Editor’s Note: Maureen Dowd’s column addressing the explosive Hillary Clinton email scandal appeared in Saturday’s online edition of the New York Times. We reprint in part here.
WASHINGTON — SOMEWHERE in Smithsonian storage sits a portrait of Bill Clinton with two odd features: He is standing next to a shadow meant to conjure Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress, and he is not wearing his gold wedding ring.
As we have been reminded by a recent wild cascade of stories, everything about the Clintons is convoluted. Nothing is simple, even a celebratory portrait.
Nelson Shanks, picked by Clinton to do his portrait for the National Portrait Gallery, revealed to the Philadelphia Daily News that he had used a blue dress on a mannequin to evoke the shadow of the Lewinsky scandal in the portrait.
I called the 77-year-old artist to ask about his devilish punking.
“It’s an extra little kick going on in the painting,” he said. “It was a bit humorous, but there was also a sort of authenticity to it. To do a Pollyanna, basically meaningless, symbolically neutral painting of somebody that has had a powerful influence on society is really copping out.” He said that Clinton’s lack of a wedding band has no ulterior meaning, noting: “I just forgot the ring.” But Clinton aides weren’t buying it.
Shortly after the art imbroglio broke, an email imbroglio broke. The Times’s Michael Schmidt reported that, as secretary of state, Hillary did not preserve her official correspondence on a government server and exclusively used a private email account. She used a private server linked to her Chappaqua home, only turning over cherry-picked messages in December at the State Department’s request.
Given the paranoid/legalese perspective that permeates Clintonland, this made sense: It’s hard to request emails from an account you don’t know exists. And your own server can shield you from subpoenas and other requests. If you want records from the Clinton server, you have to fight for them. Clinton Inc. can tough it out and even make stuff disappear. Instead of warning the secretary that she could be violating regulations, her aides fetishized her clintonemail.com account as a status symbol. Chelsea took on the pseudonym Diane Reynolds.
Near midnight on Wednesday, Hillary tweeted that she had asked the State Department to release the emails she had coughed up when pressed, noting: “I want the public to see my email.”
Less true words were never spoken.