Sarah Palin, whom shame and decency dictate should be hiding out somewhere in the back of a dark deep cave with a bag over her head this week, is instead standing on the tippy top of Mt. Hypocrisy with a giant bullhorn yelling, "Look at me!"
Should any of us be surprised? No.
Was I still a little surprised? A little.
Apparently the thought of raking Hillary Clinton (whom Palin thanked in 2008 for putting "16 million cracks in the glass ceiling") over the political coals was just too tempting, just too enticing to put in check her own conscience, or humility. I know. You laugh. Better to expect a hyena to use the right fork.
Perhaps to my own credit, in some idealistic corner of my heart, I didn't think she was actually going to go HERE:
Yes. Sarah Palin said that. For real. Hillary Clinton is "shady and corrupt" for using personal emails to conduct official business.
For those who may not have been paying attention from 2008 - 2011, I should explain that I may be a little sensitive about the whole email issue. I have delved deeper than most into the world of politicians who use personal email accounts to conduct state business avoiding the scrutiny of public records requests. They like to do public work, and be paid by public money, but without the annoying public getting to know what's being done, and holding them accountable for it.
I have sat, in my living room, in my pajamas, with my feet up, sifting through thousands - TENS of thousands of emails on which important state business was being done. The emails I read were not redacted. They were not filtered. There were none omitted from my view. And many of them were sent to, or from private Yahoo! accounts. And at the very time I had my hands on these emails, having contractually agreed they were for my eyes only, major media outlets from across the nation were going through the proper channels, requesting state records and wanting to see the very emails I had - the ones from Governor Sarah Palin - who wanted to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. The "lame stream media" were allowed to see the emails from Palin's official ".gov" accounts after they had been heavily redacted, and more than 2 years later. And they never had access to the emails I did. Yahoo! was a shroud they never got to look behind - firstname.lastname@example.org, among several others used by the governor were off limits. Is that awful and wrong and maddening? YES!
Why did I have them? Because the man who created the accounts, and personally archived them instead of erasing them was Frank Bailey, a member of Palin's administration and inner circle, who decided he wanted people to know what was in those emails and what he'd seen in his years working for Palin. He wanted the story written, and so I helped.
Palin was kind enough to provide a link in her tweet - a link to an article talking about why Hillary Clinton using personal email accounts was a big deal. She didn't write a commentary herself, which was wise considering the circumstances. Instead, she chose to direct her fans to another source. The author of this well-measured third-party political and ethical analysis is none other than Bristol Palin who says the following:
Hillary Clinton was in the headlines last week for using her personal email for government business when she was secretary of state. Her supporters are saying, "who cares?" But even CNN knows why those are important facts to consider in a more-than-likely presidential candidate!
GASP! Quick everyone, go put on some pearls and then clutch them! Run over to your sofa and faint upon it! Can you imagine? A more-than-likely presidential candidate using personal email for government business? And the supporters of that woman saying "who cares?" In the Through the Looking Glass world of the Palins, the irony of Bristol's outrage went the way of those Yahoo! emails - POOF! Oh wait, there they are in that thumb drive on my desk!
Emails are getting to be a big way to see what our officials really think and do, and to hold them accountable. (And can I just say, my mom's emails were examined and they found absolutely NOTHING on her!)
I agree. These email things are "getting to be a big way" of knowing stuff, and any public official who tries to keep people from seeing what they really think and do, well... that's not okay. And can I just point out to Bristol, that the heavily redacted content of some of your mom's emails were examined. And "found nothing" should be determined by those who'd like to read all about it. There"s actually a book. I know about it because it probably took years off the collective lives of its authors.
From the targeted bullying campaign against a private citizen in Juneau, in which the full force of the executive office was brought to bear; to the back biting and personal vendettas that cost people their jobs; to the outright breaking of the law resulting from the coordination of the Palin for Governor campaign and the Republican Governor's Association, then headed by Mitt Romney; there was a smorgasbord of "what they really think and do" in those emails. You should read them some time. Oh, that's right, you CAN'T. Thanks for bringing it up.
Bristol goes on to enumerate Clinton's sins including:
"She violated the spirit of the law. Even if the law wasn't as specific as it is now, isn't it kind of common sense to keep government business on government channels?"
"It shows the opposite of transparency, that all-important government value. Government employees are supposed to use their federal emails so their messages can be archived. With a personal email, there's no accountability. What does she have to hide?"
I could go on, but the self-parody leaves nothing to say. The same thing will happen when Anthony Weiner has a press conference to criticize some Republican for sending a dirty tweet. But that's probably not going to happen.
Bristol then cites Chris Cillizza from the Washington Post, despite the use of one particular word I've highlighted in red for your convenience:
The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton's secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.
So, the only difference between Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin - even by the Palins' own definition - is that Hillary Clinton is far more "sophisticated." She's smart about her lack of transparency, while Palin was kind of a dumbass techno-rube. That should make us all feel much better.
As one of those "hateful bloggers" (Sarah Palin's words) who actually held her accountable for her actions, a common one of which was blatant hypocrisy, I'm not one to let any public official off the hook when it comes to transparency. And here's one way Hillary Clinton was perhaps not so sophisticated. She became secretary of state after the era of the Palin emails. She saw what happened. She's smart enough to understand that there was a political price to pay for doing the very thing she did, and that the sentiment of the nation favored openness and transparency. At the very least, efforts should have been made to avoid the pitfall that swallowed Palin. But then again Hillary Clinton, like Palin, has been known to shoot herself in the foot.
Even if doing her business on personal accounts was "technically legal" for Clinton, it was not ethical or wise. But ethics don't seem to matter as much as they used to, especially with examples like Palin to let politicians understand exactly what they can get away with. Strict legality is the rule of the day, and ethics and morality are quaint when your side violates them, and subject to the bony finger of accusation when the other side does - making them nothing more than partisan boxing gloves, when they should be anything but.
The ethics gymnastics become evident in Bristol's defense of the indefensible. Depending on what sentence you read, the smell test is either 1) the violation of the spirit of transparency (in Hillary's case) or 2) they looked and found nothing wrong, so there (in her mother's).
We know for a fact that both Palin and Clinton concealed. And my guess is that in both cases we will "find nothing." Whether we find nothing because nothing untoward happened, or whether we find nothing because it is simply unfindable, we will never know. And that's the tragedy of the whole thing, and the case for ethics first. Both Palin and Clinton worked for the people, and both used practices that concealed their efforts on behalf of those people from the people themselves.
"How will the same liberals react to Hillary, when it's obvious to everyone that she's done something wrong?" asks Bristol with hand on hip.
Asked and answered.