The New York Times' Brendan Nyhan writes an analysis today positing that Hillary Clinton's email scandal ultimately won't damage her presidential ambitions too badly. Why? Because voters have short memories, and don't much care about this sort of thing anyway.
(1) Many self-stylized good government types on the Left, including a good number of journalists, already dislike Hillary. A major contingent within the Democratic base is just itching for an Obamaesque, Liz Warren-like figure to emerge -- and they'd bolt in a heartbeat. "Ready for Hillary" is not a universal sentiment on the Left. This email story is ammo for them, confirming their worst suspicions about Clintonworld.
(2) Coupled with the other current -- and more potent, I think -- Hillary scandal, average Americans are being reminded of the ugliness that has followed the Clintons throughout their decades of public life. If the electorate is in a mood to turn the page and elect someone fresh and untainted by seemingly ancient political baggage in 2016, every negative headline and unseemly revelation draws some blood. These things build. What voters have been hearing for two weeks is that (a) the Clintons' organization accepted big,
(3) One of the bases for Hillary's inevitable presidential run will be her experience at the State Department. Previously, the knocks on her record were that she didn't accomplish much beyond racking up miles on the jet, and, of course, the
Hillary surely knows that running on her record at State, and in the Senate (she was an Iraq war supporter), and as a polarizing First Lady, will be fraught with pirfalls and unflattering flashbacks. Perhaps she's been "brushing up" on foreign policy (!) in order to figure out how to distance herself from the outcomes of her own work to date. But to the extent that she's unfazed by her recent struggles, it's because she's probably comforted by her early across-the-board polling advantages, and because her campaign will be firmly rooted in identity politics. She's a woman trying to make history, and it's time for a woman president, and did she mention she's a woman? Everything else will be downplayed and treated as noisy, silly, and quite possibly sexist, distractions from her all-important womanhood narrative. Expect to be inundated with these sorts of messages for the next two years, America:
At her first public event since voters learned that she used personal email to handle sensitive government business for four years, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton avoided any suggestion or shadow of the scandal, instead delivering a dress rehearsal campaign speech to an audience of pro-choice advocates. As for her long-deferred announcement about the 2016 presidential race, Clinton did no more than repeat old quips about the difficult question of whether to run for president, at one point asking: “I suppose it’s fair to say: don’t you someday want to see a woman president?”
Hillary has decided that if she turns this into the Girl Power election, she wins. And she might be right. I'll leave you with two clips. The first is Her Highness waxing poetic about -- giggle -- her commitment to transparency, followed by her 2000 admission that she doesn't "do email" because that would only help those trying to investigate her (skip ahead to the 3:30 mark on that video):