Saturday, March 14, 2015

Race for the White House 2016 Volume 11

Last week, I wrote in some detail regarding the scandal related to Hillary Clinton's email practices as the U.S. Secretary of State. It is a multifaceted story however and I could not possibly have covered every angle. This week's entry will be shorter, but there is really nothing else to focus on in the Presidential race besides this story and the potential for developments to shake up the entire narrative and expected trajectory of the campaign.

Plenty of domestic and international issues continue to be points of conflict in Washington between the two parties, but right now, nobody who currently serves in the federal government, including an incumbent Vice President is considered a likely Presidential nominee, or certainly is not part of the Congressional leadership. So, while Republicans Jeb Bush and Scott Walker continue to garner the attention and poll the highest at this very early stage, the major events of the GOP nomination contest are still likely months into the future.

The Democrat side of the equation may be very much in flux right now, though many might not realize it. The entire infrastructure of the party has since 2012 seemed intent on running Hillary Clinton in '16 and hoping that an historic nomination as the first ever woman Presidential nominee would make her tough to defeat in a general election. The last two weeks have done much to damage the aura of inevitability.

At this time last week, it looked like Hillaryland was planning to wait everything out and hope the entire controversy subsided. That clearly was not the case, as even Democrats suggested it would be necessary for Clinton to make a public statement. That happened earlier this week, after a scheduled speech at the United Nations in New York City. It was an odd venue for a candidate press conference, but in a relatively brief appearance, Clinton took questions from handpicked reporters, who had been assigned to cover the United Nations, and in most circumstances, not American domestic politics.

While some of her supporters were quick to claim that the mere effort to speak to the situation would do much to hamper interest and speculation, there is a widespread belief that it was not a good event for Hillary Clinton. After many questions about her "rust" on the public appearance trail in 2014, she also looked and sounded like someone who was very much off their political game.

In the press conference, Hillary Clinton conceded she probably could have done something "smarter", (without admitting that she made any mistakes) but said she conducted all her email on a private server for "convenience" and not wanting to carry around two devices. Many people have sort of dismissed that excuse out of hand, believing that her motives were far more about secrecy and making note that just about everyone who has a smart phone can access multiple email accounts on that single device.

Clinton also said that she had deleted some 30,000 emails, which she said were of a personal or family nature, and unrelated to her official duties, and that she had no intention of turning over the server. She appeared somewhat angry and defiant throughout the press conference and skirted several questions. Many feel that everything she said did more to cause more questions regarding the motives of her habits, as well as the transparency and cyber-security issues.

In her answers, she claimed that many of the deleted emails involved communications from her husband and her, whatever the verbiage of that actually means. It is hard for her to claim that she had personal emails back and forth with her husband, as former President Clinton is said to have only sent two emails in his life, both when he was President. If those past statements have changed, perhaps he will need to have his own press statement to announce, "I did have textual relations with that woman, Ms. Rodham."

In the past few days, there has been talk about how the State Department did not begin to archive her email until last month, despite what she said, as well as speculation, mostly limited to conservative friendly television and internet thus far, in which a credible case is laid out that the would be candidate may have committed a felony related to State Department disclosure forms she was required to sign under oath upon entering and leaving government service.

The Associated Press is suing the State Department for the emails, while Congressional Republicans are likely to issue many subpoenas and will clearly try to get Hillary Clinton to personally testify under oath about many of these questions. The media is probably not going to exactly hope for this story to go away either. While it is certainly true that most in the mainstream media lean heavily to the left, Hillary Clinton has never been as close to a beloved figure among them, as compared to Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. The many angles of the relationship between Hillary and the media may become an even bigger and more intriguing aspect to the entire upcoming campaign.

There is a long way to go before predicting that Hillary Clinton is going to be indicted for anything, or something along those lines, but as long as she remains an un-announced but expected Presidential frontrunner, this is going to continue to sap up much of the Campaign 2016 oxygen. While the leading Presidential candidate on the GOP side have largely held their fire, Republicans have looked at developments over the past couple of weeks, as well as seeing and hearing from Hillary Clinton herself, and seem far less concerned about her "inevitability."

Democrats, from the highest levels on down, probably sense that too, and fear that the narrative of Clinton as "Nixon in a Pantsuit" could very much complicate a race they were once extremely cocky about. There has to be talk about what exactly will happen if Hillary is knocked out of the race early or looks seriously damaged politically. Most of that talk, to the extent it exists, is probably happening behind closed doors, but if the past week, or those that follow, begin showing that a toll has been taken in Hillary Clinton's poll numbers, including match-ups against Republican hopefuls, the talk about alternatives may become much more public.


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