#EmailGate, #Hillary, #Comey

Skip the bother of writing a headline compelling enough to read; go right to a headline compelling enough to find: #EmailGate, #Hillary, #Comey. That should do it.

Now sit back and watch the clicks roll in.

But what do you do when the clickers arrive?

Give them a question they won’t find elsewhere.

Was Hillary Clinton’s decision to use her own email server a good business decision?

Might be useful to decide what a good business decision is.

It should probably be a hard one if it is to be noticed. There should be pros and cons to either course of action.

Here’s an example that misses the mark. A decision to dress up like a flying squirrel, leap off a cliff and fly off into the sunset (or a tree) can’t be a good business decision because there is no consequence to standing at the top of the cliff not dressed up like a flying squirrel and shaking your head at the stupidity of those who did it.

For a really good business decision, the problem must have both risks and rewards no matter which choice is made.

When she signed on as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton had to decide to use the State Department email system or not.

If she used it, she risked having profoundly embarrassing political emails turn up in places they could be discovered and made public. On the other hand she would be complying with the law with respect to classified information.

If she used her own server, the profoundly embarrassing political emails could be safely deleted, but there remained the risk – a near certainty actually – that confidential information would be mishandled subjecting her to criminal penalties.

That is the kind of decision that really has to be made well. It does not matter if you fall to your left off the high wire or if you fall to your right. Either way you die.

Only Hillary Clinton and her advisors can calculate the damage that would have been caused by tens of thousands of emails exposing the smarmy underside of politics. It must have been considerable because they chose the other course. The risk of mishandling confidential information was less even though it subjected her to a criminal investigation.

The calculus was simple: will I, Hillary Clinton, get away with it.

Thanks to the assistance of Williams & Connolly, the absolute single best law firm in Washington to hire if you are in real trouble and a lifetime of political IOUs, Hillary Clinton has gotten away with it.

Tens of thousands of potentially career ending political emails have been protected from public view at a cost of a public rebuke by the FBI.

That was not a good business decision, that was a superb business decision.

Hillary Clinton’s decision might have been disgraceful in other ways but those did not matter. To her.

34 Responses to “#EmailGate, #Hillary, #Comey”

Ron Bogdasarian, July 06, 2016 at 10:54 am said:

This seems to be an astute, insightful insiders view, though I sometimes have difficulty separating sarcasm from reality


Haven Pell, July 06, 2016 at 11:08 am said:

I often like to look at a question from the perspective of someone who might never consider it.

Would a business school professor have considered the decision a good one? My conclusion was yes, so that is what I wrote.

No divinity school professors were harmed in the writing of this post. (That might have been a little sarcastic.)


Ashley Higgins, July 06, 2016 at 9:57 pm said:

I wonder if the republic of which you occasionally write was harmed? I the FBI has made it official: The United States of America is a kakistocracy.


Haven Pell, July 06, 2016 at 10:51 pm said:

If you believe that being President of the US is something that only 1 in 100,000 people could do, that leaves 3250 people who are qualified. In that group of 3250, where do these candidates rank?


Ashley Higgins, July 07, 2016 at 3:16 pm said:

I don’t believe those numbers. I would lump everyone into an undifferentiated mass in the fifth quintile, leaving the top four quintiles completely uninhabited. As for ranking the current candidates, I am tempted to manufacture a sixth quintile just for Hillary and Slick Willie. But then I’d have to put Irons in it (see infra), and he’s probably want it called a sextile.

Jim Lusby, July 06, 2016 at 11:48 am said:

Would those who laud Trump’s business acumen as a significant qualifier for the office be drawn by her astute business sense in this instance?


Haven Pell, July 06, 2016 at 4:40 pm said:

They should be but that would require consistency, which is the well-known enemy of partisanship.


GARRARD GLENN, July 06, 2016 at 11:56 am said:

Note to Ron: sarcasm is attached to reality like feet are to ankles. Best left intact.

Hillary’s decision was indeed the correct one. It allowed her to remain in business. However, she risked
being thrown out of business on a permanent basis. She put her entire career in the hands of Mr. Comey,
who conceivably could have recommended prosecution. She did not, and could not have anticipated the
de facto recusal of Mrs. Lynch, who Hillary knew would protect her from prosecution. Things got a tad dangerous for Hillary for a moment, when the A team retired from the field, and the B team came off the bench, but she lucked out.

Could there have been a better business decision? Such as, use two phones. One for official State Department business, and one for personal use. The personal phone could have been triple-encrypted by
world-class encryption artists, to whom Hillary could have had access, if she had wanted it.

Maybe she’s just too arrogant to imagine that anyone would challenge her decision to use her own server.
But, if that is the case, it could be said she’s more dumb than arrogant. People with very sharp machetes have been after the Clintons for decades. Hillary knows this.

Bill took big, career-threatening risks as well with his inelegant, reckless, serial indiscretions. Both Clintons are canny, cunning, machiavellian political survivors. But their pathological sense of entitlement
creates within them from time to time a blinding hubris. They’re not deaf. They’re not dumb. But they’re occasionally blind.


Haven Pell, July 06, 2016 at 4:35 pm said:

I think another aspect of the problem is the idiots at the other end of the emails. They would then have two addresses for her and could easily screw up and send something dreadful to her State Department address. Problem very much unsolved.


GARRARD GLENN, July 06, 2016 at 5:10 pm said:

Most people simply reply to the email that was just sent them. Of course, there are exceptions, especially when one is initiating an email oneself. Your point is taken.


Haven Pell, July 06, 2016 at 5:22 pm said:

what about a state dept political appointee who has both her email addresses? He is eager to be the first to tell her that one of her rivals has been caught in a compromising position and is dropping out of the race. He is gleeful and tosses in every detail to curry favor. It goes to HRC@state.gov.



GARRARD GLENN, July 06, 2016 at 5:57 pm said:

But in a sense, it’s not just Hillary. Surely she is not the only pol who emails vicious, morally repugnant if not outright illegal emails to other pols, slush-funders, etc.

They may all be taking a page from the Mailgate book now being written.

Unusual interest in carrier pigeon breeders in the D.C. area bears watching.

Haven Pell, July 06, 2016 at 6:13 pm said:

any person expecting to run for President would receive and send smarmy emails

bill gordon, July 06, 2016 at 1:30 pm said:

I suspect Comey justified his decision not to prosecute as ” in the best interest of the country.” To prosecute would have thrown the election to Trump, a prospect abhorrent to insiders like himself. His career may forever be tainted by publicly throwing the little guy under the bus and confirming what has always been suspected… there are two sets of rules in America.

Comey’s action may ironically provide the catalyst for a Trump victory in November.


Haven Pell, July 06, 2016 at 4:32 pm said:

I doubt there will be a Trump victory because our insiders fight dirtier than British insiders do. Not expecting a “holy shit, how did that happen” moment like the morning after Brexit vote.


GARRARD GLENN, July 06, 2016 at 5:05 pm said:

Putin might contribute to Comey’s inadvertent boost to Trump by leaking to the press some of Hillary’s top secret State Department emails, if he has any. It is rumored that he may well have some.


Haven Pell, July 06, 2016 at 5:09 pm said:

forget that. Leak the political ones


GARRARD GLENN, July 06, 2016 at 5:32 pm said:

Yes, whatever hurts her the most. He could leak some nasty political stuff, assuming there is any (hard to imagine otherwise) and then say he’s holding back the State Department stuff, given his dictates of gentlemanly discretion re State to State relations. Just have some nameless hacker leak the political stuff to Wikileaks.

What are the odds this will happen?


Haven Pell, July 06, 2016 at 6:11 pm said:

and in ways we might not even imagine

David Irons, July 06, 2016 at 1:42 pm said:

Funny thing is: None of this dents my enthusiastic intention to vote for her. Not even a little bit.


Haven Pell, July 06, 2016 at 4:28 pm said:

That seems to be the prevailing view. I watched Doug Schoen (pollster close to Clintons) the other night. The other two panelists, John LeBoutillier (Harvard Hates America) and Pat Caddell (Carter pollster) kept saying one or another iteration of “but isn’t it wrong?” and he always replied “but she is ahead in the polls.”It appears nothing matters unless done by the other side and i am not sure that is a good thing.


Sellers McKee, July 06, 2016 at 5:10 pm said:

I give up. Haven, you know very well that no Republican would have escaped jail time for what Hillary did.
The press and the “I don’t care Democrats” (shame on you Irons) think their “agenda” trumps all. What their endgame is when no authority is respected, nobody is held accountable for anything and we run out of “other people’s money” is anybody’s guess. I sure can’t figure it out.


Haven Pell, July 06, 2016 at 5:15 pm said:

It is the height of self-referential to quote yourself but here we go:

“The calculus was simple: will I, Hillary Clinton, get away with it.”

A Republican would have had to ask a different question with his own name in it. You are suggesting a different answer would have been forthcoming.

Look up a little higher at my reply to David Irons and read the bit about Doug Schoen.


Ashley Higgins, July 06, 2016 at 9:04 pm said:

Actually, whether you cast it as a business decision or a political decision, it was an easy one for Hillary because she knows the system is rigged for Democrats by that party’s ownership of the executive branch of government and the media. So, sure, a Republican would have had to consider the same system rigging and should, therefore, have decided to use the lawful system. By the way, I think Putin has all the mail. I don’t think he will use it before the election because he does not want to hurt Hillary’s chances. If she wins, he will use it most effectively in a quiet manner, like a stiletto in the kidney.


Haven Pell, July 06, 2016 at 10:01 pm said:

I went to a lunch at which the speaker was Marvin Kalb. In addition to his news career he is a Russia expert and has just written a book about Putin. Based on his comments about Ukraine, I doubt he will have a problem finding either a stiletto or a kidney.


Stan Hatch, July 06, 2016 at 6:09 pm said:

Hillary was confident she could get away with it. Others probably would not have been. I think it was an unwinable case. Intent is critical in criminal cases. Without doubt you’d have at least one juror holdout. Her argument would be that important people knew it and approved it by not making her stop. Further, that she relied on an it technician she believed was competent.

A big question tomorrow will be whether the investigation on the foundation and Bill’s speaking fees is concluded. I think in that case the intent, at least, is very clear if it can be proven. Did she sacrifice the interests of the american people for her own personal gain. I think she did, but that’s only an opinion.

It is interesting the the evidence uncovered in these investigations will have absolutely no effect on how many vote. And I do not think that is because of Trump. Many will vote republican and many will vote democratic no matter what. It is always the swing vote that determines the election.


Haven Pell, July 06, 2016 at 6:12 pm said:

True Stan, thanks for the comment


John Austin Murphy, July 08, 2016 at 11:09 am said:

Excellent analysis.


Haven Pell, July 08, 2016 at 11:52 am said:

Thanks John, much appreciated.


GARRARD GLENN, July 13, 2016 at 12:59 pm said:

Another grand theory about Hillary has started to bounce around inside my head.

1. She voted for the Iraq war. So did a lot of others. Still….

2. She did nothing to fortify our embassy in Libya, which was clearly under siege.

3. She supported the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt, which led to the election of a very dangerous
Islamic dictatorial regime, which could have substantially compromised the security of Israel, not to speak of the region.

4. She supported the overthrow of Qaddafi in Libya, which has led to a failed state dominated by radical Islamic militias, including ISIS and Al Qaeda.

5. She has supported the U.S. half-measure, ineffective resistance to Assad in Syria, which has led to a hardening of the rump Assad regime, successfully supported by Russia and Iran.

6. She promoted the U.S. “pivot to Asia,” which has led so far to a grossly ineffective U.S. counter to
Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. She flip-flopped on her early endorsement of the TTP agreement, when she ascertained it did not enjoy much popularity with U.S. voters.

7. Her decision to use a private, easily-hacked email server is frankly baffling. To think this was a clever decision is to think that a man who murders his wife and then escapes from prison made a cunning, clever decision. He did not. The potential consequences of his decision exponentially outweigh the wildly improbable benefits. So it was with Hillary.

8. She has no clue as to how to reduce the hard costs of globalization to certain sectors of the American public. She offers no policies to improve the U.S. economy. She offers no policies to reduce the U.S. debt.
She does offer hollow bromides such as “strengthening Medicare,” and delivering “equal pay for women.”

Grand conclusion: Hillary is oft considered to be a smart, canny, cunning political operator, and a hard-working policy wonk. Many on both sides of the aisle agree on this assessment.

But, is she? I hereby put forward the notion that she does not live up to her reputation, because she isn’t
all that smart, suffers from regular bouts of bad judgement, and her supposed cunning political instincts are more a function of the tendency of the American people to incorrectly analyze presidential candidates, and to vote for the wrong one with alarming regularity.


Haven Pell, July 15, 2016 at 9:36 am said:

Do you think she tries to compensate for her lack of political touch by over thinking the appearance of each of her decisions.

We have all watched “naturals” who instinctively make everything look easy. We have also watched the less skilled whose every move is taught and then practiced. That does not look easy.

Could she be making up for not being a natural by tilting toward decisions that look popular over decisions that are good?


GARRARD GLENN, July 15, 2016 at 11:33 am said:

I wonder. In addition, I have always wondered how much her husband coaches her, and advises her.
He is thought to be a natural. Yes, a charmer, to be sure. But not a good president, in my view, despite his
popularity with certain sectors of the population.

So, how does all this parse out? Clinton was likable, and a clever pol, but not a good president. Hillary is not likeable, not that clever a pol, but….despite her inferiority to her husband as above, might she surprise us all, and be a better president than her husband? She will have to exercise better judgement to pull that off.

Bush 2 tried to be a better president than Bush 1, by trying to better Bush 1s record in Iraq.

There are dangers in competing with former president family members while president.


Charles Atkinson, August 08, 2016 at 9:21 pm said:

Hillary Clinton is a Competent, Careful, Non Treasonous person who was not Extremely Careless in using a private server. It was not possibly a mistake to use it or to delete 30,000 emails.
Rather she was deliberately seeking to keep her and Bill’s political, commercial, foundational and personal Brilliant Business Model and Metastasizing Moral Compass hidden not from our enemies but from America!


Haven Pell, August 09, 2016 at 9:53 am said:

great system that serves up such wretched candidates… except Johnson Weld who circumvented the system


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