Laissez les bons temps rouler (Update)
The other day I saw a graphic on TV that showed the amount of time the major networks spent covering Mr. Trump’s open mic scandal compared to Mrs. Clinton’s e-mail disclosures. It was seven to nine minutes compared to around 30 seconds (okay, I confess, I was watching Fox News). But it got me thinking about why there was such a disparity in coverage (other than media bias).
Mr. Trump’s scandal was lurid and salacious. It is the kind of headline we see on the National Enquirer at the supermarket checkout counter. It is very easy to comprehend. Most men know an uncouth boor who would say things like that. Many women have probably encountered men who have tried to grope them. This isn’t rocket science. This is the tedious every-day boorish behavior that we run into from time to time while trying to survive in modern America.
On the surface, Mrs. Clinton’s e-mail problems seem equally tedious. We have all hit “reply all” and instantly regretted it or deleted data that we spent hours trying to retrieve to no avail. She tried to convince us that it was just boring grandmotherly stuff. But there is more to her e-mail problem than tedious day-to-day behavior. Her “boring” stuff is turning out be be very interesting indeed. But it is complex and not as easily understandable as groping some pussy.
If you are reading this essay or have read my other essays and books, you are probably already sufficiently informed politically to understand the consequences of Mrs. Clinton’s e-mail antics. You may, however, have difficulty in explaining why this is important to your friends and acquaintances who start yawning and looking at their watches before you can explain what Wikileaks is. Maybe I can help you.
First, let me establish my street cred. I have a government security clearance and have had access to the State Department’s confidential e-mail system. I have had (while posted overseas) a state.gov e-mail account just like Mrs. Clinton was supposed to have had. I have even received e-mails from Mrs. Clinton in her capacity as Secretary of State (although they were probably written by Huma or Cheryl). I also receive annual cyber-security training and biannual mandatory ethics training. I have read confidential e-mails and know what the [c] stands for and also know what [sbu] stands for (sensitive but unclassified).
Update: Just had to complete my 2016 Security Refresher Training (as required by Executive Order 13526, Dec. 29, 2009). It included how to how to classify documents (including e-mails) and who should classify them. It even featured Gen. Petraeus as a violator of these requirements as well as warnings of possible criminal prosecution for such violations. It also noted that the use of unsecured servers was a violation. I guess Mrs. Clinton couldn't recall if she had read Executive Order 13526.
It appears that Mrs. Clinton believes cyber-security and ethics training is only for drones and peons. Besides, she has people for that. But had she taken the training she would at least been better informed about how to avoid the ensuing scandal that has erupted.
She did appear to know one thing. E-mails on government systems are government records and are stored permanently (unless you are an IRS official investigating conservative groups). Further these records are subject to FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests. Mrs. Clinton did not want her e-mails subject to FOIA requests which is why she used a personal server. Of course it is not the server that determines whether it is a government record but the content of the message.
Mrs. Clinton’s goal was not to keep us from seeing her mundane family communications (although it might have made her appear more human – or maybe not). It was to hide from us the political machinations she and her cabal did through the Clinton Foundation. Maybe that's why she needed a legal team and BleachBit to scrub 30,000+ messages supposedly about yoga classes and bridesmaids.
The Clinton Foundation began its institutional life as a means to raise money for Mr. Clinton’s presidential library. Apparently, the ease of raising money for something as boring as a presidential library proved to be too much of a lure for the Clintons. With millions and millions coming in it seemed a shame to only spend $165 million of it on a library complex. There was so much good that could be done with all that money (estimated to be around $2 billion). Like parking campaign staff at the Foundation between election campaigns (such as Huma and Cheryl). Like providing an income for Clinton loyalists unpopular with the current administration (such as Sidney Blumenthal). Like using money intended for earthquake victims in Haiti to hire FOBs (Friends of Bill). Like getting donors cushy jobs and appointments they weren’t qualified for (such as Rajiv Fernando’s appointment to the International Security Advisory Board).
If all this smacks of Tammany Hall, you are getting the picture. Like many corrupt enterprises, the Clinton Foundation may have started off with good, even noble, intentions. This Shakespearean fall from grace was recorded, not in iambic pentameter, but in keystrokes of thousands of e-mails. That is why Mrs. Clinton’s e-mails scandal is so important.
It is interesting that the most telling portraits of these two unfit presidential candidates were revealed by electronic recordings they never thought the public would see or hear.