After years of manufacturing false scandals around Hillary Clinton, right-wing attack dogs and the mainstream media finally have a bone to gnaw that has some meat on it: Hillary’s handling of emails while she was secretary of state.
Let’s first review all the false scandals: The Whitewater investigation turned up nothing but evidence of an affair between consensual adults, neither of whom was Hillary. Her husband’s affairs are a private matter that have no bearing on her capabilities unless you believe that repairing the damage caused by a spouse’s affair or being married to a philanderer by definition disqualifies a person (note I did not say woman) from holding the presidency. None of the ten separate investigations into the Benghazi incident have found a single reason to blame Hillary Clinton for either her actions or her policies. The accusations that the world respects the United States less because of her actions as Secretary of State are part of the larger fiction that the Obama administration’s actions in the Middle East caused the rise of ISIS; related nonsense is that we gave away the store by entering into a nuclear deal with Iran and that Obama doesn’t support Israel.
All these lies and false accusations for all these years. Finally there arises an accusation against Hillary that has some merit: she did mishandle her emails as Secretary of State.
The important question is how serious were her actions? Do they disqualify her from serving as president? Do they rise to the level of criminality?
After a bit of Internet research, including reading the recent report of the State Department’s Inspector General, I’ve identified three key questions to help determine if Hillary’s actions regarding her email when secretary of state disqualify her from higher office.
- How different was her handling of email from other government officials?
None whatsoever. Many government officials, including every secretary of state before John Kerry, used private email addresses. A much smaller number also used a private server. No one else has received negative attention for her-his handling of email.
2. Did or did not Clinton’s aides cooperate with the various investigations?
The State Department’s Inspector General’s office says “no,” Clinton spokespersons say “yes.” We have to go with the State Department on this one. I leave it to the dear reader to determine whether dragging your feet responding to an investigation that reveals no criminality or fault disqualifies you from the presidency.
- How much did the Clinton handling of email decrease national security?
Only a fool would deny that using a private server probably represented a security risk, but let’s keep in mind that hackers are always trying to attack U.S. government databases and that every year we face more sophisticated attacks. But we also have more sophisticated tools and protocols to fight computer crimes against the government. Keep in mind, too, that a tremendous number of government documents are classified that should not be, much, much too many for the free and open society we are supposed to have. There have been no reports that Clinton’s handling of email led to any leak of information that harmed the country or an ally. To be sure, Clinton was lucky, but given the many holes in our collective firewall and the constantly escalating war between the government and hackers, we are lucky every day of the week.
Yes, Hillary made a mistake, which she has freely admitted. But others made the same mistake. Time and standards changed, and what seemed acceptable at the time in retrospect seems to be a bad decision.
But the criticism of Hillary regarding her email seems to follow a broader pattern: We blame her and not others who committed the same sins. Detractors have blamed her for voting to enable George W. Bush to send troops to Iraq, forgetting that most Senators voted with her and that the Bush Administration had given her and her Senate peers—and the rest of the country—misleading information about weapons of mass destruction and connections to those responsible for 9/11.
Detractors also blame Hillary for the Draconian prison sentence mandates and the cuts in welfare programs under her husband’s administration, despite the fact that she did not hold a government position at the time and in fact her political influence was at a low point, because of the failure of her attempt to develop a single-payer healthcare system. Bernie Sanders has received no criticism for his 1990’s votes on stiffer sentences and welfare reform.
The broader pattern is to blame Hillary and not others for past actions that many people took regarding issues about which the entire country has changed its mind. In a real sense, the news media has created a double standard for Hillary Clinton.
If you don’t think a double standard is in operation when it comes to Hillary, consider that one of the ten investigations of Benghazi is ongoing and that we have yet to hear the Federal Bureau of Investigations chime in about the Clinton emails. We continue to waste taxpayer money on witch hunts that come up with nothing or with the realization that Hillary only did what others were doing. And yet the same Obama Administration that is pursuing the Clinton emails decided not to prosecute any government official for their part in creating an illegal and embarrassing American torture gulag throughout the world. Not Bush II, not Dick Cheney, not John Yoo, not David Addington—no one was prosecuted or investigated. We just swept it under the table and promised not to do it again, a promise that Donald Trump is ready to break if he is elected. Nor are there any active investigations about the obvious lies that Bush, Cheney, Colin Powell and others told to convince us to go to war against Iraq.
The news media aided and abetted the government in sweeping the terrible deeds and rampant illegality of the Bush Administration under a rug. It would be a shame if applying a double standard on activities that were not illegal should serve as the reason not to elect one of the most qualified individuals ever to run for president.