The Hillary Clinton e-mail mess is surely the first in a series of scrutinies that the presumed 2016 presidential candidate will face in her run to the White House. Late last week Clinton announced she would not give over her e-mail server to an independent third party — and that she wiped it clean after turning over the relevant messages. The sever supposedly contained 60,000 emails from her time as Secretary of State, though she claims nearly half were personal and not related to government business.
Though she hasn’t officially announced a run for the executive office in 2016 — yet — Clinton has been rumored and is the leading presumptive candidate along with Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Political observers have already begun speculating that the e-mail controversy is a major reason for her delayed announcement, and that the sandal has hurt her campaign before it’s even truly begun.
More than a year before the respective conventions are set to nominate candidates for president, the heat is likely to just get hotter. If Clinton does have something to hide, specifically related to the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, it should come out, and she needs to come clean as soon as possible to remove any tarnish that may have stuck. Though she is one-half of the intensely and closely watched Clinton couple, it’s now her in the spotlight — and Hillary’s turn to shoulder the brunt of examination.
But is she prepared for that level of scrutiny? It’s an open question at this point, though Clinton severely is lacking transparency. While she claims to want to be a progressive leader, this is not the way to begin a presidential run or gather a broad coalition of independent and liberal voters.
Republicans and the right wing who have been after both Clintons for decades can’t wait to dig their claws into Hillary with anything that can stick. An embarrassing e-mail being discovered or a scandal during her campaign has them licking their chops, waiting to pounce and rehash all the reasons they believe she and her husband are not fit to serve in office or be elected to powerful positions.
Clinton’s candidacy, assuming she does run, would add her name to just a handful of women who have run for president. And if she did win the office, Clinton would join an even smaller group of women leaders worldwide. She was recently the subject of the BBC documentary “Hillary Clinton: The Power of Women,” which was broadcast last week.
Maybe it’s a simplistic question, but why aren’t there more female leaders in politics? And not just in this country, but also around the globe in other democracies? Women now occupy powerful positions in many traditionally male-dominated industries and sectors, so why do they not exert clearer influence on politics? Is there something about facing intense and sometimes straight-up mudslinging attacks that keep more women from running for office?
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Not suggesting that women are weaker or can’t handle the criticism or can’t stand the heat and need to get out of the kitchen. But a woman in Clinton’s position — though she has been through the ringer, and maybe because of it — is still a mother and likely protective of her family and their private information. It could be that mothers as heads of families are not as willing to expose the intimate details of family life, and in addition, American culture tends to be more approving of men in leadership and more forgiving of men’s missteps.
Evidence from polling data suggests the e-mail scandal may already have tarnished her reputation. Though Clinton remains a top contender for the Democratic party nomination, if there is even a scintilla of e-mail evidence that could hurt her candidacy, she should realize it’s best for the left-leaning in this country that she not run. Biden and Warren are fine candidates — though likely to face similar scrutiny — just not with the Clinton controversy brand attached. And the less polarizing a nominee is could significantly solidify the Democrats chances of winning the White House, which, let’s face it, are pretty much guaranteed because of the mess that is the Republican party. Unfortunately for Clinton, and similar to her previous run for the nomination in 2008 when she was bested by Barack Obama, she may again be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.