I'm A Hillary Clinton Supporter & I Wish She'd Apologize For Her Emails — Though She Doesn't Need To
As someone who has long admired Hillary Clinton as a politician, it’s incredibly dismaying to watch the endless fender bender that is the Clinton State Department email scandal continue to dog her. Granted, compared to the 17-car pileup that is the Donald Trump campaign, much of this is being overlooked by voters. Even if they're not totally damning (which some would argue they are), the stories that keep coming out reinforce the image of the former secretary of state as being too casual with ethical boundaries and shifty when it comes to the truth. So why hasn’t Clinton made an effort to try to put all of this behind us? The answer may be that she still doesn’t know what’s coming.
The latest email-related revelation involves Cheryl Mills, a longtime Clinton family associate who has worked with them both in and out of government. It was reported last week that Mills took an undisclosed trip on behalf of the Clinton Foundation while working as Clinton’s Chief of Staff at the State Department. The information raised questions about whether there had been an improper mix between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation. This follows on the heels of the recent uncovering of a handful of emails showing similarly questionable exchanges, which raised further concerns about whether donors to the Clinton Foundation were given access to the State Department or were considered favorably for jobs there.
But with one news cycle after another dominated by the antics of Trump’s campaign, the impact of the emails on Clinton’s poll numbers appear to be negligible. The latest Real Clear Politics average poll has Clinton up by 6.8 points.
And to be fair, Clinton has offered some apologies, though they have been narrow in scope. She apologized in September for not using two separate email servers, and more recently tried to walk back her claim that FBI director James Comey said her email server defenses were "truthful." (He in fact said she had been "extremely careless.") However, claiming she "short-circuited" is hardly an apology.
What I’m looking for is an explanation of this pattern of secrecy that will help me understand why she’s done it, and moreover, why it won’t continue if she becomes president. It would need to be a personal speech, a human one. I can almost half-write it myself — about the effect of being in the media spotlight for so long and how it’s easy to lose your bearings in Washington’s influence machine. Or even a simple, heartfelt apology — not for the various wrongs or ethical slips, but for betraying Americans’ trust, for not respecting the faith we put in our leaders, and for not earning the people’s confidence in her ability to lead nobly. So why hasn’t she done this?
I can think of two reasons. The first is that, at the moment, she doesn’t need to. For every email that might potentially turn off a Clinton supporter, Trump spouts some nonsense that turns off 20 of his. This could change, but right now, from my perspective, there is almost zero political fallout.
Reason number two: There’s lately been speculation that Wikileaks and the Russian hackers who have retrieved many of Clinton’s emails are sitting on an “October Surprise” — an email-based scandal so damning that it could destabilize the election. Politico's Eric Geller and Cory Bennett wrote, "The prospect of a lengthy wait is unnerving for Clinton supporters, who see potential repeats of last month’s mass release of Democratic National Committee emails as one of a handful of unpredictable curveballs that could still toss the White House to Donald Trump."
If some extra-damning story comes out during that time, though, Clinton will have to give the kind of speech I mentioned above. But here’s the thing: She can only give that kind of speech once. She only gets one chance to lay it all out on the table. We know that voters are willing to forgive a first time; it’s much harder to be forgiven twice.
I hope that Clinton and her speechwriters have something locked away inside a cabinet to bring out if they need to. And even if they don’t need to, it would certainly help this Democrat and Clinton supporter rest easier if she made an effort to level with the American people. Maybe I just want her to level with me.
Image: Bustle/Caroline Wurtzel