There’s a legendary exchange between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway that didn’t exactly happen the way it is often quoted.
“The rich are different from you and me,” Fitzgerald is supposed to have said, prompting Hemingway to reply, “Yes, they have more money.”
Well, the Clintons are different from you and me. They have more rights — to privacy, to shade the truth, to bend the rules.
“No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy,” Hillary said in a bizarre spectacle of a press conference at the United Nations Tuesday. So 31,380 of the former secretary of state’s emails were deemed personal and deleted.
More than 90 percent of the 30,490 emails Clinton turned over to the State Department involved correspondence that was already in the government’s system.
Lois Lerner would be proud.
Nobody wants to see Clinton’s yoga correspondence. But the convoluted email system the Clintons employed appears to be motivated by more than convenience. The emails shielded from public exposure likely discussed more than downward facing dog.
At a time when the federal government’s email surveillance practices are facing increased scrutiny, this is not a good look. And with mounting pay to play speculation about the Clintons’ foundation, it may be more than the optics that are poor. (The Clintons are certainly no longer poor.)
“I wonder what a young Hillary Clinton would think of a private charity run by a former U.S. president and a potential future president that collected hundreds of millions of dollars from countries and companies hoping to influence the pair,” wrote National Journal’s Ron Fournier. “Actually, I don’t wonder: She would think it smells.”
How much of this stench was washed away when Hillary cleaned out her trash folder? We’ll never know.
The Clintons can survive scandals that would have cost mere mortals their jobs. They lack a general sense of shame. It’s inconceivable that any of Bill’s predecessors would have clung to the White House during the Monica Lewinsky scandal rather than resign to protect their family from embarrassment.
The Clintons seem almost immune to embarrassment. The episodes of the 1990s probably helped Hillary win her Senate seat from New York.
Barring substantially worse revelations, does anyone really think this email matter will be the end of Hillary? The 2008 Democratic primaries are proof she isn’t invincible. The fact that she is still the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic presidential nomination seven years later is evidence it’s hard to keep a good email user down.
This time around, Clinton’s main opponents are a retired one-term senator who won’t criticize her, a septuagenarian socialist and a former Maryland governor whose tenure as Baltimore mayor was parodied in “The Wire.”
In the short story that actually inspired his exchange with Hemingway, Fitzgerald wrote that the rich are “soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful.”
“They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves,” Fitzgerald continued. “Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.”
I don’t know if all that’s true of the rich. But it does kind of remind me of the Clintons.
W. James Antle III is managing editor of The Daily Caller and author of the book Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? Follow him on Twitter.