Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How Republicans helped cause Hillary's email scandal

The relationship between Republicans and Hillary Clinton is akin to that of the one between Captain Ahab and Moby Dick. One has relentlessly pursued the other across the decades, and in the process things have gotten messy. Should Hillary Clinton win the presidency — an outcome much to be hoped for given the other likely possibilities at this point — the hunt will continue.
Republicans have pursued every misstep and unfortunate occurrence by the Clintons as though each and every incident was in and of itself an IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE, a high crime and something almost certainly more than a misdemeanor. Sometimes there was more there than at other times, but it didn't matter: Every bad thing that occurred in proximity to the Clintons became worthy of a years-long Congressional investigation, or inquiries by off-the-reservation independent counsels who exceeded their mandates to find something, anything, that would put a final nail in the coffin. (All of this sprang from a pre-determined conclusion: The Clintons — and Democrats more broadly — had no legitimate place at the head of government and thus could not be tolerated. The same process has been at work during the Obama years, but the President Obama has — perhaps owing to a lifetime of being a black man working his way up through white institutions — been much more circumspect in his behavior, giving critics much less to latch onto.) Time and again, the overreach failed.
The Clintons have helped feed this process over the years through carelessness and occasional inability to stop following their — his, really — own worst impulses. They never seemed to understand that the appearance of a conflict of interest can be just as bad as an actual conflict. The email scandal is easily seen as the result of all this: Hillary knew Republicans would sooner or later come after her email and mine it for scandal because it's what they do; she tried to build a wall around that email and in the process played a bit fast and loose with the law — an attempt to elude her tormentors instead became the latest tool they used against her.
So it's both the case that the Clintons have been overzealously pursued by Republicans and the case that they were dumb enough not to let it force them to cling to the highest standards of appearance and conduct. 
Everybody's guilty and nobody has hands clean. But most of us have been reinforced in either our cynicism or self-righteousness, and at this point, that's probably the best we can hope for.

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