Well, if anyone knows about entitlement, it’s Hillary Clinton on Coronation Tour v2.0. Fox’s Ed Henry continued to press Hillary for answers on the e-mails scandal as well as the revelation that Bill Clinton wanted to get $650,000 to entertain the charming dictators of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, described by the UN rapporteur on the subject as “the rape capital of the world.”
ED HENRY: Secretary Clinton, I wonder if I could ask you a couple of questions. One would be—were you aware—were you aware—thank you. Were you aware that your husband wanted to give paid speeches to repressive regimes like North Korea? Do you have any comment on these new emails that raise questions about conflict of interest involving your aide, Huma Abedin? And finally, I wonder — you said there’s nothing unique about this situation. You’ve said this before. Can you name one other Cabinet secretary who had their own server?
CLINTON: Well, let me answer one of your questions because I think that’s what you are entitled to.
At this point, about 40 seconds in, it no longer matters what the answer was. Hillary made it clear that she didn’t like being questioned, and that she doesn’t much think she owes anyone answers to those questions, let alone Ed Henry, who pushed her off her game in Las Vegas a week ago. In just a few moments, Hillary had reconfirmed her haughty, imperial, and disdaining attitude not just toward the press but toward any accountability whatsoever.
Erik Wemple called this an example of Hillary’s “distaste” for the media. Describing Henry’s question as “airtight,” the Washington Post media critic offered a variety of better responses than the one Hillary chose:
That’s a mouthful, to be sure. Many politicians might just decline to give detailed responses to all of Henry’s queries. And there are plenty of graceful ways of doing so — perhaps by stressing the need to get to other questions; perhaps by just taking the last question and then moving on to the next journalist; perhaps by just providing very brief responses to each one of them.
Clinton chose Door No. 4: “Let me answer one of your questions because that’s what I think you are entitled to.”
This overshadows what was actually not a bad answer on the North Korean part of that story, but it doesn’t answer why Bill wanted to collect $650,000 from dictators conducting a real war on women. It’s also not as if anyone else got to follow up on Henry’s questions, either; just as soon as she answered the one part of Henry’s query, Hillary retreated without taking any more questions, just as she had in Las Vegas.
Earlier this week, Hillary finally just started saying that the secret e-mail server was a bad idea, and that she shouldn’t have done it — perhaps mindful of the panic rising among some Democratic officials at the summer meeting here in Minneapolis. She answered a question about it today by saying it was “complicated,” but Chris Cillizza says it’s really not:
What she needs to do is find a message on the e-mail server issue that 1) makes sense to the average person paying only passing attention (if that) to the race, and 2) helps her get beyond the incessant questioning from reporters.
I am not sure today’s “it is complicated” line is as effective at doing that as the more conventional responsibility-taking of earlier in the week. The idea that if only you understood all the specifics that Clinton will be proved right is not a great stance for her or the campaign. The issue, in this formulation, is not that Clinton made a mistake by setting up the server and then not handing it over immediately, but rather that the main mistake was in not explaining it well enough.
It’s actually not all that complicated, as I wrote in my column this week for The Fiscal Times:
All of this makes for good campaign-coverage fodder, using the extent of day-to-day updates to gauge the seriousness of Clinton’s predicament. That, however, misses the more fundamental issue that this scandal presents. Do we have the rule of law in the United States, or do our political elites enjoy privileged immunity from the kind of prosecution others could expect in similar circumstances[?] …
The commentary and coverage of the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal mainly glosses over these concerns in favor of the daily up and down of campaign coverage. It puts the US media environment in the curious position of suggesting that there is less accountability for violators the higher rank they have. We now have a presidential candidate whose legal liabilities and moral responsibility for subverting oversight and risking our national security secrets go largely unmentioned, even while she argues for being given the highest level of trust and authority in American public service.
That is not just bizarre; it’s antithetical to the American identity. The distinctive concept of American exceptionalism is loyalty to the rule of law over pure nationalistic or ethnic identity. Officeholders pledge to support and defend the Constitution that guarantees the rule of law, rather than a parcel of land or tribal identity. That law binds all equally, from the humble American worker to the President of the United States, or so we expect. Even when applied imperfectly, we expect our institutions to try to make it a reality.
Hillary Clinton’s arrogance and its treatment by the media challenge that national identity to its core. Pundits have called Clinton’s second presidential run another attempted “coronation.” Perhaps that is more accurate than anyone cares to admit.
The haughty, imperial attitude merely underscores the simple truth of this scandal.