Thursday, March 22 , 2018, 12:17 am | Overcast 58º


Susan Estrich: Why No One Cares About Hillary Clinton’s Emails

I have watched the paid chatterers shaking their bobbed heads or frowning their well-practiced frown or just grimacing in frustration as they lament the seeming foolishness of the “American people” in not responding with greater shock and awe to the growing revelation that Hillary Clinton used her private email system to forward nonclassified information with notes such as “interesting” or “worth pursuing” to her top national security aide.

Shocking. Forwarding nonclassified material. I’m horrified. Seriously, I’m not.

To be honest, and this is shocking, I think I’m with the “American people” on this one.

Who cares?

And if it’s about the Clintons, really who cares? If you don’t have enough information now to form an opinion on Hillary’s character or fitness for high office, then, for goodness’ sake, some emails from Sidney Blumenthal aren’t going to do the trick.

In my experience, everyone in positions of power gets emails from Blumenthal. I did, back then. I’m sure I forwarded them with an appropriate note. Arrest me.

Seriously, the frustrating indifference of the polled public to the scandal of the secretary of state’s home email system underscores the challenges that are going to face the lucky Republican nominee. Teflon doesn’t begin to describe it.

It’s not that people think it was right for the secretary of state to use a private system. You’d think the Clintons would know by now that nothing in their universe will ever be private, and that is a measure both of its significance and our curiosity.

Would it have been better to use the “official” system? Of course. And should they have dumped the whole thing at the appropriate government doorstep the minute the story broke, rather than letting it drip out day by day as if there was more to hide than the Blumenthal dispatches? Of course.

But would that have been the Clintons we love, hate, tolerate or ignore? No matter how long they’ve been in the spotlight, they do this. And the Republicans overdo it, and then it goes away.

Because it doesn’t matter that much. That’s the truth of it. It doesn’t.

If you didn’t know the Clintons, you’d worry that maybe this pointed to some more important flaw, or that there might be something of significance in the emails. But knowing the Clintons, you know this has absolutely nothing to do with Hillary’s ability to face the problems in Libya or the Middle East.

It’s not a reflection of her competence. Unknown candidates have to prove their competence, and even small mistakes (Remember when George W. Bush flubbed the “world leader” test?) take on larger meaning for the simple reason that they’re all we have to go on. When we don’t have two decades of experience to inform us, we need signs.

The challenge for the Republican contenders is that they face the silly season in which a dozen candidates, most of whom have no business being on the stage if its purpose is to test the acumen of a future president, will be treated as equals, introduced as a future president, which, in some cases, is a really absurd notion. And when they’re all standing on the same stage, you can’t help but wonder who would make the best future host on Fox News.

In the meantime, on the merits, the candidates are tripping over each other to appeal to a branch of their party they will largely flee by the time one of them is doing the big debate next year — by which time Hillary’s emails should be long forgotten.

Susan Estrich is a best-selling author, the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the USC Law Center and was campaign manager for 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. Click here to contact her or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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