A quick recap: Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, violated guidelines from the National Archives and her own State Department by using her own private email server for professional correspondence, and then destroying whatever messages she deemed destructible.
At first Clinton claimed that she needed a single non-governmental email account for "convenience," because she only had one phone. That claim turned out to be provably false. Next, she claimed that it didn't matter much, because "The vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department." The latter half of that claim turned out to be provably false, too. She further insisted that none of the emails contained classified information, a claim that many people with intimate knowledge of such things—such as a former senior State Department official—described with phrases like "hard to imagine." And her assertion in a CNN interview this month that she went "above and beyond" the email disclosure requirements was—wait for it—false.
In sum, the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential frontrunner brazenly violated government transparency policy, made a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act, placed her sensitive communications above the law, and then just lied about it, again and again. Now comes word that, unsurprisingly, two inspectors general are recommending that the Department of Justice open a criminal inquiry into the matter. One of their findings was that the private server, contrary to Clinton's repeated claims, contained "hundreds of potentially classified emails."*
So how much do Democrats value basic transparency, accountability, and honesty in their presidential candidates? Not bloody much, if you go by the handy polls over at RealClearPolitics. The six national polls taken this January and February, before the email scandal first broke, averaged out to a whopping 43 percentage-point lead for Hillary Clinton. How about the next six, in March and April? Plus 50. The 11 polls in May and June, when Berniementum first started sweeping the country, came in at +48, and the most recent five in July stand at +41.
Do Democrats have any aversion left to Nixonian non-transparency, which had been so anathema to them during the presidency of George W. Bush? Here's a possible bellwether: Key Nixon-administration turncoat John W. Dean, who wrote a 2004 book entitled Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, reacted to the latest Clinton story by tweeting "Leaking This Makes It Pure Politics," and "GOP Behind False Charges In NYT. It's gonna be a long 16 months.
President Barack Obama never paid any political price for pulling a complete 180 on his vows to have the most transparent administration ever, so none of this reaction should be surprising. Still, it's worth stressing that with Hillary Clinton, Democrats have dropped even the pretense of giving a shit about transparency. And if you think that language is unduly harsh, don't take my word for it, take Paul Begala's:
Voters do not give a shit. They do not even give a fart… Find me one persuadable voter who agrees with HRC on the issues but will vote against her because she has a non-archival-compliant email system and I'll kiss your ass in Macy's window and say it smells like roses.
Mark Hemingway wrote about this and other transparency obstacles in "When Open Government Slams Shut."
* UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that, contrary to Clinton's statements, not only were some of the emails classified, they were classified at the time they were sent, which would mean yet another defensive explanation (about retroactive classifications) has bitten the dust. Excerpt:
In a letter to members of Congress on Thursday, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community concluded that Mrs. Clinton's email contains material from the intelligence community that should have been considered "secret" at the time it was sent, the second-highest level of classification. A copy of the letter to Congress was provided to The Wall Street Journal by a spokeswoman for the Inspector General.
The four emails in question "were classified when they were sent and are classified now," said Andrea Williams, a spokeswoman for the inspector general. The inspector general reviewed just a small sample totaling about 40 emails in Mrs. Clinton's inbox—meaning that many more in the trove of more than 30,000 may contain potentially secret or top-secret information. […]
"None of the emails we reviewed had classification or dissemination markings, but some included IC-derived classified information and should have been handled as classified, appropriately marked, and transmitted via a secure network," wrote Inspector General I. Charles McCullough in the letter to Congress.
It's worth rehashing, as the WSJ does, the lie Hillary Clinton told reporters in March:
I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material…I'm certainly aware of the classified requirements and did not send classified material.