As I said after Hillary Clinton addressed the e-mail scandal, her explanation for why she exclusively used a personal e-mail address while she was secretary of state did not put a period at the end of the sentence. In fact, her news conference has famously created more questions than it answered. There are a lot of holes that still need to be filled and rough spots that need to be filed down. And the Clintons no longer get the benefit of the doubt in any case where there are inconsistencies or where trust or nuanced understanding is required to buy the story.
To start, Clinton claimed that some of the e-mails she later deleted were “personal communications from my husband and me,” but it has come out that former president Bill Clinton has only sent two e-mails in his entire life. And her “convenience” excuse also raised eyebrows. Clinton apparently didn’t want to carry two phones around in order to maintain two separate e-mail accounts – which would have been necessary under State Department rules between 2009 and 2014 – but now that she has left office and has fewer handlers than a secretary of state, she carries four devices.
And doesn’t anyone else find it implausible that Clinton claims roughly 50 percent of her e-mails were work-related? I took an informal poll in my office, and everyone agreed the work-to-personal e-mail split is more like 90 percent work and 10 percent personal, even among those we wonder what it is they actually do all day.
Anyway, the biggest problem for Clinton isn’t the actual details of the e-mail scandal; it’s the fact that the scandal reinforces all of her negative stereotypes that were developed in the 1990s, and it comes at the very time she is trying to create a fresh appeal. Does anyone really think “that new car smell” was present at her news conference? No. It was stale, musty and downright Clinton-esque.
The rumor is that Clinton is going to formally kick off her 2016 presidential campaign in early April. Well, the best campaigns are the ones that feel fresh and exciting, that invite supporters to soar along, to hop on board, catch the big wave and ride the surf onto the beach to launch a new beginning. To say the least, that’s not the Clinton pitch. Her pitch is inevitability. Team Clinton’s message to Democrats is to get on board or else; those already on board better not go wobbly and they should watch their backs or someone will elbow them out of their future West Wing offices. It’s not a very inviting atmosphere right now.
Meanwhile, Republicans have reacted in a somewhat bipolar fashion. They’ve sloshed from, “Oh no, Hillary Clinton is invincible” to “Oh no, Hillary Clinton might not be the Democratic nominee in 2016.” I’m sure a more accurate picture of her candidacy is somewhere in between, but Clinton urgently needs to change the subject. She is off to a sloppy start, and her rhetoric is full of denial and blame rather than anything resembling hope and change.