As Hillary Clinton took questions from the media about the personal email account she used as secretary of state, I felt a flashback coming on. She said she simply chose to use a personal account with a personal server "for convenience." I felt I had traveled back in time to 1998. Washington was screaming across the aisle. First lady Hillary Clinton charged that a "vast right-wing conspiracy" was behind stories that her husband had an affair with Monica Lewinsky. President Bill Clinton denied that he ever had "sexual relations" with the former intern.
Deep down, everyone knew that Bubba was lying. And he was lying. Judge Susan Webber Wright eventually would fine Clinton for giving "intentionally false" testimony during depositions with attorneys representing plaintiff Paula Jones, whose sexual harassment lawsuit nonetheless tanked.
Up until the president was forced to admit that he had lied about Lewinsky, partisans who surely suspected otherwise vehemently argued that Clinton had been truthful. When that ruse crumbled, the knee-jerk defenders used cable news as a nonstop forum for odd debates meant to distract from the core issue.
Did "real people" really care?
Was oral sex sex?
Why should the public care about what the president did if his wife stood by him?
On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton said she set up a private email account simply because it seemed more convenient than carrying two phones — which in her world probably translates into having an aide carry two phones. She said she deleted private emails only. By the way, half of the 60,000-plus emails on the account were personal. Oh, and she deleted them. If she had it to do all over again, she would not have used a private account with a private server, but when she made the decision, the onetime Rose Law Firm attorney said, "this didn't seem like an issue."
Some Clintonistas may feign belief, but they know, contrary to what she told the media, Clinton did not go "above and beyond" what she "was requested to do." We all know why she set up a private account. She didn't want to leave a paper trail. She didn't want the media to get ahold of documents that might require explanation during her inevitable run for the White House in 2016. She didn't want to provide ammunition to rival campaigns. She wanted the prestige of having been secretary of state without having to stick to the documentation rules that applied to administration officials, including the White House.
Everyone knows the "convenience" excuse is a ruse, but to admit as much is to admit that the Clintons have a strained relationship with candor. So let the faux debates begin.
Do "real people" really care?
Was there an enforceable law broken?
Why shouldn't the former Cabinet member be able to delete emails about her yoga routines?
The Clintons have learned that when they decide they are above the truth, there are always apologists who will say anything to defend them. Or at least there always used to be.