SYNDICATED COLUMN: Hillary Is So Sorry She Wasn’t Sorry Sooner Poor Hillary.

First they beat her up for refusing to apologize over the stupid/wrong/probably illegal way she mismanaged her emails as secretary of state.

Now they’re beating her up for apologizing. (About this “they”: I’m one of them.)

This is what happens when you get stuck between two competing public-relations imperatives.
On the one hand, as Clinton wrote in her memoir: “In our political culture, saying you made a mistake is often taken as weakness.” She’s right. On the other, it’s better to lance a boil than to let it fester. If everyone knows you messed up, admit it. The sooner you apologize, the sooner it becomes old news. Get out in front of bad news — if it’s going to get out no matter what, people would rather hear it from you than about you. (Classic case study: Johnson & Johnson was transparent and proactive in its response to the Tylenol tampering attacks.)

It’s hard to think of how Hillary could have done a worse job reacting to the news that she kept her emails as secretary of state on a private server in a closet at her home in Chappaqua.

First she tried to game the system. As a likely 2016 presidential contender, she knew there was “a vast right-wing conspiracy” out to get her. Given the heat that was going to be on her, why didn’t she tell her IT people to handle her emails in scrupulous over-compliance with government regulations?

Second, she was defensive, wondering why people didn’t trust her. Listen, Hillary, it isn’t personal: we don’t trust politicians. Especially those who seem to have something to hide. Which you did since, after all, you were hiding stuff.

Third, she dragged her feet. It took months before she turned over some of her emails to the State Department. It took more months before she coughed up the server.

Then there was August’s subject-free half-apology, in which she said that the private server “wasn’t the best choice.” Better to issue no apology at all than one measured in fractions.

This week’s apology came months too late and thousands of emails too little.

Like her vote in support of invading Iraq in 2003, this fiasco has hobbled her presidential campaign, hurt her poll numbers (especially among progressive Democrats, who are gravitating toward Bernie Sanders) and cast doubts about her judgment.

It’s hard to beat Barack Obama when it comes to getting out in front of bad news — he admitted using pot and cocaine back in 1995 (in his memoir), before he entered politics at all. His history of illegal drug use wasn’t an issue in 2008. Still, I’m sure that, if I were Hillary, I would have coughed up the server — and all the emails, including the personal yoga plans and Chelsea wedding ones — as soon as EmailGate broke. She’d have to do it sooner or later; sooner is better during a presidential campaign.

Still, I have some sympathy for Hillary’s dilemma. Because, like it or not, we do not reward the penitent.

I’ve faced a number of controversies over my cartoons. The only time a cartoon got me well and truly hosed, however, was after I apologized for it. I was wrong, I admitted it, and I thought people would appreciate my humanity. Wrong.

Like Hillary, I learned that regrets are for wimps — public regrets, anyway. It’ll be a frosty day in Hades before I make that mistake again.

I’ve been pressuring Hillary to apologize for her Iraq War vote. After all, she contributed to the deaths of at least a million people. She should have known better. She probably did know better, cynically backing an unjustifiable war in the charged right-wing nationalism following 9/11. (Though…why? She was a senator from New York, a liberal state that didn’t support the war.)

At this point, however, the political analyst in me knows that it’s too late for Hillary to come clean from her pet bloodbath. She should have admitted it years ago — before she and Obama destroyed Libya too.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for, is the author of the new book “Snowden,” the biography of the NSA whistleblower. Want to support independent journalism? You can subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)


10 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Hillary Is So Sorry She Wasn’t Sorry Sooner

  1. Couple of thoughts, here –

    “As a likely 2016 presidential contender, she knew there was “a vast right-wing conspiracy” out to get her.”

    Yeah, that’s part of my problem with this – the same people screaming bloody murder about Hillary’s server turned a blind eye to the Bush admin playing fast & loose with email. It’s hard to take ’em seriously when it’s obvious they aren’t interested in justice but rather character assassination. They should hold all politicos to the same standards or GTFO.

    I’m a little divided on the Iraq War Resolution (and welcome discussion). Congress was fed the same pack of lies as the rest of us, and in fact the resolution mentions his WMDs as justification. It wasn’t a declaration of war, but rather an authorization to use force if all other avenues were exhausted. From a strategic standpoint it makes perfect sense. It’s the difference between threatening to buy a gun and holding a gun in your hand.

    We The People were afraid & calling for blood, and after all our Senators are (supposedly) representatives. Had I been in the Senate I may well have made the same vote. We now know that Bush lied and misused the power he was given, but that’s just 20/20 hindsight.

    So, my thinking is that I can forgive someone for casing an ‘aye’ vote. But TODAY, the right thing for a congresscritter to do would be do lay the blame at Bush’s feet, admit you were mislead, mumble something about “if I knew then what I know now” and move on. However, as Ted rightly points out, too damn many of the electorate see that as either flip-flopping or a sign of weakness. They’d complain that s/he shouldn’t have been mislead in the first place even though they, themselves were as well.

