My fellow pro-Hillary Americans, let’s face it: this whole eleventh-hour e-mail nightmare is one hundred per cent our own candidate’s fault.
It’s not FBI Director James Comey’s fault. It’s not Donald Trump’s fault. It’s not the Republican Party’s fault. It’s not Huma Abedin’s fault, and (for once) it is not Anthony Weiner’s fault. Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the one who decided to have that stupid server set up in that stupid basement in that stupid house. If she had not done that, Comey and company would not have anything to do to her now. For the hundredth or thousandth time, if she had not given in to her famous instinct to hide things, she would not now be suffering from the toxic perception that she must have things to hide.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing that I can imagine Hillary Clinton having done, tried to do, or thought about doing to our country in the dark that would strike me as one-sixtieth as frightening as almost everything that her opponent — and for that matter, almost all of her opponent’s competition for the Republican nomination — routinely swear on their respective stacks of Bibles to do in broad daylight. If tomorrow those e-mails revealed Hillary Clinton to have been sexting with Anthony Weiner over their mutual lusting to quintuple NAFTA, open all our borders, and embroider the phrase “Black Lives Matter” into the underwear of every police officer in America, I would not hesitate to vote for her over the racist, sexist, Islamophobic, isolationist all-purpose blowhard ignoramus she is running against. And of course, the odds are overwhelming that in the end, those e-mails are going to reveal a whole lot of almost-nothing, like always, leaving her friends bitter; her enemies enraged; and everyone else bewildered that such brilliance and such ineptitude can have lived together in one person for such a long time.
I have always been in Group Three, plus I like NATO, so I hope Clinton gets elected in spite of this mess. In fact, I hope (against hope) that she gets a Democratic House and Senate because of it. That’s perverse, of course: Logically, this last-minute derangement should only strengthen one’s deeply American impulse to put a check on the power of the President. Unfortunately, no currently imaginable Republican Congress will provide a check on this president. They’ll tie a noose around the neck of her tenure, tighten it with a series of un-endable investigations, and proceed to hang the country. I’m against that.
Just because I am “with her”, however, I am not going to pretend that at this moment of white-hot crisis, Hillary Clinton is primarily a victim of anyone other than Hillary Clinton. None of her other supporters should pretend that, either.
It is at precisely such a moment that we most need to face our least-favorite fact. Hillary’ Clinton’s impulse toward self-shrouding — perhaps not unlike Bill’s impulse toward womanizing — is a deeply ingrained personal trait with potentially dire public consequences. Happily, those consequences can be easily avoided, if only she chooses to avoid them. Why is it so hard for this bright woman to accept a reality that she has spent her whole life creating? Being who she is and having taken the path that she has taken to where she is, Hillary needs to abandon any attempt to skirt public disclosure of anything she does other than make a poo-poo. Any such attempt will backfire. It will leak, it will fester, it will look different in the light of day.
It is incredible that coming up on forty years of life in effigy, she still needs to be convinced of this, but someone does need to convince her. Maybe it’s Chelsea, who seems to have had her head screwed on straight about goings-on at the Clinton Foundation and how they would look to everyone other than Doug Band. Maybe it’s Huma (umm…ok, probably not.) Maybe it’s her old friend Betsy Ebeling. Maybe it’s revered Methodism founder John Wesley raised from the dead, dusted off, and hauled in as a special counselor.
Then again, why not bring in some professionals? Assuming she battles through to the Oval, why not hire the president-elect a top-notch secrecy-sobriety coach? Pack her off for some true transition time at Obfuscation Anonymous. Make her write down all her often-justified resentments on little slips of paper (“Still burnt by offhand cookies-and-tea comment of 1992”…” “Did not kill Vince Foster”… “Blamed for Benghazi by a Congress that had been short-shrifting diplomatic security forever”) and toss them into the Potomac. Feng-shui the White House so that paranoid vibes flow straight down the toilet. Rejigger her cell phone so that if she dials Sidney Blumenthal, the call reroutes straight to Sean Hannity. Better yet, chuck that cell phone into the Potomac, too. George Washington got along just fine without one.
It’s not just what Clinton needs to stop doing, either. It’s also what she needs to start. As president, she needs to call a press conference a week. Give loads of long, open-ended interviews. Casually misspeak so often that all her casual misstatements get lost in the wash of each other. In short, she needs to resolve to screw up a whole lot more in public. It can’t be half as damaging to her as all the screwing up in private — or rather, screwing up solely for the futile effort to operate in private — has been.
Clinton haters like to crow that at this point, her hide-duck-dissemble routine has become an immutable trait, like eye color. Nonsense. This is absolutely something that our girl can address. If she can will herself to become the first woman president, surely she can will herself to an even more historic feat. To succeed, Hillary needs to do whatever it takes to become the first president who grows less paranoid in office, rather than more.
Step one: she has to look in the mirror, not across the aisle, for the source of her woes.
Those of us supporting her need to do the same. National politics has always been rough sport, but when did it become nothing but dueling cults of personality? Whether the issue is personal, legal, tactical, or substantive, it no longer matters what is said or done. It only matters who has said or done it. There seems to be nothing that the rank-and-file won’t rationalize on their own side, or criminalize on the other side.
Sure, it may be the case that Comey timed his letter so as to help Republicans burn Hillary at the stake, as they are predictably and pathetically eager to do. But even if so, the fact remains that by her own actions, she handed them the wood, the straw, and the match.
She’s gotta stop that. She’s gotta stop that.