ABC The Drum
Given all the Clintons have been accused of, perhaps it's not surprising Hillary Clinton has developed a reputation for being secretive and suspicious. But her use of a personal email address for official business as secretary of state doesn't help.
The Clintons have been accused of many things over the years, including fraud, infidelity and even murder. Now Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of ... having a private email address.
But more on that in a moment.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Clinton's have gained a reputation for not trusting people outside their immediate circle; for being secretive, for dissembling and, at least in Bill's case, staring right down the barrel of a camera and flat out lying to the American people:
I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.
But as president, Bill Clinton had a magic touch. He was the ultimate natural politician who loved everyone and wanted to be loved by everyone in every room he entered. His main failing was that he sometimes found it hard to make tough calls and would rather kick around issues for hours, partly to not disappoint anyone, and partly for the sheer intellectual stimulation. His other failing was his need to sometimes consummate that love.
Bill's great strength was that he craved consensus, and achieved it a number of times on issues like welfare reform, despite a bitterly partisan Congress which went within a breath of booting him from office over the Lewinsky affair. But despite the tawdry soap opera that engulfed his administration in 1998, Clinton's approval ratings soared to 73 per cent by year's end.
Special prosecutor Kenneth Starr and others spent years and millions of dollars digging into the Clinton's lives, their property purchases in Arkansas, Bill's dalliances, Hillary's law firm, and the death of their friend and White House advisor Vince Foster — who some said they had killed.
Despite all of that, or even because of it, Bill Clinton still had an approval rating in the mid-60s as he walked out of the Oval Office in January 2001.
Hillary Clinton isn't Bill. She carries most of the Clinton baggage, with little of Bill's magnetic charm.
Hillary carried the scars of all of the battles she has waged — from her part in the Watergate investigation that ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, all the way through Bill's affairs, and subsequent scandals that earned the "gate" suffix like Troopergate, Whitewatergate, the "Travel-office-gate" and yes, even "Lewinsky-gate".
Ironically, it's not Bill Clinton but Richard Nixon who some fear Hillary would most closely resemble as president. Hillary, like Nixon, is deeply suspicious, loathes the media and may well have an enemies list that goes on for just as long as the one "tricky Dick" had.
Which brings us to "email-gate".
In early 2009, Hillary Clinton had put her sometimes bitter battle for the presidential nomination against Barack Obama behind her — mostly — and had accepted his request to serve as America's chief diplomat, Secretary of State. In doing so, she left her seat in the US senate and her senate email address behind. But instead of setting up a state department email account, Secretary Clinton decided to use a home-based personal account.
Clinton's as-yet-unannounced presidential campaign for 2016 has come under growing pressure in the past week as questions have been asked over whether this was a legal or appropriate thing to do — or indeed a sensible thing to do in terms of email security for potentially very sensitive correspondence about American diplomacy.
Hillary Clinton now says "no classified material" was contained in any of the 63,320 emails she sent and received on the address during four years as Secretary of State. Almost half of them were strictly personal in nature, about yoga classes and her daughter Chelsea's wedding plans.
Those personal emails have all been deleted.
But what else might have been in those deleted emails?
The affair raised a familiar question about both of the Clintons — what are they trying to hide?
The answer, may be nothing.
But how Hillary Clinton responds to this first hitch in her latest presumed campaign will be telling, and the way her critics pile on will also provide something of a warm-up bout for what is shaping up to be another gloves-off contest for the White House in 2016.
This article was originally published at ABC The Drum