    • CH,

      As I recall (and, yes, I may have misremembered part of this), the big problem was that the “authorization to use force if all other avenues were exhausted” uh, “exhausted” “all other avenues” in the space of about a week and a half.

      Also, as I recall, those who actually were knowledgeable about the issues and players in that part of the world all scoffed at the idea that Osama bin Laden and Iraq were in cahoots.

      Hans Blix, again, as I recall, wanted more time and was told that it simply couldn’t be done.

      I say “as I recall” because, honestly, the media did such a pisspoor job of covering these issues and there was so much “9/11 was an inside job” nonsense that I can’t be confident on my recall of the particulars.

      I think the people who voted “for” on this did so as calculated political actions to advance or sustain their careers. If that means stepping over a few million dead people, hey, you gotta break a few eggs to make a fourth-quarter-profit omelet.

      • I remember watching Blix ant the team of inspectors boarding the plane to evacuate and I was thinking:

        Isn’t this an invitation for an invasion? What if they remained as a dare to the U.S.? (Don’t you think would have made a difference?)

    • Personally speaking, I was demonstrating in the streets against the pending invasion of Iraq and never did believe the lies of the Bush administration.

      That’s why I’m in the Bernie Sanders camp — he voted against the invasion and his views are consistent with mine.


    • By I what I misremember, by the time the invasion started, Blix was saying that there wasn’t anything else to be found. Bush’s threats did open the last few doors and they’d seen everything there was to be seen.

      I keep thinking of the Robocop scene where they’re demonstrating ED-209. He says “Put down your weapon” and the VP complies. ED says “Put down your weapon” again and the VP starts looking around scared as everyone else backs away. ED says “I’m now authorized to use force” and blows him away even though the VP put down his weapon as ordered.

      I admire Bernie for voting ‘no;’ I did not believe that Iraq was a threat; and I demonstrated as well – for all the good it did. I just have some sympathy for those senators who got caught between a Iraq and a hard place. (Sorry) (not really 😉

  2. I always remember arguing with a Hillary supporter in ’08 about the ‘aye’ vote. Her contention was that as a woman, Hillary was even more vulnerable to the “admitting a mistake=weakness” attack. To which my reply is “So your argument is I should vote for a woman who is less able to admit a mistake than *George W. Bush*”?

    Also to the previous comment: It’s important to remember that *not* everyone was misled. That Barack Obama wasn’t is a big reason he’s president today. But he wasn’t alone.

  3. The Generalisssima is handling this as poorly as hubby handled MonicaGate.

    She is responsible for her own 1 million Iraqi deaths in the bogus war — just as hubby was by keeping intact the “economic sanctions” initiated by patriarch of creeps, Pappy Bush.

    Is there any doubt her presidency would be any less a disaster, for the regular citizen as was hubby’s?

    To wit: The WJ Clinton “Legacy”

    1) Defense of Marriage Act – later found unconstitutional
    2) DADT – dumped as “major achievement” of the next “progressive” president
    3) Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 1993 (aka The Theocracy Enabling Act)
    4) Telecom Deregulation Act, 1996 ( aka Hate Media Enabling Act)
    5) “end of welfare as we know it”
    6) NAFTA
    7) GATT-WTO
    8) repeal of Glass-Steagall Act?
    9) Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000:
    (OTC derivatives, with #8 (and 6 & 7 ?) the impetus for Great American Depression 2.0)
    10) Continually kissing the collective ass of, and thereby “emboldening,” the, then, only incipient domestic
    terrorist wing of the GOP.
    11) Presiding over and extending Pappy Bush’s war crime of Desert Storm “economic sanctions,” as above
    12) destruction of Yugoslavia for having the nerve NOT to chirp “how wide, massa” when ordered by the
    global predatory capitalists to spread its national economic ass cheeks.

    Eleven and twelve were Clinton’s actual impeachable offenses. But the “afternoon delights” fiasco lead to his actual impeachment that was the impetus needed to mobilize the American Taliban in numbers sufficient to allow GW Bush to even get close enough to have the opportunity to steal the 2000 election.

    (Yes, this is a repeat, with some alterations.)

  4. I find it … I have to hunt for the right word — telling? inevitable? satisfying? — anyway I find it some combination of a bunch of things that Hillary Clinton has spent so much of her career jumping around from here (1) to there (1) to here (2) to there (2) via here (1) with a momentary layover at (there 1) that no one can untangle the mess anymore. And, even more remarkable, she now desperately needs something that differentiates her from four-years-ago-Hillary-who-lost but there’s nothing left to tap.

    Go on. Seriously. What central core does she have left to assert? She can’t play her gay rights card. The Bill and Monica thing kinda sprained any attempt to use the whole “I’m a strong, confident woman who knows her worth and all that.” Her warmonger record? Nafta? The nearly complete void that is her record of legislative accomplishments?

    She’s like a book of scratch tickets, and they’re all losers.

    • “She’s like a book of scratch tickets, and they’re all losers”

      Ooooh, I like that one. Maybe I’ll take credit for it, sometime.