At long last this week, Hillary Clinton offered ABC’s David Muir an apology for the email scandal threatening to burn her presidential aspirations like so much firewood. “What I had done was allowed, it was above board,” she said. “But in retrospect, as I look back at it now, even though it was allowed, I should have used two accounts. One for personal, one for work-related emails. That was a mistake. I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility.”
While it’s refreshing to see Clinton say those two little words, it remains unclear whether she really understands what she’s apologizing for. With the numerous conditions she places on her contrition, you have to wonder why she would apologize at all. Did nothing wrong, but I’m sorry. Hmm. Okay.
She fails to see that the root of the problem lies not in mixing her personal and business accounts but in her complete lack of regard for information security. There might have been some political bristle if she had used her State Department email account to send messages to her friends, but not to this extent. Americans don’t care about a bit of unprofessional indiscretion. We care very much about a woman who jeopardized national security for no better reason than personal convenience.
Of course, we soon learned that this apology – like everything else that comes out of Clinton’s trap – was the result of a focus group. A week before appearing on television with Muir, Clinton’s campaign showed a New Hampshire focus group a tape of her answering questions about the scandal. From the New York Times:
Last week, Mrs. Clinton’s aides showed a video of that news conference to a New Hampshire focus group of independents and Democrats, according to a Democrat briefed on the focus group whose account was confirmed by a person in her campaign. Participants said they wanted to hear more from Mrs. Clinton about the issue.
The focus group also showed that the email issue was drowning out nearly everything else that Mrs. Clinton was hoping to communicate to voters — something Mrs. Clinton and her husband have complained about to friends.
This story came hot on the heels of another insider piece that revealed that Hillary’s campaign staff were aiming to make her more “spontaneous” and funny on the trail. Which, naturally, launched a thousand late night jokes about the silliness of planned spontaneity.
Clinton is losing to Senator Bernie Sanders in the latest round of Iowa polls, and she is rapidly losing her comfortable lead in New Hampshire as well. The desperation is setting in. Democrats are reportedly casting around for potential alternatives – John Kerry, Al Gore, and Joe Biden are among the names being bandied about in the DNC.
“If party leaders see a scenario next winter where Bernie Sanders has a real chance at the Democratic nomination, I think there’s no question that leaders will reach out to Vice President Biden or Secretary of State Kerry or even Gore about entering the primaries,” Garnet F. Coleman told the New York Times.
For a woman who was once considered the unchallenged heir apparent to the throne, her plastic personality and lack of genuine humanity may cost her in ways that a simple email scandal would not have. In a way, she’s like the opposite of her Teflon husband – everything sticks to Hillary. When voters can’t see behind the facade, they begin making assumptions about what might be hiding in the darkness.