One of the most interesting aspects of the Hillary Clinton email saga is not that she set up a private, homebrew email server, but why she set up the server. After all, setting up this server took a ton of extra work. The State Department, after all, offered to provide her with a secure email for free – but she actually went to a lot of trouble to set up this system. She hired an administrator, found a place to house it, set up her own software, the works.
The fact that she went this far in order to specifically avoid using the State Department’s email system is indicative of some pretty deep-seated issues – issues that we have long known about Hillary, given her long history in the public eye. When you boil it down, there are three basic reasons that Clinton went to all this trouble of setting up her highly improper email server. And before the Trump supporters get too enthusiastic about condemning Hillary, they ought to consider that each of these personality traits applies to Trump with equal force.
1. An obsessive paranoia regarding the press “prying” into her personal life. I know that this is counterintuitive to conservatives – and, indeed, to any normal person – but the Clintons have long been known to harbor the belief that the American press is out to get them and destroy their personal lives. It’s an observation that long time Clinton flack Paul Begala has regularly made, to incredulous, jaw-dropping stares from anyone who will listen. I’m not saying Clinton is right – in fact, just the opposite. I’m saying this is what Clinton honestly believes.
To her, regardless of what the law says, and regardless of what would have been the prudent course of action with respect to complying with record keeping laws, the primary concern was that she remained in control of what information got turned over to the State Department after her tenure and what did not. Concern that the “wrong” emails might find their way into the press was the single, primary driving factor behind Clinton’s decision to set up her private server.
Know who else acts this way? Donald Trump. Donald Trump, who has angrily insisted that his tax returns are “none of anyone’s business,” and who has stonewalled every attempt for months to verify his alleged donations to veterans charities from his Iowa rally. When he was finally forced to come clean, he angrily denounced the press as “dishonest” and “scum.” Donald Trump, who likewise lashed out at both a Federal Judge and the press when documents related to his Trump University lawsuit were released for public review. Donald Trump, whose every rally and every speech contains anti-press conspiracy theories, and who regularly blasts them on his twitter feed as biased against him.
If you think Donald Trump would not have done everything in his power, if he were Secretary of State, to shield his private communications from press scrutiny, then you haven’t been paying attention to Trump.
2. Indifference to the security of others’ information. This is really nothing more than an outgrowth of Hillary’s essential narcissism. By making her own information safe from the prying eyes of the press, she made information belonging to other people (the United States Government) more accessible to hackers and other foreign powers. The bottom line: Other people are insignificant compared to Hillary. Her concerns trump theirs, even if hers are trivial by comparison.
I hardly need to mention proof that Donald Trump is nearly the world’s biggest narcissist, but two examples come to mind that show that Trump absolutely does not care about compromising the private information of others. The first comes from this election season, when Trump got irritated with something Lindsay Graham said or did about him, I don’t even remember what. Now, at no point during this primary was Lindsay Graham even marginally relevant. At no point was he any threat to Donald Trump at all. But that didn’t stop Trump from publicly releasing Graham’s private telephone number to the media and the public.
Another pertains to the Trump University lawsuit, when Trump and his lawyers made the lead plaintiffs’ life a living hell by making her the object of public ridicule and scorn – this was after trying to ruin her by filing a frivolous countersuit against her (which Trump lost in spectacular fashion). Trump has never in his life found anyone else’s concerns to be even close to as important as his.
3. Belief that the rules are not as important as her convenience. The other justification offered by Clinton is that setting up the private email server allowed her to basically have one email address that could be used for both work and non-work reasons, allowing her to more easily email now, ask questions about whether it should be turned over to State later. According to numerous State Department employees who were interviewed by the FBI, concerns were immediately raised about the propriety of the arrangement under State Department regulations, but Clinton’s convenience trumped all.
We have already seen that Trump habitually shortcuts the rules in the name of his own personal convenience. During the course of this campaign season, Trump has used his nonprofit organization the Trump Foundation as a campaign slush fund and conduit for political campaign contributions, an arrangement that flagrantly violates both federal law pertaining to non-profit organizations and campaign finance regulations.
By his own admission, Trump has lived his life as though the rules did not apply to him, greasing the skids with generous donations to politicians (mostly Democrats) along the way. According to him, this makes him uniquely suited to curb abuses of the system. This is contrary to what even the average fifth grader understands about human nature. If a person is corrupt, putting them in a position of power will not make them less corrupt. In fact, it will have exactly the opposite effect. The idea that Trump would have abided by State Department regulations if he felt that they were an impediment to his own personal convenience just beggars the imagination.
Yesterday was, without question, a bad day for Hillary Clinton. The problem for Trump is, it’s difficult to see how he would have done anything different, in her position.