Kinsley’s Law, discovered by journalist Michael Kinsley in the 1980s, states that, “The scandal isn’t what’s illegal, the scandal is what’s legal.”
A variant applies to Hillary Clinton and her emails.
The scandal is not that she may have broken rules, it’s that the Democratic Party is allowing her to march unopposed to a coronation.
OK, “scandal” is not exactly the right word. “Travesty” or “outrage” are more fitting.
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Producing presidential candidates is a central function of the modern political party. If one party in the semi-official duopoly of power we have in this country fails to produce a slate of credible candidates in an open election year (no incumbent running for reelection), voters are poorly served.
A pollster friend of mine who knows that I am a hopeless fan of the Chicago Bears reminded me of what Arizona Cardinal’s coach Dennis Green said after losing to the Bears in 2006: “The Bears are what we thought they were.”
The Clintons are what we thought they were. Exactly.
There cannot be a single voter in America that is surprised Hillary is already boiling in a scandal, or pseudo-scandal, depending on your perspective. Love them or hate them, this is what they do and this is what happens to them. Fair or unfair, this is their mythic cycle, their dramatic fate.
Perhaps this is the act that ends Hillary’s performance, but probably not. And perhaps, if she stays in the race, there will be no more scandal dramas before November 2016, but probably not.
The very simple point is that Democratic Party is insane to have put itself in this position – this entirely predictable situation. After all, Hillary did lose to an unlikely newcomer in 2008, Barack Obama. She'll obviously be beatable in a general election.
Some blame the Clintons, which is wrongheaded. It’s not their fault that they scared off all credible opposition and ran the most effective pre-primary of any modern campaign (thus far). That is exactly what they are supposed to do.
It is the job of the party to create competition and breed national candidates of stature. Mock the Republican field if you want, at least it is a field and not just a pitcher’s mound.
I have argued before that the Democrats have become the conservative party in America, the Establishment Party more protective of the status quo and big business than the Republicans. This is yet another sign.
The Democrats are arguably more invested in the Political-Industrial Complex. Their legions aren’t true believers but consultants, lobbyists, vendors, hacks, ambassadors-in-waiting and aspiring political appointees. Not backing Team Clinton is a bad career move. But now they have a problem.
I’ve also made a wacky prediction that Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine will be the Democratic nominee, not Clinton. In that depleted party, he looks like the best Plan B out there.
Hillary’s emails may or may not be a real scandal, but the Democratic Party’s complicity in this coronation certainly is.
Dick Meyer is Chief Washington Correspondent for the Scripps Washington Bureau and DecodeDC (www.newsnet5.com/decodedc).