Hillary’s emails, letter to Iran, Facebook slurs: Communication problems worldwide

Mike: Cynthia, why are Democrats so silent on Hillary Clinton’s avoidance of government email for official business?

Cynthia: Because we’re tired of manufactured controversies, and we judge Clinton on her record of international achievement.

Mike: “Manufactured controversy?” If Paul LePage had all his email stored on a privately-owned server, Democrats wouldn’t accuse him of flouting records laws?

Cynthia: I don’t recall an uprising of outraged Republicans or Democrats when Colin Powell used a personal email account as Secretary of State, and while the GOP futilely chases another imaginary Hillary scandal, she fights for things people care about, like when as Secretary of State she worked behind the scenes to undo a forced marriage in Saudi Arabia between an eight year-old girl and a 50 year-old man. Do you think the mother of this girl — or any mother anywhere — cares whether there’s an email on a government server about this?

Mike: So, you’re going with the Barry Bonds corollary? Doing your job absolves potentially illegal actions? That, coupled with a “the other guy did it too!” defense, should get her off nicely.

Democrats should be able to acknowledge Clinton was wrong on this, same as Powell and anyone else doing it. Public records laws and policies are important, whether for congressional investigations, media inquiries, or the historical record. The timing of release may present legitimate grounds for debate, but you don’t get to hide the documents in your basement!

Cynthia: Clinton herself acknowledges that in retrospect the way she managed 60,000-plus emails was not ideal, but that doesn’t mean there’s lurking evil or a smoking gun about the tragic death of Ambassador Stevens in Libya. Secretary Clinton served the United States with distinction and made hundreds of thousands of decisions on behalf of Americans around the globe. Hollow insinuation by Republicans in Washington about Clinton’s integrity and the president’s patriotism are variations of the same tune — pernicious arrogance.

It’s unfortunate the exemplary diplomacy of Clinton and the Obama administration is recklessly being undermined by the GOP. So the letter sent to Iran by 47 Republican senators was created on a government server. Who cares? It was stunningly empty-headed. Dangerous even.

Mike: Soft peddling a mistake — official email wasn’t “convenient” — isn’t leadership. Better to address the concern head-on, admit you were wrong, try to rectify it, and move forward. That isn’t too much to ask of anyone seeking elected office.

The open letter written by those senators was little more than a PR stunt, expressing their displeasure over the proposed deal allowing Iran to maintain a nuclear program. I don’t think they should have done it — it doesn’t accomplish anything other than express their opinion — but I’m not sure how it is “dangerous.”

Cynthia: The world is weary of sophomoric pranks by privileged white Republican men. The letter to Iran was not an opinion piece. It was a sarcastic and naive poke in the eye.

The brouhaha over Hillary’s email is based on a Republican fantasy that email we haven’t seen contains bad stuff. Compare that to the astonishing reality that a freshman Republican U.S. senator had the gall to breach decades of diplomatic protocol and write an insolent and uninformed letter to the leader of Iran at the height of fragile international negotiations about nuclear weapons! A “PR stunt” with the sole purpose to undermine President Obama.

Meanwhile, here in Maine, a GOP state senator posts reprehensible racist “jokes” about the president all over the Internet.

Why are Republicans so silent about stunts like these that threaten peace, democracy and the American way of life?

Mike: Mike Willette was wrong. So he took to the Senate floor to admit his mistake, asked forgiveness, and now we can move on. Exactly what Hillary didn’t do.

I agree with you that the letter was a poke in the eye. But it isn’t dangerous, and it doesn’t threaten peace, democracy, or the American way of life. I do not believe the Iranians were suffering under the delusion that the Republicans were supportive of the administration’s position: see Netanyahu, Benjamin.

But the brouhaha over this letter — “unprecedented!” “destabilizing!” “treason!” — serves as a convenient political foil, although the breathless accusations are a little overdone. Every senator and congressman thinks they should be president — it’s an old joke. Like when Ted Kennedy was secretly meddling with Moscow, or Nancy Pelosi visiting Bashar al-Assad despite the objections of the White House, or Democrats traveling to Iraq to meet with Saddam’s top lieutenants. If this is all so terrible, why hasn’t Congress ever passed a law or rule restraining themselves?

Cynthia: Or better yet, since the GOP professes superiority about foreign affairs, why hasn’t the Congress passed legislation the president requested giving him authority under the War Powers Act to fight ISIS?

Republicans won in November and have accomplished absolutely nothing. Instead of sending pedantic letters about how our Constitution works to foreign heads-of-state, and otherwise behaving like frat boys, the GOP needs a stern memo to itself, sent on a government server.

Mike: You may be onto something, Cynthia. If Congress and the president would quit sniping at each other, maybe they could act in unison against ISIS. Hey, you know what? The secret plan to win that war might be in Hillary’s basement! Someone should probably check.