Almost a month ago, in a post titled “Ten Ethics Questions For Unshakable Hillary Voters,” I wrote,
Hillary could have said, when this first arose, “I am sorry. I was foolish and irresponsible, and I never should have used a private system for official business. It was a serious breach, and I will cooperate completely by turning over all of my e-mails to the State Department.” That she didn’t can only mean 1) that she has something really bad to hide, 2) she isn’t sorry, 3) is stupid, 4) just reflexively lies whenever she is in trouble, and arguably all of them. Do you think someone like that should be President under any circumstances?
Grasping that this was a problem, the Democratic Party agents posing as objective reporters—that is, most of them—set out over the last month to nudge, hint, push, cajole and beg Mrs. Clinton to apologize for her e-mail fiasco whenever she allowed herself to be interviewed, which wasn’t often. Her responses still ranged from disdain (“With a cloth?”) to outright refusal (“I did nothing wrong”) to carefully calibrated deceit (“It wasn’t the best choice”) while her campaign and surrogates blamed the entire controversy on the GOP and officially termed it “nonsense.” Undaunted, and apparently convinced that even now, an apology from Clinton would magically make the problem go away, or perhaps more accurately, they would allow the apology to make the problem go away, the media kept pushing,either not comprehending or choosing to ignore the fact that the apology I hypothesized would have only been effective if it had been Hillary’s immediate response when her use of a private server was revealed, and not a mere Plan F after all the denials, lies and spin had failed.
Plan E was an insulting non-apology, as Hillary told Andrea Mitchell that she was sorry…that the matter had “been confusing to people,” and that “there are answers” without actually providing any. (Mitchell didn’t feel that it was seemly to ask for these answers as a real journalist might, because, as she explained later, she was afraid it might upset Hillary’s campaign, and heaven forbid that she would do that.) Frustrated, the Hillary-enabling news media asked her to apologize again—We’re your friends, Hillary, don’t you see that? Just say the magic words “I’m sorry” somewhere in the vicinity to “private server” and we’ll do the rest, we swear, just as we have buried the implications of your greedy influence peddling through your foundation!–and finally, to ABC’s David Muir, she sort of allllllmost did so, in one of the ugliest, most insincere apologies I’ve ever seen, heard or read.
As I had guessed, the news media decided Plan F was the best they were going to get, and began implementing their plan to treat this awful half apology as if it settled the issue. Here’s Chris Cilizza, the supposedly non-partisan Post political reporter, writing about Hillary’s falling poll numbers:
It’s uniquely possible that we are looking at the nadir of Clinton’s numbers. Her straight-up apology this week for having used a private e-mail server when she was secretary of state suggests that she may finally be listening to advisers (and donors) who see the issue causing major erosion in her numbers.
“Straight up apology?” That’s what Cilizza calls “straight up”? A scripted, grudging statement that essentially apologizes for the fact that deflection plans A-E didn’t work ( “I do think I could have and should have done a better job answering questions earlier”) while insisting that what she did was “allowed” and, ludicrously for a secret server, “above board,” followed by a robotic “I made a mistake” (what was the mistake?) and a rote “I’m sorry”?
That’s not a “straight up” apology in any way. There’s no remorse, no acknowledgment of harm, no acceptance of consequences, not even an honest characterization of the act itself: this was no accident. What she did was deliberate, and it is only a “mistake” because she can’t avoid legitimate criticism for it, and she was sure that she could. Clinton’s “sorry” that she wasn’t able to get away with it; nothing in her “apology” suggests otherwise.
Most unsatisfying, however, is the fact that she and her surrogates have been lying to the public for months. That is a large part of the wrong here, and Clinton hasn’t apologized for that at all. Cilizza and the other enabling reporters are willing to let her escape without any penalties for this, or even the indignity of having it pointed out, thus establishing the standard that the only bad lie is the one that doesn’t work—the Clinton Standard.
