Thursday, March 05, 2015

Clinton e-mail fallout (with 3 updates)

-- This Nation article by Michelle Goldberg, paraphrasingly entitled "Mess Shows Democrats Need a Primary, Not a Coronation" is the most even-handed and on-point.

Yet at a certain point it stops mattering whether coverage of Clinton is as unfair as her defenders say it is. If she‘s going to be the Democratic candidate, part of her job is not to leave herself open to this sort of thing. If she wasn’t actively skirting the law by not using a State Department e-mail address, she was being sloppy. By not keeping her official e-mails separate from her private ones, she gives Republicans a pretext to subpoena them all. At the very least, there’s going to be a drawn-out fight over access to them. Should she be forced to turn them over, her genuinely private e-mails as well as her public ones will be used against her. Imagine what Republicans would be able to do with a trove of private correspondence that Clinton never thought they’d get to see.

The whole mess underscores the immense danger for the Democrats of holding a coronation rather than a primary. Even if the front-runner were as low-drama as Obama, the party, the country and even the candidate would benefit from a genuine debate about everything from foreign policy to the financial industry. And Clinton is not low-drama. She and her husband live at the center of a constantly unfolding political soap opera with endlessly proliferating subplots. Even if they’re not always treated fairly, they also seem to pathologically court trouble. See, for example, recent stories about foreign governments making donations to the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s State Department tenure. One of those, The Washington Post reported, “violated [the foundation’s] ethics agreement with the Obama administration.”

Maybe there’s nothing more there, or anywhere, waiting to come out. But without other credible Democrats building the infrastructures they’d need to run, there’s no plan B if something explodes. Democrats are betting the future of the country on the Clintons’ ability to avoid crippling scandal. Maybe that wager will ultimately make sense, but there’s no reason to go all in so soon.

This development fans the embers of hope belonging to both the Warrenistas and Sandersites. That's not a bad thing, IMHO.

-- Andy Borowitz also nails it.

A new poll indicates that the American people are deeply disappointed in Hillary Clinton’s State Department e-mail flap because it does not live up to the high standards of sordidness set by Clinton scandals of the past.
Davis Logsdon, who supervised the poll for the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, said that those surveyed were “receptive and even intrigued” by the idea of a new Clinton scandal, but then were deflated when they learned what the scandal actually involved.

“When people hear the words ‘Clinton scandal,’ they expect a certain amount of sex and sleaze,” Logsdon said. “But once they find out that this one is about State Department e-mail regulations which may or may not have been disobeyed, they feel very let down.”

“In a sense, the Clintons have created this problem for themselves,” Logsdon added. “They set an extremely high bar with some very memorable scandals in the past, and for a lot of people, this one just doesn’t live up to the hype.”

The current scandal could be salvaged in the public’s eye if some of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails turn out to have sexual content, but Logsdon called that “a long shot.”

“The poll results show that there’s a genuine appetite out there for a juicy Clinton scandal,” he said. “But, sadly, there’s also a sense that maybe they did their best work in the nineties.”

That stinging bit of satire reinforces the odd truth that MSNBC has reported more heavily on the development than did CNN or even Fox.

-- Jon Stewart also cracked everybody up.

“It seems like less of a scandal and more of like a nerd snap like, ‘She’s so old, she doesn’t have an official email account.”

“I think the concern there is that the aides are the ones that get to decide which emails are appropriate to be shared as opposed to an independent arbiter,” Stewart explained. “That is why Doritos doesn’t get to decide which ingredients consumers need to know about, or why you don’t get to tell the cops which pocket to search.”

Jeebus Christmas, I'm going to miss that guy when he retires.

-- But seriously, folks... Joe Biden.

"There’s always another shoe to drop with Hillary," (Biden backer and former SC Democratic Party chair, Dick) Harpootlian said in an interview Wednesday. "Do we nominate her not knowing what’s in those e-mails?... If the e-mails were just her and her family and friends canoodling about fashion and what they’re going to do next week, that’s one thing. But the fact that she’s already turned e-mails to the Benghazi committee because she was doing official business on it means she’s going to die by 1,000 cuts on this one."

