The Hillary Clinton email scandal is so bizarrely boring to me, I lost all interest a long time ago, and now that federal officials have recommended that there will be no criminal prosecution of Hillary, I’m even more bored than I already was. What exactly did she do? She stored her emails on the wrong server while she was Secretary of State? She was “extremely careless” in handling some emails that contained top-secret classified information? Even though nothing bad happened as a result, she wasn’t careful enough with 110 emails (out of hundreds of thousands of emails that went through her office) that were sent years ago?
Is that it? My God, the FBI spent more than a year and millions of dollars investigating years-old emails?? Is this what passes for a political scandal in America nowadays? She wasn’t adequately using the right security protocols to protect confidential information?
I feel like this is one of those boring compliance training videos I used to have to watch back when I worked at a bank, where they would remind you not to bring your personal iPod from home and plug it into your work computer. This is nothing!
Of course, it doesn’t look good that Attorney General Loretta Lynch recently had a “chance meeting” with Bill Clinton on the tarmac at the Phoenix airport. Of course, the system always protects itself; poor people get sent to prison for decades for nonviolent drug offenses while rich and powerful people get off with a slap on the wrist. Even Richard Nixon got pardoned for his high crimes committed while in office.
But c’mon: emails??? This is what the Republicans (and a few dead-ender Sanders supporters) have been rubbing their hands together in gleeful anticipation about? This was the big game-changer that they thought would bring down Hillary’s campaign? What a joke!
I’m not a passionate supporter of Hillary and I have complicated feelings about her, but this email story is a big pile of nothing. It won’t make any big difference in changing people’s opinions about Hillary, and Trump won’t be able to gain any traction from it because he’s too busy retweeting anti-Semitic images and generally running the most incompetent general election campaign since Michael Dukakis.
Frankly, I don’t care about Hillary’s emails. Here’s why:
1. Mistakes were made, but no crimes were committed.
According to the FBI, Hillary didn’t do any of the stuff that usually results in prosecution in cases like these—she didn’t willfully do anything wrong or try to obstruct the investigation or leak confidential information or exhibit any disloyalty to the U.S. government; she just didn’t have good enough security protocols in place and as a result, she made some confidential information vulnerable. (But nothing bad actually happened as a result—no harm was done.)
I’m surprised more confidential information doesn’t get leaked as a result of mishandled emails. Lots of organizations—in the public sector and private sector—are very bad at managing sensitive information. I don’t believe Hillary deliberately was trying to mishandle or sabotage her email security; she probably just got some bad advice, or the State Department had a certain way of doing things that wasn’t up to the highest standards, or a few emails slipped through the cracks. Besides, remember a few years ago when WikiLeaks published 250,000 documents from the U.S. State Department’s secret diplomatic cables? Compared to that, 110 emails is nothing.
I don’t think Hillary had any ill intentions here; if anything, I would guess that this careless handling of confidential information was the result of a combination of clumsiness and control: Hillary and her team wanted to give themselves an added level of control over her confidential data, and they probably thought that using a private email server was acceptable based on the overall security standards and culture of the State Department, and maybe they got advice from a few different sources on how to do it, and they thought that what they were doing was totally fine, but then it turned out to not be fine.
This isn’t some sinister plot; this is just an example of the imperfections of bureaucracy and how sometimes people make mistakes for complicated and not-very-interesting reasons. I don’t believe Hillary thought she was doing anything wrong, and intent matters. Hillary’s defense sounds like something out of a Dave Chappelle bit, but it is actually legally valid in this case: “I didn’t know I couldn’t do that.”
2. The only people who care about this stuff are weirdos like Chris Christie.
Remember when Chris Christie was still running for president, before he committed career suicide by endorsing Trump, and he promised at the GOP debate to prosecute Hillary for her emails, and the way he was talking about “I will prosecute her” made it sound like he was getting some kind of kinky sexual thrill from the idea? Republicans have been obsessed with catching Hillary in illegal conduct for decades now, but they’ve never been able to make anything stick. This email “scandal” was the ultimate in grasping at straws. Republicans are like Wile E. Coyote trying to catch the roadrunner—but less lovable.
3. Presidents do a lot of worse stuff than this.
C’mon, people. This is America! We give presidents the power to start stupid wars, imprison people without trial, instigate disastrous military interventions in countries that are no threat to us, and drone strike innocent civilians (including American citizens!) to death. Improper email storage is nothing compared to the many legal crimes that Hillary will soon be free to commit—just like all other presidents—once she’s in office.
4. No one is going to change their minds about Hillary.
What would it take to change the way you feel about Hillary Clinton? I feel like most Americans already have their opinions set in stone about Hillary—she’s been in public life since 1992 and we’ve all had plenty of time to decide how we feel about her one way or another; she has her ups and downs in opinion polls, but in the end, no matter what new information comes out and no matter what happens with this email “scandal” or anything else, she’s going to remain the same intensely polarizing figure in American politics that she’s always been.
Hillary Clinton is a human Rorschach test: you see what you want to see. Her defenders see this email scandal as no big deal, while her critics see it as evidence of incompetence, arrogance, or wrongfully unprosecuted criminality. Her harshest critics will never give her any credit, and her staunchest defenders will never concede that she’s capable of making a mistake.
As a general rule, I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. There’s so much injustice and scandal and bullshit happening all the time in plain sight, we don’t need to waste time being angry about conspiracies that don’t even exist. If you want to criticize and investigate Hillary, don’t focus on petty nonsense like this email scandal—instead, talk about the big stuff that’s out there in plain sight: her support for the disastrous Iraq War and her generally hawkish foreign policy, her lucrative speaking engagements at powerful companies like Goldman Sachs, the Clinton Foundation’s complex web of global business deals and philanthropic activities, and whether Clinton donors might have gained any unfair influence (or even created an appearance of impropriety) on U.S. foreign policy while Hillary was Secretary of State. These are the questions that are really worth asking, instead of trying to find an elusive “gotcha” in a pile of emails.
But apparently no one cares, because the primary campaign is over and Hillary is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. If all of the other problems and baggage and imperfections of her career in politics couldn’t stop her by now, a few mishandled emails aren’t going to do it either. Republicans were trying to prosecute Hillary for her emails because they agree with her about all of the other stuff: the hawkish foreign policy, the sketchy donor relationships, and the cheerleading for rapacious financial firms. Come to think of it, why do Republicans hate the Clintons so passionately? The Clintons have spent their careers trying to give Republicans whatever they want!
Anyway: this email scandal is stupid and pointless and I’m glad to be done writing about it. It will change nothing. It’s just a distraction from the real issues that a big majority of Democratic primary voters have already made their peace with long ago. So in conclusion: vote for Hillary in November! She’s not a criminal; she’s just really lackluster at information security! Let’s get excited, America!! YEAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!