Hillary Clinton clearly isn’t going to get any help from the White House as she battles her way out from under a pile of questions about her email server.
Last night, on 60 Minutes, the President gave his traditional, yearly softball interview to whoever is still alive on the 60 Minutes staff. In it, he was asked about Hillary’s “email scandal, claimed that he “didn’t know” about her server – which is probably a legitimate argument given that he finds out about more serious scandals, paging through the Sunday New York Times looking for the crossword puzzle – but that what Hillary did is a “serious mistake” and questions about it are essentially political ones, but that an investigation is entirely “legitimate.”
KROFT: Did you know about Hillary Clinton’s use of private… private email server —
KROFT: — while she was secretary of state?
KROFT: Do you think it posed a national security problem?
OBAMA: I don’t think it posed a national security problem. I think that it — it was a mistake that she has acknowledged. And, you know, as a general proposition, when we’re in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data. And, you know, she made a mistake. She has acknowledged it. I do think that the way it’s been ginned-up is, in part, because of politics. And I think she’d be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly, but…
KROFT: What was your reaction when you found out about it?
OBAMA: You know, this is one of those issues that I think is legitimate, but the fact that, for the last three months, this is all that’s been spoken about is an indication that we’re in presidential political season.
KROFT: Do you agree with what President Clinton has said and… and Secretary Clinton has said, that this is not that big a deal. Do you agree with that?
OBAMA: Well, I’m not going to comment on…
KROFT: You think it’s not that big a deal?
OBAMA: What I think is that it is important for her to answer these questions to the satisfaction of the American public. And they can make their own judgment.
Ultimately, answering questions to the “satisfaction of the American public” is going to be hard for Hillary Clinton to do without walking back many of her earlier statements (including the ones she made indicating that the White House was totally cool with her bathtub server). The President is basically challenging her to come clean, which is definitely a political risk that benefits the Obama Administration over Hillary’s impending nomination.
Overall, though, this was just one “damage control” effort in a series of them. The interview turned to more serious topics, like the war in Syria, and whether Obama was satisfied with his efforts to handle that hot potato. If you recall, the Administration’s answer was to arm moderate Syrians in an effort to stop Assad and to head off a potential threat from ISIS. He even made a public show of signing the bill authorizing the effort, after speaking directly to the American public about the importance of his plan. He even, along with Vice President Joe Biden, made personal calls to whip the votes necessary to land the authorization, assuring skeptics on both sides of the aisle that the plan was utterly foolproof and exactly what was needed to bring peace to a war-torn country.
We spent a whopping $500 million on that program. The results speak for themselves, of course. Syria is less stable than it was before we got involved, and our efforts trained about 50 “moderate” Syrians who ultimately gave up the fight when it proved too difficult. We also seemed to have dropped weapons into Syria, made a few promises, and then never delivered anything significant, aaaaaaaand this is probably why. I suppose the good news is that the Obama Administration is admitting they made a mistake, though this seems like it should be a more serious admission than a few throwaway comments to a prime time CBS anchor no one watches. People’s lives were lost. A massive refugee crisis ensued. Russia ultimately got involved, makeing Syria even more complicated.
But, wait…he knew about that, too.
“Historically fabulous leadership.”
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