We’ve got a scandal alert.
Over the weekend, it came to light that Hillary Clinton’s emails were routed through her own private server. At the time, Clinton was serving as Secretary of State. This is significant because Clinton’s boss had mandated that all members of his cabinet set up and use a government email, for the purposes of transparency.
So, Clinton used a private email, thus avoiding transparency efforts. Big deal, it’s not like she deleted a whole bunch before anybody could read them. Oh wait, yes she did—thirty thousand of them. Uh-oh.
If you’re keeping score, this has no less than three hallmarks of a major political scandal. First of all, it involves a polarizing politician. Secondly, we’ve got said polarizing political figure breaking the rules of her boss, the President of the United States. Nothing sets off scandal sensors like government officials behaving badly. Thirdly, we’ve got a servant of the people treating her inbox in the same way that government agents in movies treat their archives when a foreign army is closing in.
It was not just the press that had a field day with this scandal. Several Republican presidential hopefuls have gone as far as to suggest that this will derail Mrs. Clinton’s presidential ambitions.
Two reasons suggest that assessment may be misguided.
It is an old cliche that the most important thing in real estate is location, location, location. It does not matter how nice the building might look, or how affordable the rents may be. If the property is not in the right location, it will be more difficult to sell. When it comes to political scandals, the most important thing is timing, timing, timing.
Remember when Republicans shut down the government in 2013? It was clear to everyone that the Republicans were going to lose the next election based on that. … And then they won control of the Senate. Remember Bridge-gate, when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s staff used the threat of a shutdown to get their way? Surely, this would bring Christie’s career to an end … until it didn’t.
Both of these incidents illustrate the short memories of the American public. A scandal hits, the public erupts and then it is more or less forgotten till the next scandal comes down the wire. All of this is breaking several long months before the nomination campaign kicks off. Hillary is likely fine on that score.
The second reason that Mrs. Clinton will be okay has to do with the partisan divide in America. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the lies that Bill O’Reilly has told. I argued that the nature of O’Reilly’s position of prominence within the political right meant the scandal would likely be shrugged off by conservatives. The same goes for Hillary. She is too prominent and important to the Democrats to let this scandal derail her. The people who have already decided they are voting Hillary Clinton aren’t likely to change their minds, even when presented with unpleasant facts about Clinton’s transparency issues.
By no means am I advocating for Mrs. Clinton. What she did was both a violation of Obama Administration policy and a shocking disregard for transparency. I am merely pointing out that partisanship and short memories likely mean that Hillary will continue to have a legitimate shot at the presidency, for better or worse.
Collegian Columnist Jesse Carey is all about disrupting the lame-stream media narrative, except for when it suits him, and can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Junotbend.