Fortunately, there are some journalists who are more demanding and capable of doing their job than Cilizza. At Politico, left-leaning commentator Jack Shafer joins the Ethics Hero ranks (along with Ron Fournier, whose “19 Questions” for Hillary regarding her e-mails should be adopted by every journalist covering this story) with this ray of unbiased illumination:
After six months of indignant responses, classic stonewalling, legalistic prevarication, dismissive jokes and a sustained and coordinated counter-attack by her allies, she finally capitulated to critics yesterday, telling David Muir of ABC News that running a personal email account and server during her tenure as Secretary of State was a “mistake” and that she was “sorry about that.”
Hillary’s regret came exactly one day after she told the Associated Press she had no reason to apologize, downplaying the email controversy as a “distraction.”
She also used the ABC News interview to apologize for previous, inadequate attempts to explain her conduct. “I really didn’t perhaps appreciate the need to do that,” she said. But even in this minor act of self-criticism, Clinton reflexively added the qualifying word of “perhaps” to pave an escape route should she need to abandon the apology six months from now. “I take responsibility,” she added, which is politician-speak for, “Now, will you leave me alone?”
You can decide for yourself how sincere these devious and dissembling comments by Clinton are. What interests me is how dramatically this turnaround ditches the surrogates who rushed to the airwaves and to defend her conduct. In early March, when the story broke, Clinton defenders (and intimates) David Brock, Lanny Davis, Maria Cardona, Jennifer Granholm, James Carville and Karen Finney advanced with absolute certainty that the Clinton email/server story was, in Granholm’s words, “just a nothingburger.” Brock’s pro-Clinton advocacy organization Correct the Record called the email affair a “manufactured controversy” and a “tempest in a teapot.” Carville called the email dispute “made up” and Clinton a victim of a double standard (“Colin Powell does the same thing. Jeb Bush does the same thing.”). About the emails, Davis said, “All preserved. And if deleted you know they can be found.” Cardona had so much faith in Clinton that she said, “I don’t think she needs to say anything more until she actually announces her campaign.”
Clinton has now conceded on national TV that the email story is not quite a nothing burger. It’s actually a Royale With Cheese—maybe a Double Royale With Cheese and Pineapple. Nothing was “manufactured” and indeed, yes, some of the emails were deleted.”
In other words, Clinton and her mouthpieces were lying. Until she acknowledges that directly and promises never to do it ag..(I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but I can’t even write that without laughing so hard that I can’t see the keyboard with all the tears fogging up my glasses)—okay, at least until she acknowledges and apologizes for her tactics, she hasn’t apologized in any substantive or sincere way, and shouldn’t be forgiven.
She can never, of course, be trusted.
Finally, Shafer is concerned about the “betrayal” Clinton’s reversal of course constitutes for her “friends”:
“You defend them, you defend them some more, you lie down in front of tanks for them and then—when you least suspect it—they reverse gear and betray you.”
Is he seriously sympathetic with their plight? As for me, I embrace again playwright’ George S. Kaufman’s definition of non-concern…
“[O]n Mount Wilson there is a telescope that can magnify the most distant stars up to twenty-four times the magnification of any previous telescope. This remarkable instrument was unsurpassed in the world of astronomy until the construction of the Mount Palomar telescope, an even more remarkable instrument of magnification. Owing to advances and improvements in optical technology, it is capable of magnifying the stars to four times the magnification and resolution of the Mount Wilson telescope – Mr Fisher, if you could somehow put the Mount Wilson telescope inside the Mount Palomar telescope, you still wouldn’t be able to detect my interest in your problem.”
Brock, Davis, Cardona, Granholm, Carville, Finney, Paul Begala, Sen. McCaskill and the rest voluntarily used their name, reputations and credibility to deceive the American people and advance Hillary Clinton’s lies. They deserve nothing but shame and contempt. Of course the Clintons betray their defenders. If they weren’t the kind of people who embarrassed their defenders, they wouldn’t need defenders at all.