One of the best practitioners of the political dark arts used to refer to the kind of story that appeared yesterday about Hillary Clinton using a personal e-mail account instead of an official one while at the State Department as a “Picasso.” By that, he meant a masterpiece of his craft: placing, without fingerprints, negative stories that wind up on the front pages of a major newspaper and command the political news cycle for a few days. These stories are often months in the making and, at best, reinforce or create a new negative narrative about the target. So it is with this latest story on Clinton and e-mails. For Clinton-haters and skeptics, it underscores a pattern of deception and rule-breaking and threatens to become a chronic annoyance for her eventual candidacy. What e-mails are missing? What’s in them? A congressional investigation, anyone?
There’s another interesting wrinkle to this story for those who follow the game within the game of political campaigns. Who might have been the source of the story? Which master of the craft of opposition research? Well, I don’t know, but you don’t have to be an expert in forensics to suspect the campaign of Jeb Bush. Bush, after all, released all of his e-mails from his years as governor of Florida, which seems less curious now. And his campaign communications director, Tim Miller, perhaps the best in the Republican Party, is the former head of the factory of Clinton opposition research, America Rising. If that’s the case, the story could be a signal that Bush’s campaign knows how to throw a fastball up and in.