Clinton: ‘I Was Not Thinking a Lot’ When I Became Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton
Charlie Neibergall/AP

With a long line of debunked lies, shredded excuses, and abandoned spin attempts behind her, Hillary Clinton finally decided it was time to “apologize” for her email scandal.

Of course, her idea of an “apology” basically amounts to: I’m sorry you Little People are too stupid to understand what I was up against, as a historic female Secretary of State.

For good measure, Clinton threw in a stiff dose of the amazing Incompetence Defense into her MSNBC appearance – that bizarre, and disturbingly effective, tactic pioneered by the Obama Administration where officials claim to be innocent of wrongdoing by insisting they’re not very good at their jobs.

This was accompanied with the magic phrase “I take responsibility,” which means exactly the opposite of its normal interpretation when used by anyone associated with the Obama Administration. To this bunch, I take responsibility means I have no intention of accepting any blame or consequences for these actions, but since I said the magic words, you have to quit pestering me about it.

Clinton, an exceedingly poor retail politician who still can’t quite understand that her coronation has come off the rails, played all of these cards badly.

She explained that she had used a personal email account as a senator from New York and didn’t spend much time considering alternatives when she became secretary of state in 2009. “I did all my business on my personal email [in the Senate],” Clinton said. “I was not thinking a lot when I got in [to the State Department]. There was so much work to be done. We had so many problems around the world. I didn’t really stop and think what kind of email system will there be.”

“This was fully above board, people knew I was using a personal email, I did it for convenience. I sent emails that I thought were work related to people’s dot gov accounts,” she added.

There’s a sound bite every politician wants following them around: I was not thinking a lot when I got in.

Her claim not to have thought about the matter much is patently, demonstrably false – she overrode a great deal of warning and advice from State officials to establish her homebrew server. The State Department’s technical team did not know she was using a personal system – all hell broke loose when it went down, and they had no idea why her mail wasn’t going through. It was all so “fully above board” that no one knew about it until lawsuits forced the existence of her email system to light, and the guy who set it up just invoked his Fifth Amendment rights to avoid discussing it with the FBI.

As for the “convenience” claim, even leaving aside the copious evidence that she simply is not telling the truth about her desire to carry only one email device – and how ridiculous that sounded all along, coming from a high-powered official who travels with a vast retinue – she’s making a terrible indictment of her own sense of judgment by pushing this line. Her quest for “convenience” exposed classified material, launched both internal and law-enforcement investigations, and will very possibly end with indictments – if not of Clinton herself, than of whichever staffer takes the fall for violating protocols and getting classified material onto her server.

She doesn’t seem to understand that her honesty and trustworthiness numbers are falling not just because she tells a lot of stories that don’t check out, but because even if you take what she says at face value, she’s making herself sound like a very poor candidate for high office in the Information Age.

As for her supposedly “more contrite tone,” as NBC puts it, she didn’t actually apologize for what she’s done – she only said she’s “sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions, but there are answers to all these questions.”

In other words, she’s talking down to the people troubled by her conduct, which is not a great way to win them over.  She’s still trying to shift focus onto her critics and obscure what the story is really all about. The bottom line is that she lied about having classified material on that server – straight-up lied, with deliberate intent. She sent it, and she received it. It was classified when she handled it, much of the material in question remains classified to this day, and the only reason it wasn’t “marked classified” is that someone on Clinton’s staff removed the markings. There is nothing “confusing” about the matter at all.


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