Is Email-Gate Going to be Different?

Is Email-Gate Going to be Different?

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Hillary Clinton clearly did the wrong thing in using a private email account and server while she was Secretary of State but she appears to have learned an important lesson from two recent presidents—one of whom was her own husband. When you get caught with your hands in the cookie jar don’t blame it on the cookie maker.

Hillary clearly does not get a pass for acting totally inappropriately in using a private email account to receive State Department business. This behavior reeks of what frustrated  the American people about Bill Clinton, a President who was largely beloved, and the Monica Lewinsky affair. Similarly, it confirmed in many Americans what they always suspected about Richard Nixon; that he was politically grossly insecure.

Clinton dragged the nation through a ludicrous impeachment proceeding which almost certainly would never have occurred had he not let the affair with an intern grow and fester as he issued denial after denial. The nation and his party suffered from his determination to avoid an open admission of infidelity. It is difficult to project what might have been accomplished during Clinton’s last year term if he—the Congress and the country–had not been weighed down by the Republican determination to drag the President through the mud in a fight they knew from the outset they would lose.

In the case of Nixon, had he released the incriminating tapes and or if they even had “disappeared” once the Watergate break-in was exposed, in all likelihood he never would have  been impeached and forced to resign. Nixon was unable to admit his responsibility, put it behind him, and move on. He either believed he would never be caught (false hubris); or he persisted in believing that people his entire life were out to destroy him; or he wanted to preserve the taped record of his Presidency for history; or he was the President and he could ride out any storm.

So it seems that Hillary learned a lesson. Within a matter of days she opted to admit her responsibility for what happened and admit the truth about the emails; in the hope and expectation that her campaign to-be can move ahead.  To what extent email-gate—or any other dirt or stories yet to emerge about her—will contaminate her presidential bid remains to be seen; but she chose a much more immediate tack than two other recent Presidents. 

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