is to ignore all that and simply insist that voters won’t care regardless. That’s not untrue, but it’s revealing that this is what Team Blue has been reduced to arguing.
Clinton supporters have pushed back against the media and Republicans, waving off the stories as yet another Twitter-fueled much-ado-about-nothing that has little resonance with the typical voter beyond Washington.
“Voters do not give a sh-t about what email Hillary used,” said Democratic strategist Paul Begala, a longtime Clinton ally and CNN contributor. “They don’t even give a fart.”
But if regular voters aren’t paying attention, the Democratic power brokers who hold sway over the nomination process in key states — the legislators, local party chairmen and plugged-in activists — most definitely are. The questions some of them are raising are less about the specifics of the stories and more about the long-established narratives they feed: That the secretive Clintons, enabled by unquestioning loyalists, play by their own rules.
“The questions relating to Hillary are more about, are we tired of the same old thing?” asked one prominent Democratic state Senator in South Carolina who wished to remain anonymous.
Is that Begala stating a political fact? Trying to reassure Democratic establishmentarians who are already weary at the thought of another four years of scandal? Or nervously trying to reassure himself because even he isn’t sure at this point how bad this might get? There’s a small but nonzero chance, I think, that foreign hackers might capitalize on the media attention by dribbling a few purloined Hillary e-mails onto the Internet to embarrass her. Nothing too embarrassing — why waste your strongest hand now when you could play it for maximum advantage after she’s president and in a position to make concessions? — but maybe just a little something to screw with America’s head about what else might be out there. That’s the only way this becomes a real political liability for her. Hard proof that her e-mail was accessed when stories are swirling about how lax her cybersecurity was would be a gut punch to her credibility on national security.
As for the “who gives a sh*t?” approach, it’s not just Begala who’s pushing that line, of course. Watch below and you’ll find Hillary’s successor answering a question about the e-mails by sneering sarcastically that he hasn’t had time yet to pay any attention to “such an important issue.” That’s going to be the Democratic establishment’s new talking point for as long as they can maintain it: No matter what you may read in the newspaper, no matter what some hyperventilating wingnut or wild-eyed Elizabeth Warren fan tells you, sleep easy knowing that this is a nothingburger because it just is and that’s all you need to know about it. Voters won’t care. Ergo, you, voter, shouldn’t care. Got it?
Exit question via RB Pundit and Ace: As of late this afternoon, Rachel Maddow had studiously avoided the Hillary e-mail debacle in her otherwise busy Twitter account today. How come? I’d expect her to be #ReadyForWarren, not part of the Kerry/Begala “who gives a sh*t?” crowd. Maybe she’s calculating that until this story goes fully nuclear and/or Warren makes some noise about actually running, she’s better off staying on Her Majesty’s good side. Goodwill from the White House will come in handy for a major media figure if we end up with another Clinton administration after all.