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Rick Wilson in Politico: Let Hillary do the talking

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Rick Wilson‘s reputation is that of somebody who minces few words. The Clintons, on the other hand, inhabit an elite echelon of world-historical prevaricators. In that spirit, Wilson served up a stiff dose of what he really thinks about the Hillary Clinton email “scandal,” such as it is, in Sunday’s POLITICO –– along with some pointed thoughts on how Republicans can best make hay out of it.

After eagerly cheerleading Barack Obama for eight years, [the press] stood ready to help break the ultimate glass ceiling and play their role as part of the uncritical chorus of Hillary Clinton’s coronation, first as the Democratic nominee, then as President. It’s why they hate this story. It brings alive the memories of 30 years of the slimy, predatory Clinton enterprise and how its venal, sleazy, one-step-ahead-of-the-law hillbilly hustle stains everything it touches.

Cursed with both arrogance and inertia, the Bill and Hillary machine is stumbling toward political peril as the story of her possibly illegal (and certainly dodgy and ill-advised) use of private email servers consumes a Washington and New York press corps that for once can’t easily look away. The Clintons know we’re only at the end of the beginning of this story and the national security, legal and political implications for Hillary will get worse. The Clintons are depending on their old skills at manipulating the press and hoping the GOP and conservatives will save her by mishandling their response as badly as she’s mishandling hers.

Oof; that’s pretty harsh. But his tactical plan for a united anti-Hillary front implies a criticism just as brutal. Essentially it’s — lay low and give the Clintons enough rope to hang themselves. They’ll oblige.

You can sense the Clintons are on the back foot; her now-infamous tweet and promises of transparency last week were nothing more than rehashed Clinton stalling tactics from the 1990s, when there were only a handful of media outlets and a relatively hermetic press culture. It was as stale as a faxed statement, three days late in the era of always-on social media. That won’t work today, if we’re smart. She’s blowing this; let’s help.

Of course, Republicans should welcome the chance for Mrs. Clinton to give her side of the story in press conferences and hearings (oh, so many delicious, lovely, slow hearings) and we’re certain that Mrs. Clinton and her staff want to be completely forthcoming. I mean, no one wants to subpoena Hillary and every staffer from top to bottom and force so many people to lawyer up. On that note, purely in the interests of good government, it’s time to roll in the rest of the Clinton clown show: the execrable Sid Blumenthal, Anger Management Disorder poster-boy and email-incontinent Philippe Reines, the Machiavellian enforcer Cheryl Mills, fixer and last-one-in-the-room Mrs. Anthony Weiner. Push them. Get them under the spotlight. The Clinton claque would love to have this be solely about Hillary’s email traffic, but as an intelligence official once told me, “You learn a lot from generals, but everything from their colonels.” None of them are as insulated as HDR22.

There’s an entire cottage industry — practically a subgenre — of Clinton-bashing books and media going back to the late ’80s. But if Republicans make it about her rather than flawed messengers like House Speaker Newt Gingrich of the Whitewater era or out-on-a-limb Tea Partiers this time around, the message might finally get through, concludes Wilson:

It’s said scandals never bring down the Clintons, but this story speaks to the entire pathology of the Arkansas Underwoods—and the stakes have never been higher. The press may want to look away, and the Clintons may want to make this go away, but this case is unspinnably bad. As even the Clinton-friendly Acela Media are being forced to peer into the ugly, seething mass of Bill and Hillary’s behavior, history and contempt for the law, Republicans shouldn’t give them a reason to look away.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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