Ruth Marcus | Memo to Clinton’s wife: When you’re in a hole, stop digging

Ruth Marcus, Washington Post:

Dear Secretary Clinton:

Your e-mail problem has mushroomed from a self-inflicted nuisance to a self-inflicted wound. The reason is simple: At every decision point, you and your staff have made the wrong choice about how to proceed, erring on the side of secrecy and self-righteousness.

The damage can’t be entirely undone. But some of it can be mitigated by doing what doesn’t come naturally to you: admitting some error and accepting that not all the criticism has been fueled by partisan attackers in league with media enablers.

So, Madame Secretary, cut out the Snapchat jokes about your spiffy new account in which “[t]hose messages disappear all by themselves.” Yes, political opponents are out to get you. Yes, we in the media thirst for controversy.

Still, those “everyday Americans” you talk about have understandable qualms about your conduct. It’s not at the top of their agenda. It may not stop them from voting for you. But their concerns are real, and legitimate. This probably won’t interfere with your winning the nomination. It could be a general-election problem.

This is sounding like “That ’90s Show.” You want to wave off the whole thing as the “same old partisan games we’ve seen so many times before.” That may be therapeutic. It’s not politically smart.

The original mistake — deciding to conduct official government business through a private e-mail account for the sake, you say, of convenience — can’t be undone. But you ought to stop — now! — with the unconvincing claim that you did nothing different from your predecessors as secretary of state.


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