Hillary Clinton is struggling to manage the scandal that has erupted over her unprecedented use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. She "regrets" not following the rules, and is "sorry that this has been confusing to people." As Clinton has previously said, her biggest weakness is that the American people are too stupid to realize why she deserves to be president.
If Hillary's response to the scandal has come across as incoherent and dishonest, it's because those are the two words that most accurately characterize her response to the scandal. In fact, political constraints have prevented her from speaking coherently and honestly about the issue. Freed of those constraints, here's what she might say:
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I would like to take a moment to address the so-called "scandal" surrounding my use of a private email account during my time as secretary of state, when I traveled to more than 100 countries and logged more than 950,000 miles promoting the interests of the United States.
Upon joining the State Department, I made a conscious decision to forgo a government email account and rely exclusively on a personal email address hosted on a private server. This was an unprecedented decision, as no other secretary of state had ever used a private account exclusively. It was a decision I made not out of convenience, not out of technological ignorance, but out of necessity.
I made this decision because my entire tenure as secretary of state was, in a way, unprecedented. I was the first former first lady to serve, and easily one of the most prominent public figures to hold the position. I was the first sitting secretary of state to have overseen a global charity conglomerate that has raised billions of dollars to save lives and improve the well-being of women and girls in developing countries.
Throughout my entire career in public service, my husband and I have been the targets of relentless and unfair scrutiny from a voracious and profoundly unethical media machine, as well as vicious right-wing conspiracy whose sole focus is to distort the truth and tarnish our reputations. Our personal lives have been invaded, and our all too human desire—our right—to privacy has been trampled on and demonized.
My decision was based on my belief that all Americans, even those—especially those—who eschew great fortune to pursue careers in public service, deserve a modicum of personal control in deciding what aspects of their private lives should be expose to the public. I simply did not trust the media and the vast network of right-wing groups to treat me fairly under normal circumstances. I made this decision because I have spent the last eight years laying the groundwork for my second presidential campaign, and have even orchestrated the birth of a strategic grandchild. I thought this would help, but I was wrong.
Often times great leaders, and great philanthropists, have to push the boundaries of the so-called "rules" in order to be successful. Without the proper context, I couldn't possibly expect everyday Americans to understand the unique demands that come with being a former first lady and senator, a global icon for women's rights, a best-selling author, a successful public speaker, a charity entrepreneur, and secretary of state. If I had permitted access to all of my emails, I might have been wrongfully accused of acting "inappropriately."
I fully anticipated that my email habits might be the subject of some unwarranted controversy, but I appear to have overestimated the ability of the American people to empathize with my unique predicament. The truth is, the current "scandal," overblown as it may be, is probably not as sensational as the "scandal" that would have erupted if I had played by the rules and stood aside as my personal life was eviscerated by the Koch brothers, as my hard choices were stripped of their context and a fed to the emaciated dogs of the press.
In retrospect, I should have at least considered the fact that my use of a private email server might have had national security implications. In my defense, not a single one of my closest advisers ever challenged me on this issue. I was—we were—simply more caught up in solving America's problems and doing everything we could to ensure I would be president someday. Because nothing would put our national security more at risk than electing a Republican in 2016.
Look, the truth is, as recently as 2008, America was still a country that would rather be governed by an inexperienced man who makes vague promises than by a successful woman who is unfairly maligned for a perceived inability to project "authenticity." I hope we've moved beyond all that.
Thank you, and God bless America.