Monday, April 11, 2016


The Clinton defense; It depends on what the meaning of the word (fill in the blank) is.

It worked for Bill in 1998: (See Bill Clinton and the Meaning of "Is")

Years from now, when we look back on Bill Clinton's presidency, its defining moment may well be Clinton's rationalization to the grand jury about why he wasn't lying when he said to his top aides that with respect to Monica Lewinsky, "there's nothing going on between us." How can this be? Here's what Clinton told the grand jury (according to footnote 1,128 in Starr's report):

"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the--if he--if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not--that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement....Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true."

The distinction between "is" and "was" was seized on by the commentariat when Clinton told Jim Lehrer of PBS right after the Lewinsky story broke, "There is no improper relationship." Chatterbox confesses that at the time he thought all these beltway domes were hyperanalyzing, and in need of a little fresh air. But it turns out they were right: Bill Clinton really is a guy who's willing to think carefully about "what the meaning of the word 'is' is." This is way beyond slick. Perhaps we should start calling him, "Existential Willie."

So, it's now Hillary's turn; 

Hillary Clinton has never, really, had a good answer for questions about her decision to set up a private email server to handle all of her correspondence during her four years as the nation's top diplomat.

"Convenience" she insisted when the existence of the server first went public. That morphed into a defiance that, eventually and inevitably, turned into an apology for making an innocent and careless mistake. Now, as the political world waits for the findings from the Justice Department's investigation into Clinton's server, the man who beat her in 2008 is offering some guidance to his former foe about how to deal with this whole mess.

In a recent interview President Obama offered and alternative explanation;

"I continue to believe that she has not jeopardized America’s national security," President Obama said during an interview on "Fox News Sunday". He then added (at some length):

Now what I’ve also said is that —and she has acknowledged — that there’s a carelessness, in terms of managing e-mails, that she has owned, and she recognizes.

So now we can say Hillary was just "conveniently careless."

Obama's basically saying: Yeah, Clinton made a mistake. But do we really think she intentionally did anything wrong?

The "let's-be-realistic" approach Obama just tried could be a powerful line of reasoning for the small group of independent voters who don't know what to make of this, writes Fix Boss Chris Cillizza. It broadens the debate away from the nitty-gritty details of her problematic private server use.

 And now we come to the classic Clinton defense; 

"There's classified, and then there's classified."

What does that mean? 

Well, Clinton has been arguing the problem isn't with her; it's that the government is too eager to classify information that doesn't really need to be secret.

So how does that work?  (here are the rules) — it's complicated. There's a ton of fine print, including a memorandum from Obama in 2010, on what content government employees should mark as classified (Something a foreign official told you? Yes. Information that might embarrass a government official or cover up wrongdoing? No.)

The more confusion there is about a process, the more room there is for either side to make their case about whether Clinton did or didn't do anything wrong. We may soon found out what the FBI thinks about all this.