Vail Daily column: Expect the unexpected in this political season
August 23, 2015
As expected, the Hillary Clinton email scandal is turning into a very partisan issue; and how could it not be? We're entering the election season and candidates from both parties are getting their ducks in row as the jockeying begins to choose the standard bearers for 2016.
And before Republicans begin jumping for joy that Hillary Clinton's antics may be damaging her chances for the presidency, the GOP is having significant problems of its own. The Republican Party may have the most qualified stable of potential presidential candidates than at any time in the last 40 years, yet it's a billionaire businessman, who refuses to supply specifics, that is sucking all the oxygen out of the room. I choose not to diminish "the Donald" but allow me to ask rhetorically, would you trust Donald Trump with a nuclear weapon?
But back to Hillary Clinton. Let the FBI decide whether Hillary Clinton acted illegally or perhaps just inappropriately by using a private email server for government business. But regardless of their determination, right now, fully 58 percent of registered voters believe Bill Clinton knowingly lied when she said last March there was no classified information on her private server.
This much we do know. At least two of Hillary Clinton's emails have subsequently been found to contain classified information. Her supporters argue the aforementioned emails may or may not have been marked as classified at the time. But they render a specious argument because in 2012 President Obama gave 20 people in his administration the authority to classify material — Hillary Clinton was one of the 20.
As one pundit recently offered, why would anyone wipe a server clean if all it contained were emails about Chelsea’s wedding and her yoga practice? It just doesn’t pass the smell test.
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The takeaway is — regardless of the email's classification — shouldn't the secretary of state of the United States of America know what should and should not be classified? And if HillaryClinton didn't know, then can we really blame her opponents for questioning her qualifications to be the president of the United States?
Recently, Hillary Clinton joked about her new Snapchat account to Iowa voters when she said, "I love it. I love it, those messages disappear all by themselves." John Kass, a liberal columnist for the Chicago Sun Times wrote, "Trying to turn national security into a punch line is a stupid thing to do, especially when the FBI has your server."
Kass went on in his column: " … A candidate who puts their own politics over security — especially if that candidate is widely thought by voters to be untrustworthy — has a problem." And the fact that names such as Al Gore, John Kerry and Joe Biden are being tossed about as potential presidential candidates is a pretty good indication the Democrats feel Hillary could very well lose the election.
Yes she could, but conversely, what if she were to win? Kass takes a swing at the obverse side of that matter when he asks, " … If by electing Hillary, would America have elected another imperial personality who feels the rules only apply to others and that she is entitled to use private email for government business?"
The wrongdoing, if any, on Hillary Clinton's part will be decided in time. Nevertheless, can we really blame the average American if he or she infers from Hillary Clinton's actions that by wiping her server clean she was in effect attempting to conceal something from the public?
As one pundit recently offered, why would anyone wipe a server clean if all it contained were emails about Chelsea's wedding and her yoga practice? It just doesn't pass the smell test. And why did Hillary Clinton vow not to turn over her server to a independent arbiter when requested by the chairman of the House Benghazi Committee five months ago?
Recall, the committee suggested she turn over the server to the inspector general or an independent neutral third party such as a retired federal judge, but Hillary Clinton would hear none of it. And for someone who's been in politics almost her entire adult life, that wasn't a particularly politically astute move considering Hillary Clinton wants to be the commander-in-chief. Now she has no choice and the optics won't be helpful to her candidacy.
Guilt or innocence aside, optics are critical in politics and it just doesn't look very good when a potential presidential candidate is given the opportunity to end any doubt about what was actually on the server by turning it over to the proper authorities, then refusing to do so, only to have it taken from her five months later by the FBI.
Perception is reality, and it will not reflect propitiously for Hillary Clinton if after examination by the FBI it's determined the server was scrubbed so clean the emails can't be retrieved, because it will beg the question of why anyone would go to such lengths (and it would take great lengths to scrub a server so clean that even the FBI can't access the information) if she weren't trying to conceal something.
Quote of the day: "I opted for convenience to use my personal email account … because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two." — Hillary Clinton.
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.