Hillary Clinton’s “press availability” at the United Nations – cleverly arranged so that few American political reporters would be there to ask her tough questions – didn’t shed much light on her email scandal.
She started off by wrapping herself in the feminist flag, evidently hoping observers would conclude that asking her tough questions is tantamount to misogyny, and tried slipping in the big Democrat redirection talking point of the day about Republicans supposedly being traitors who want to help Iranian hardliners blow up the world, or something.
She also strolled in about half an hour late, a time-tested Obama tactic for pre-exhausting the audience. Those were fairly obvious signals that what followed would be low on honesty, and high on protein for Hillary’s rabid followers, giving them energy to scream “SHE ANSWERED ALL THE QUESTIONS!” for a few days until the storm blows over.
As for the big email question, Hillary peddled the astounding excuse that she thought two different smart phones would be required to check both State Department mail and her personal mail when she traveled, and carrying two phones was just too much trouble, so she found it easier to set up her own private mail server at the Chappaqua mansion and route all her mail through it… endangering national security and evading transparency laws in the process.
This isn’t going to fly, for several reasons. First of all, even if the onetime Smartest Woman On Earth genuinely didn’t know that smart phones can check more than one email account, she has a gigantic entourage to help her set it up. Said entourage also helps with her personal baggage, so carrying a few extra ounces of smartphone is hardly an inconvenience. It’s not like she has to stuff her own carry-on bag into the overhead bin in the economy section of an MD-80 while a line of cranky tourists yells at her to hurry up.
Then again, she gave her top aides off-the-books accounts on her shadow server too, so maybe they’re not very good at handling smart phones either. One of those aides was Human Abedin, whose husband Anthony Weiner is demonstrably adept at using the many features of a modern cell phone.
The rest of the “press conference” consisted of Hillary arrogantly insisting that she can be trusted to verify her own honesty. She deleted tons of emails, but trust her, she handed over everything relevant to her job as Secretary of State. (She seemed to think we’d all forget that the number of emails she volunteered is zero – the State Department only got material from her by demanding it after she left office.) She somehow managed four years as SecState without sending or receiving any classified information – trust her.
She’s confident her low-security server was never hacked, because the Secret Service was protecting it, and Hillary seems to think “email security” involves hiring someone with a gun to stand next to the computer and fend off burglars.
She’s not going to hand over anything she hasn’t already chosen to cough up, because trust her, the only emails she hasn’t provided concern her daughter’s birthday party and yoga class. (Presumably she was exchanging a high volume of yoga tips during those big email blackouts the House Select Committee on Benghazi discovered in her correspondence, including that famous picture of her pecking out emails on a Blackberry while wearing sunglasses, en route to Libya.) No, she won’t let an independent team examine her server – you’ll just have to trust her that it’s solid as a rock, and has never been used as a unmarked digital grave for inconvenient official correspondence.
She also claimed her mail server was totes secure because it was a hand-me down from Bill Clinton’s White House, which would make the machine perhaps nine years old when Hillary started using it. Computers don’t get old or anything after nine years, right? Also, Bill Clinton said he didn’t use email, and in fact still doesn’t like it, to this very day. Was Hillary’s mysterious IT technician blowing styrofoam peanuts out of that like-new, never-been-used surplus 1999 server when he set up shop in her basement in 2009?
As for all those transparency laws Hillary evaded – trust her, they were mere suggestions, trifling matters for “low-level” federal employees such as the Secretary of State.
Never mind that we’ve got video of her howling about the Bush administration destroying the Constitution by using private email, two years before she became SecState. She evidently did a lot of deep thinking about the situation during those years, and decided she was wrong, and it’s perfectly fine to use a personal mail server for every last byte of government correspondence over the course of four years, and then figure out which emails should be part of the public record on your own initiative after you leave office. Does anyone have video of Hillary apologizing to the Bush administration for her earlier intemperate remarks? She didn’t do it at this particular “press availability,” and who knows how long it will be before she comes out of hiding to hold another one.
The whole performance was hilariously dodgy, imperious, tone-deaf, and implausible, with Clinton amusingly posturing like a figure of unimpeachable honesty, as though she didn’t have a long history of shredding documents and avoiding oversight. The thing about transparency is that it can’t work on the honor system, as Hillary claimed, even if politicians weren’t… well, politicians. She didn’t touch on the small matter of the State Department routinely claiming she had no email responsive to Freedom of Information Act suits and congressional inquiries, because it was all stashed in her data fridge in Chappaqua, but timeliness is one of the reasons transparency must be a matter of strict and impersonal requirements.
There is no way to “make things right” years after subpoenas have been dodged. Try telling the IRS you’re planning to come clean about your personal data in five years or so, and see how far that gets you.
The point of Hillary’s performance today was to change the subject, and give her partisans something to rant about for a few more days, until the scandal can start blowing over. This was more of a loyalty test than a press availability. Is the media loyal enough to Hillary to help her batten down the hatches, especially if new revelations keep coming? They certainly were once upon a time, but their regard is mixed with a dash of annoyance these days, including a bit of pique about the way she arranged Tuesday’s presser to keep most of them out of the loop.