Hillary Clinton’s trouble with her email account is only a symptom of what ails the lady. Like Bubba, she suffers from terminal arrogance.
Hillary and Bubba — or should that be Bubba and Hillary? — think rules don’t apply to them. When he gets caught in a jam, which is often, he winks, smiles, crooks his crooked pointing finger, and asks one and all: “Whatcha gonna do with a good ol’ boy like me?”
That always worked. Hillary knows better than to try that anywhere but at home. When the heat is turned up under her, as when the telephone rang at 3 o’clock in the morning with news of catastrophe at Benghazi, she disappears.
The Clintons, to channel Scott Fitzgerald, are very different from you and me. They have never had to answer for their manifold sins and shortcomings. You could get the boy out of Hot Springs, where the air was foul with mafia-like corruption and practiced chicanery, but you can’t get Hot Springs out of the boy, nor out of his moll.
The difference this time, with secrets in 50 shades of black beginning to spill from the dark places where the Clintons have hidden them, is that somebody woke up the watchdogs of the media, perhaps by stepping on the tail of a mutt blissfully sleeping under the piano. Once awake, a mutt, nursing a bruise on that tail, is not likely to get back to sleep. The latest disclosures dogging Hillary were disclosed not by Fox News or The Washington Times, but by her most loyal liege at The New York Times and The Washington Post, ever ready to stand partisan guard.
When she was well into her tenure as secretary of state, Hillary ordered the sacking of an ambassador with an email problem not nearly as acute as hers. Other sins were alleged against Scott Graton, the ambassador to Kenya, in 2012, but one passage in the State Department inspector general’s report of his investigation into Ambassador Graton’s sins and shortcomings is pertinent to the case against the woman who was his boss and who is now contemplating a run for the White House.
He broadcast his lack of confidence in the “information management staff,” the report charges, so he took charge of changing it himself. “He ordered a commercial Internet connection installed in his embassy office bathroom so he could work there on a laptop not connected to the Department email system. He drafted and distributed a mission policy authorizing himself and other mission personnel to use commercial email for daily communication of official government [his] flouting of direct instructions to adhere to Department policy have placed the information management staff in a conundrum: balancing the desire to be responsive to their mission leader and the need to adhere to Department regulations and government information security standards.”
Tough stuff. But rules made for everybody else need not be obeyed by Bubba and Hillary. Who do those guys who make rules think they are? Calling the lady with the lamp (and the arm for throwing it) to account, as if she were a common, ordinary American person, is not the way to treat a Clinton.
Washington has enjoyed watching Hillary, who was never the queen of the prom, trying all week to dance away from the Clinton exercise in doing it her way. The Democrats are frightened about what comes next, and they’re resigned to the fact that something will. When the high-school kids at the White House screw up the nation’s security, that’s bad. But when they screw up the party’s political prospects, that’s when it gets serious.
“I don’t think there’s any ill intent in this,” says Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. (Heaven forfend!) “I just don’t know how the State Department functions with regard to this.” Another Democrat, Sen. Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, suggests it was only a matter of klutzy attempts to use technology, and all this could have been prevented if Hillary had recruited younger children to manage her communications.
“People have different ways of communicating,” he says. “I have a granddaughter who does nothing but text. You’ll never find a letter written with her.”
Hillary as the texting granny. It might have worked.
Terminal arrogance is usually but not always terminal. Bubba survived on charm and the ability to disarm his critics with sorcery. The only things Hillary has never been accused of are grace and charm. She has worked for decades as the sorcerer’s apprentice, but she has never learned anything. On the job training on the road to the White House is not likely to teach her anything about charm and grace, either. But if she runs, the rest of us still have a lot to learn.
• Wesley Pruden is the editor emeritus of The Washington Times.