Hillary Clinton’s Refusal to Play by the Rules

Hillary Clinton just can’t get out of her own way.

In early summer she repeatedly said that she was “not only dead broke, but in debt” after Bill Clinton’s term expired. That was a tough sell considering they left the White House for a five-bedroom home in Chappaqua, N.Y., which they purchased for $1.7 million in 1999, and a seven-bedroom house in Washington, D.C., at a price of $2.85 million.

Worse, she was telling those stories of economic hardship at the same time she was charging well over $200,000 to speak at a number of public universities. To add to the irony, she turned around and college the costs of higher education “one of the biggest problems” facing our country.

Over the past few weeks she has been dogged by investigations into the Clinton Foundation’s finances. The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, in separate examinations, found that the eponymous foundation accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. Those countries included Algeria, Qatar and Oman, each of which was concurrently spending millions to lobby the State Department on foreign policy issues. After Clinton left the Obama Administration, presumably to lay the foundation for a presidential run, other countries, like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has stepped up its donations.

Now comes the latest, and potentially most troubling, scandal: Hillary Clinton’s decision to exclusively use a private email account for the entirety of her tenure as Secretary of State. There are so many things wrong with the practice that it’s difficult to find a place to start. First and foremost, the lax security of a personal server created a serious threat to national security. It also flies in the face of transparency and accountability.

The clintonemail.com domain name was registered just days after she was confirmed as Secretary of State, hinting that this was done intentionally and with a goal of limiting access to her archives. That follows with comments she made during her days in the White House when she said, “As much as I’ve been investigated and all of that, you known, why would I—I don’t even want—why would I ever want to do email.”

And that’s the problem. When serving the nation it’s not just about what you want to do, it’s about what Congress, the courts, and most importantly, the American people are entitled to know. So although Clinton promises that she “want[s] the public to see my email,” she’s yet to provide the State Department will all of her email. Instead, she’s offered up a self-censored fraction – which is exactly the benefit that utilizing a dark account is meant to confer.

Sadly, Clinton’s penchant for secrecy over accountability is nothing new. After all, this is a woman whom the venerable William Safire in 1996 called a “congenital liar” who is “compelled to mislead, and to ensnare her subordinates and friends in a web of deceit.” That history is leading many to question whether Clinton is ready for the bright lights of the presidency. Hill’s Niall Stanage reports:

Democrats are rattled by the deepening furor around Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account while she served as secretary of State.

They worry that the flap is just the latest example of the former first lady’s “bunker mentality” — a decades-long tendency toward secrecy that, more often than not, has blown up in her face.

Some within the party also contend that the controversy has been poorly handled by Clinton’s team, intensifying fears that she has not learned the right lessons from her famously fractious 2008 White House bid.

One Democratic strategist, who asked not to be identified, complained that the email embarrassment was a by-product of “a cadre of enablers around her, and no one has the strength to say to her, ‘We can’t do this.’ ”

Her defiant insularity is set to blow up in her face again, which should engender serious questions about her judgment. After all, it’s clear that the Clinton Foundation erred in accepting foreign donations, which could have impacted foreign policy decisions. It’s clear that she should have stopped giving paid speeches, especially to public universities. It’s clear that if she was going to continue accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars per speaking engagement that she should never have labeled herself “dead broke.” And it’s absolutely crystal clear that she should have followed the law and used a government email address to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

But it’s also clear that the only assessment of right and wrong that matters to Hillary Clinton is her own.