Howard Dean: Hillary story is "bupkis"

In one corner: Howard Dean, former DNC chief. In the other corner: Newly-minted member of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” Eugene Robinson … and everyone else on Morning Joe. Dr. Dean came out to perform CPR on James Carville’s arguments with Andrea Mitchell yesterday, but the rest of the panel declared it brain dead. It started even before Dean got a chance to talk, as Mika Brzezinski noted that — far from the Clinton scandals being a right-wing obsession — MSNBC had spent more time covering them than Fox News. Robinson pre-empted Dean’s VRWC rebuttal by stating, “The reason it will never stop is because they keep doing it.”

That left Dean to lamely argue, “I don’t think it was a vast right-wing conspiracy, but I bet you anything that it was the right wing that brought this to the attention of the press.” Joe Scarborough and Brzezinski pushed back, and Dean then claims he’s unaware of the regulations. Maybe Clintonland should prep their mouthpieces better:

Stick around long enough for Howard Dean to argue that Hillary’s homebrew server was likely more secure than the State Department’s system. “This is laughable on its face,” Scarborough exclaims. “Are you working with the Clintons?” Mika finally asked, and Dean admits that he’s supporting Hillary for President. As if that wasn’t obvious enough from the start.

Robinson takes on a significant part of the rebuttal to Dean, and to Clintonland’s attack dogs in his Washington Post column today. The only possible reason for exclusively using a private system, Robinson states, is to avoid oversight and transparency — and that’s an ongoing pattern with the Clintons:

How could anyone serve four years as secretary of state with no official e-mail account, instead conducting business from a private address with its own domain and server? The answer is: Deliberately.

The only reason for Clinton to go through the trouble of setting up this system — rather than just call the State Department’s version of the IT help desk — would be to ensure that nobody got to rummage freely through her communications, personal or official. She must have wanted to be able to decide which e-mails would become part of the historical record and which wouldn’t.

With Clinton widely expected to run for president, the e-mail flap projects the sense that she considers herself both embattled and entitled. In the end, I’m not convinced that voters will necessarily care how Clinton’s electronic communications were routed. But they may well ask themselves whether they’re ready for the dynasty and the drama.

As I write in my column for The Week, this is the dark side of Clinton nostalgia:

With these new scandals still dominating headlines, the Clintons called on blasts from the past like Lanny Davis and James Carville to go on offense over the weekend, dismissing the email scandal as nothing but “right-wing talking points.” On Fox News Sunday, Davis insisted that Clinton not only didn’t violate the law but actually “did nothing wrong.” He spun the belated and partial release by Clinton as evidence of her transparency. An exasperated Chris Wallace finally asked Davis, “Do you ever get tired of cleaning up after the Clintons?”

Apparently not, and neither does James Carville. The most prominent of Clinton advisers showed up on MSNBC to argue that Clinton was the victim of “cockamamie … right-wing talking points.” Andrea Mitchell scolded Carville several times for trying to spin the story, and finally asked him to explain “why she should be the person deciding … which emails to turn over?” Carville offered a hysterical non-sequitur: “Are you saying she’s a crook?”

Perhaps Carville didn’t intend to offer Nixon nostalgia, but the scandals seem to be heading in that direction — in large part because Clinton has adopted a stonewall strategy with the media. She planned to announce the launch of a presidential exploration committee next month, but has not made herself available to the press since last year’s bungled book tour. Instead, she’s just sending out the old attack dogs to make the tired “vast right-wing conspiracy” defense.

Late Monday, Politico reported that Clinton will finally come out of hiding to explain herself in a press conference. It now looks like this will happen Tuesday. If she tries a new version of Al Gore’s 1997 “no controlling legal authority” argument, as Carville and Davis have at least suggested, the nostalgia tour will have well and truly arrived — and remind everyone why blasts from the past are fun to visit briefly, but not to live through for another administration.

It’s the 1990s all over again, and not in a good way. The reason the Clintons won’t ever stop acting as though they’re entitled and they’re victims is because the press has continued to buy it … at least until now.

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