You almost have to pity Hillary Clinton. She has seen this movie, and now she has to sit through it again. The players are different, but it's the same old plot: The lady arrives to cheers and high spirits, and eventually the lady vanishes.
She was dispatched the last time by Barack Obama, a freshman senator from Illinois with no executive experience, with a checkered past as a "community organizer" who would soon give "incompetence" a bad name.
This time Hillary can blame only herself. She and Bubba have been playing by rules they wrote to suit themselves, rules which apply to nobody but them. The wheel that goes around comes around, and sometimes twice. And this time there's finally a shrinking constituency of Democrats willing to give the lady an even break.
She's counting on the slender hope that nobody out there understands or cares about a lot of geek talk about computers, hard drives, servers, and emails. Everybody hates his computer a good part of the time, anyway, and only in Washington are people actually paying attention to "Hillary Horror Movie, the Sequel."
But if Hillary gives the story a 70 percent discount, her own experts, analysts and consultants don't. She may ride this one out; she has the money to repair, hide and deny a lot of damage. Or this time, maybe not. The number of her suspicious emails, now in the hands of the FBI to see whether she recklessly stored some of the nation's top secrets on her vulnerable private server, have ballooned from four to the hundreds in a matter of days.
The story is no longer limited to web sites of what Hillary famously calls "the vast right-wing media conspiracy" The Washington Times, the New York Post, Fox News, several news sites on the Internet and dozens of blogs but the seepage into the so-called mainstream media threatens to become a torrent.
"Follow the trail here," Bob Woodward of The Washington Post tells MSNBC, "There are all these emails. They were sent to someone, or someone sent them to her. So, if things were erased here, there's a way to go back to these emails, or who received them from Hillary Clinton. You've got a massive amount of data that, in a way, reminds me of the Nixon tapes."
The Nixon tapes, however, dealt with political secrets, some smarmier than others, about how enemies might be brought down and little to medium-sized lies covered up. What the investigators into the Hillary emails are looking for are emails in which Hillary exposed some of the nation's top security secrets.
Some of the messages that have already come to public view have shown that they were "redacted," or edited, to eliminate references to classified information. This raises the question of why she thought the computer system at the State Department was not good enough for her, and why she thought she was entitled to an email system of her own, which she kept at her home in New York. Not even at her other home in Washington.
"I was permitted to and used a personal email," she told Iowa Public Radio last week, "and obviously in retrospect, given all the concerns that have been raised, it would have been probably smarter not to." That's a convoluted way of saying she permitted herself to have what she wanted, and "I wish I hadn't got caught at doing something I shouldn't have been doing."
She's hard at work now spinning the story that we should thank her, not scold her, for finally furnishing her emails two years after she retired as secretary of State. "If I had not asked for my emails all to be made public, none of this would have been in the public arena."
That's bunkum, too. Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House committee investigating Hillary, told interviewers Monday, with a certain heat, that the emails were not "turned over," but "taken." Her surrender to the inevitable is something akin to the bank robber, with hundred-dollar bills sticking out of his pockets, who surrenders without a shootout and expects that to prove his innocence.
Hillary seems rattled, so rattled that she invokes Benghazi to deflect attention from the email scandal. "Here is what I won't do," she said at a rally at "a wing ding" at Storm Lake, Iowa, "I won't play politics with national security or dishonor the memory of those who we lost."
The irony, which she may not appreciate, is that it was the Benghazi investigators who stumbled on to the lady's private server and the emails. Tall oaks from little acorns grow.