So … how did that press availability yesterday work out for Hillary Clinton? Judging by the reaction of the media and her fellow Democrats, she might have done better sticking with the Nixonian stonewall strategy. The New York Post had some fun with their front page (via Twitchy):
New York Post cover going to leave a mark on HillaryLand pic.twitter.com/o4UKMPRkrO
— Rick (@StrokesofCandor) March 11, 2015
John Podhoretz writes that “Smart Hillary” has out-thought herself into “Dumb Hillary”:
On Tuesday, she informed us that she used her own server for her own e-mail because it was too difficult for her to have two iPhones — so she was playing Dumb Hillary Clinton,with her implicit argument that it’s easier to have your own server in your own house than to use a government device. Who believes that?
Mrs. Clinton informed us that she won’t make her e-mails public (save the 55,000 pages she “printed out” for the State Department) because they include communications between her and her husband. That was Dumb Hillary Clinton, who seems not to know her husband’s people told The Wall Street Journal only last week that he has sent exactly two e-mails in his lifetime.
The press corps covering the conference, and hundreds of reporters following it live on Twitter, seemed utterly agog at the falsity, the stonewalling and the flashes of anger that offered the only real indication she knows perfectly well how damaging all this might be for her. …
Mrs. Clinton is going to have to transform herself, to get rid of Dumb Hillary and find a new persona to cope with troubled times, because the person who made so horrendous an accounting of herself yesterday has no future other than ignominious defeat.
CLINTON: “Others had done it.”
THE FACTS: Although email practices varied among her predecessors, Clinton is the only secretary of state known to have conducted all official unclassified government business on a private email address. Years earlier, when emailing was not the ubiquitous practice it is now among high officials, Colin Powell used both a government and a private account. It’s a striking departure from the norm for top officials to rely exclusively on private email for official business.
CLINTON: “I fully complied with every rule I was governed by.”
THE FACTS: At the very least, Clinton appears to have violated what the White House has called “very specific guidance” that officials should use government email to conduct business. …
Federal law during Clinton’s tenure called for the archiving of such private email records when used for government work, but did not set out clear rules or punishments for violations until rules were tightened in November. In 2011, when Clinton was secretary, a cable from her office sent to all employees advised them to avoid conducting any official business on their private email accounts because of targeting by unspecified “online adversaries.”
The AP fact-check also scoffs at the “convenience” argument, noting that Clinton by her own admission has no problems with multiple devices now, and that Blackberries can handle multiple accounts (although as Scott Gration discovered, State doesn’t want its staff taking advantage of that capability). They’re equally skeptical about Clinton’s claim that she didn’t send classified material over e-mail, and the claim that the Secret Service provided adequate protection for the server. Basically, there isn’t anything from Hillary’s defense yesterday left standing except the implicit “trust me.”
Her actions violated regulations, and policies of the Obama administration, directing public officials to use government e-mail systems. Those policies are needed so that e-mails can be found and retrieved for investigations, lawsuits, Freedom of Information Act requests and the sake of history.
At one level, Clinton’s desire for a zone of privacy is understandable, given her political enemies’ overzealous pursuit of “scandals” ranging from Whitewater to Benghazi. Nevertheless, her behavior amounts to ignoring rules that others have little problem obeying.
More regrettably, it indicates a distinct disdain for openness in government. …
Clinton should turn her server over to the State Department so that it can be examined. While she is at it, she should limit gifts to the Clinton Foundation so that they do not raise conflict-of-interest issues.
Beyond that, if Clinton expects to be president, she would do well to articulate a clear vision of how her administration would commit itself to transparency and avoid games of secrecy — though given her track record, convincing the public will be a tall order.
Democrats may have worried about Hillary’s lack of response before the presser, but now they’re panicking after watching it:
Privately, senior Democrats have been wringing their hands at what they consider a botched response by Clinton and her skeletal political operation, fearing that her silence fed suspicions that she had something to hide.
The e-mail controversy overshadowed two days of carefully choreographed events aimed at celebrating Clinton’s lifelong commitment to empowering women and girls. The events are part of the thematic buildup to the expected launch of her official campaign.
At the Women’s Empowerment Principles event at the U.N. earlier Tuesday, Clinton was warmly welcomed as a “future president.”
But elsewhere in the U.N.’s hulking headquarters, the scene was chaotic ahead of her news conference. Scores of journalists and a massive scrum of television cameras waited hours in line to get credentials to access the high-security compound. At a stakeout location, a simple podium was set up for Clinton only a few feet away from a copy of Picasso’s “Guernica,” which gruesomely depicts the suffering of innocent civilians under fascism during the Spanish Civil War.
The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty writes that the Clinton circus is back in town:
Hillary Rodham Clinton has not yet even announced that she is running for president, but the spectacle of the Clinton White House years is unfolding again, touched off by the controversy over her practice of using a private e-mail account, rather than an official one, while she was secretary of state.
Her defense, which was simply that it was more convenient to do it that way, is unlikely to satisfy her critics or stop the questions. …
Tuesday ended up feeling more like a throwback to the darker side of 1990s politics, when — with just two hours to spare before her U.N. address — Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill announced that Clinton would hold a “brief press conference” after her speech. …
“Hillary Clinton’s response to her e-mail scandal is already turning into another exercise in limiting transparency,” Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said in a statement. “She and her team had perhaps hundreds — if not thousands — of options for a venue for today’s press conference on her secret e-mail scandal, but Clinton instead chose one of the most difficult places for reporters to get access to: the U.N.”
Merrill labeled that line of argument “the RNC’s Malarkey Express” — a statement that, perhaps unintentionally, evoked Clinton’s 1998 contention that a “vast right-wing conspiracy” was at work against her husband.
My column at The Week pointed out just how bad Clinton nostalgia would be for Democrats. Over the last few days, voters have had just a taste of what’s in store for the next 20 months if Democrats are foolish enough to nominate her to top their ticket in 2016. The James Carville-Lanny-Davis Clintonian circus only gets worse from here.