Hillary Clinton comes clean

  • By Rich Lowry
  • Sunday, September 13, 2015 10:05pm
  • Opinion

In an ABC News interview, Hillary Clinton apologized for using a private email while secretary of state, a notable departure after months of not letting the slightest crack show in her steadfast public defense of her arrangement.

The interview was progress. But she has a lot to apologize for. A more fully and properly contrite Hillary might sound something like this:

I’ve repeatedly said that my private system was permitted by the State Department. As anyone who has done a little Googling knows, the State Department’s manual for employees has said since 2005 that day-to-day business should be conducted on the authorized system. When I said “permitted,” I merely meant that no one physically stopped me. I take responsibility for this misunderstanding.

Please forgive me for trying to excuse my classified communications — the ones, it pains me to recall, I used to insist never occurred. Yes, the material wasn’t marked “classified,” but the emails couldn’t be marked “classified” because I had my own system bypassing the formal process whereby they could be so designated. As for my contention that the material was only classified retroactively, much of it was “born classified,” and I had the obligation to recognize it as such and handle it properly. In this, I simply let everyone down. I promise to do better next time.

I’m sorry I said that Colin Powell did the same thing I did. He didn’t. Of course, he never set up a private server. Moreover, as he explained on “Meet the Press” the other day, Secretary Powell had two computers on his desk, one for classified material, the other for routine communications. I regret the error.

The State Department cable under my signature reminding all employees to “avoid conducting official Department business from your personal email accounts” was, I must confess, a bit rich. I apologize to anyone offended by my hypocrisy.

I hate to think that the State Department pushed out our ambassador to Kenya, Scott Gration, in part for unsecure email practices not so different from mine. Mr. Ambassador, I owe you one.

I definitely shouldn’t have stymied every single Freedom of Information Act request pertaining to my emails, thus rendering this sunshine-in-government measure completely inoperative. What was I thinking?

I never should have said “I went above and beyond what was expected.” If I had been more careful with my words, I might have said I defied every reasonable expectation. I didn’t turn any of my official records over to the State Department as required when I stepped down as secretary of state, and didn’t make any gesture toward complying with the rules until my secret email was exposed. Then, I deleted half my emails — as permanently as I could manage. All on me. I humbly beg your pardon.

And I know I’ve said I “want the public to see my email.” I sincerely regret my lack of sincerity.

I want to apologize to all those people professionally obliged to defend me, who have had to ignore the facts and jettison common sense to justify what I did. I have long relied, especially, on David Brock’s willingness to say or do anything on my behalf, but this time I required too much even of him. David, please forgive me.

I now realize my jokes about this matter were tone-deaf and dismissive. Let me assure you that my new plan for spontaneous humor does not include any more material about my email and server, even though I’m confident it is all absolutely killer.

In short, mistakes were made — and I made them.

Now, my political standing is plummeting practically by the hour, an avowed socialist is gaining on me in the early nomination states, and my weakness may entice Vice President Joe Biden into the race as a more viable general-election candidate. For all of this, I am more sorry than you can imagine and beyond my words to express.

Rich Lowry can be reached via e-mail: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com

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