Forget for a moment that the South Carolina Democrats are about as stout as their Texas counterparts.  And all kidding aside, Dick Harpootlian has it right.

Seriously.  Joe Biden.

Cumulatively, though, these latest headlines about Clinton, along with other stories sure to come, reinforce her vulnerabilities as a candidate. Democratic primary voters are about to be reminded on a semiweekly basis of what left a lot of them so ambivalent about Hillary in 2008 — namely, the perception that the Clintons are like an unregulated industry within the party, impervious to scrutiny and contemptuous of anyone who would get in their way.

And this is why, if I were Joe Biden, and if I still harbored designs on the Oval Office down the hall, I’d be inclined to ignore what the insiders were saying. I’d run, and I’d run now.


Biden is a better candidate than most pundits have ever given him credit for. Yeah, he’s sloppy and meandering and says some nutty stuff. But that’s all part of being genuine and three-dimensional, which may be the most valuable trait in modern politics and not a bad contrast to Clinton’s robotic discipline.

Not incidentally, Biden is especially popular in Iowa, where he first campaigned for president in 1988, and where he retains unusually strong ties. (The Clintons, you may recall, have never met with great affection there.) I remember being struck, in 2008, by the regularity with which Iowa Democrats told me that Biden was their second choice and would have been first if they thought he could actually win.

Biden’s a middle-class champion who makes the case for economic fairness with more conviction than Clinton and less vitriol than Warren. He’s a serious thinker on foreign policy who opposes rampant interventionism without sounding like a pacifist. He more than holds his own as a debater.

A blood-letting primary is, really and truly, precisely what the Democratic Party needs.  Mostly because if it doesn't get that, it is officially in danger of handing the White House to the Republicans.  And consequently becoming as irrelevant nationally as they are in Texas, and South Carolina, and far too many other states.

Joe Biden sure ain't no progressive.  Since I live in the good old red-ass Lone Star State, I'll probably still vote for Jill Stein.  But Biden brings the demographic necessary for Democrats to win in 2016: blue collar white males.  Everybody might laugh at his malaprops, verbal and physical, but nobody can discount his sincerity.  He hasn't made himself wealthy in public office, and he doesn't have any dirty laundry or skeletons in the closet.  If he did, somebody would have found something other than that plagiarism thing a couple of dozen years ago by now.

So whatever happens going forward, things just got hella more interesting for Democrats.  And bloggers.

Updates (3/6): From the comments, Socratic Gadfly tells us who Eric Hothem is, and why we'll probaly be hearing his name mentioned more often in the future.  From James Rosen at a source I wish I did not have to link, the e-mail address for "hdr" on her private server appears to have had at least ten different iterations.

The application of The Harvester to revealed additional email addresses besides the one that Clinton aides have insisted publicly that she used, and have said was the only one that she used, when she served as Secretary of State: namely,

A screen grab of The Harvester’s findings provided to Fox News by the source in the hacker community – whose professional resume also boasts extensive experience in the U.S. intelligence community – lists rather similar, but nonetheless different, email addresses, including,,,, and

Also unearthed by the hacking tool were email addresses of a slightly varied structure, including,,, and

It’s not known how many of these multiple addresses the secretary herself may have used, nor whether some may have been assigned to close aides entrusted to communicate with her on the domain.

 And from The Atlantic, an e-mail that State could not find.

This is exactly why Clinton's behavior was unacceptable: It enabled her to conceal at least some official correspondence that the press and the public had a right to see, or at least to have acknowledged with an explanation, challengeable in court, of why the correspondence was exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

Has she now turned over the Blumenthal correspondence to the State Department? Or is it still exclusively on the privately owned server that she controls? The answer may offer clues as to whether she really turned over all correspondence related to her government job, as her defenders have maintained. Either way, the private server will have helped her to evade at least one FOIA request. And we only know that much because a hacker stumbled on her emails. What, if anything, she deleted from her server may remain forever unknowable.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

I've taken a bit more of a look at the "cui bono" angle: