I’ve come to realize over the years that in the world of politics, there will always be a steady supply of partisan hacks ready and willing to throw themselves on the proverbial sword for the party and the candidates they support.
I’m not talking about ideologues who are reflexively defensive of their beliefs, or even campaign workers paid to put a positive face on whoever they work for. I’m talking about the “strategists” on cable news, newspaper op-ed writers, and Internet bloggers who shamelessly spin, distract, and outright lie—all at the expense of their personal credibility and character—to run cover for individuals who couldn’t possibly respect them.
People who would trade in their dignity and sell their souls to politicians, whether it be on the right or left, creep me out. And lately, the creepiest of the creepy has been Lanny Davis, former adviser and legal representative to Bill Clinton.
Once a notable political figure himself, Davis has kept himself in the public spotlight in recent years as a television and radio commentator. He’s eloquently offered his opinions on a number of political topics, and has even made some news when occasionally speaking out against other Democrats.
But when it comes to the Clintons, it has become painfully evident that Mr. Davis will, at a moment’s notice, rush into battle to defend not just the indefensible, but also the inconceivable. Furthermore, he doesn’t seem to care how silly it makes him look. The latest examples have come from his recent commentary on the Hillary Clinton email scandal.
Last week on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show, in one of the weirder exchanges I’ve witnessed on cable news, Davis insisted that Clinton has done everything appropriately, and that she couldn’t have concealed any emails that went through her private account and private mail server (located inside her house), because thousands of people were aware that she used a private email address.
In other words: Because Hillary Clinton emailed thousands of people while she served as Secretary of State, and those people could see by looking at her email address that it used a private domain, nothing was concealed.
Confused? Megyn Kelly sure was. She reiterated multiple times that the argument was not about the concealment of the existence of the email address, but rather the concealment of the content that was inside the emails sent and received. Still, Davis wasn’t having any part of it, reiterating his incoherent position and declaring that Clinton had done absolutely nothing wrong.
A few days later, Davis turned up on Fox News Sunday, where Chris Wallace pressed him with more questions on the same topic. Davis ended up turning in one of the most embarrassing defenses ever captured on video. He offered one nonsensical excuse after another, in regard to what Clinton had done. Let me summarize:
“Do you really believe she did nothing wrong?” Wallace asked Davis in puzzlement.
Davis answered yes, and offered excuse #1: Colin Powell had done the same thing while in the Bush administration.
Wallace reminded Davis that the circumstances were quite different, as were the rules and laws regarding email usage at that time.
Thus came excuse #2: Clinton followed the rules because her emails had been “preserved.”
Wallace explained that Clinton had never turned over any emails to the State Department during her tenure there, nor in the first two years after she left the position.
Wallace then asked, “Do you think that’s what the rules meant when President Obama, when the Federal Records Act, when the foreign manual all talked about preserving records?”
“The answer is Yes!” Davis inexplicably replied.
Wallace referenced the memo Hillary Clinton sent out to all State Department employees in 2011, instructing them to “avoid conducting department business from your email accounts.” He then asked why the rules applied to them, but not her.
Excuse #3: Hillary Clinton needed to travel to over 100 countries, and thus it was understandable for her to need “one email system versus people in the department who should use the official system.”
Wallace asked how it could have possibly been a burden to use a “state.gov” email address while traveling abroad.
“I didn’t say it was such a burden,” replied Davis. “You said it was such a burden. I said it was understandable as the secretary.”
“Why?” Wallace pressed.
Davis failed to answer, and offered excuse #4: Jeb Bush did the same thing (Yes, he actually employed the Blame Bush strategy).
Wallace explained that the comparison to Bush was ridiculous and irrelevant, and held Davis to the previous question.
In response, Davis falsely claimed that he had already answered the question. He then offered excuse #5: No really… Jeb Bush did the same thing.
Wallace shot down Davis again.
Frustrated, Davis asked Wallace why he has never asked Jeb Bush about his failure to use a “state.gov” email address. Of course, the question made absolutely no sense at all; Bush has never worked for the State Department.
Wallace played for Davis a Clinton speech from 2007, where Clinton accused the Bush White House of “shredding the U.S. Constitution” by using “secret email accounts.” He then asked Davis why Clinton believed it was okay for her emails to be secret.
Excuse #6: Since Clinton had given additional examples, in that speech, of why she believed the Bush White House was shredding the constitution, what she said about the private emails didn’t really need addressing.
Excuse #7 was quick to follow: Hillary is the only Secretary of State to have ever volunteered to turn over all of her emails to the State Department.
Wallace explained that she, in fact, didn’t “volunteer” to turn over her emails, and that she negotiated with the State Department for four months (after they asked for her emails), over what she would turn over and what she wouldn’t.
Wallace went back to the previous “constitution” question, and Davis falsely claimed he had already answered it.
“Do you ever get tired of cleaning up after the Clintons?” Wallace finally asked.
Davis answered by saying he was proud of his service to the Clintons, through all of their scandals. He then complained that Wallace himself didn’t sufficiently appreciate them.
The interview was nothing short of breathtaking—a true testament to a man with no identifiable sense of dignity. The full transcript reads like the Michael Scott deposition from a memorable episode of “The Office.”
How one finds one self on such a path, I haven’t a clue. But no amount of money or power is worth being made to look so foolish. That I’m sure of.
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