Hillary Clinton's candidacy for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination has held an aura of inevitability almost from the counting of the 2012 votes. Clinton admirers loved that trajectory; Clinton haters were beginning to face the inevitability of it all; political junkies hoped for something more lively than a foregone conclusion.
Despite all of the reasoned expectations, the lack of strong opponents and Clinton's own coyness about her candidacy, there has been reason to think that Clinton's anointing might not go as smoothly as scripted. Although she ignites fierce loyalty among her fans, Clinton also sparks ire among political opponents. She has won election to the Senate and served as secretary of state, but her success and effectiveness in both jobs are subject to debate.
She is one of the most polarizing figures in American politics. Many Republicans clearly revile her and would like nothing better than to defeat her at the polls in 2016. Clinton's own missteps provide the openings to stop her. Although her admirers see her as a gifted politician and brilliant policy builder, her instincts have not always served her well.
Early in his first term, Bill Clinton appointed his wife to create a universal health insurance plan. Expectations were high, but the health insurance commission got off to a bad start and never recovered. Hillary Clinton insisted on secrecy and limited public input into the health care proposal. This raised doubts about what was afoot behind closed doors. When the details of the proposal were released, critics quickly shot holes in the gargantuan, Rube Goldberg-like complexity of the plan. Clinton and others had difficulty explaining why the plan had to be so byzantine. The proposal flopped, never even coming to a vote.
Throughout the remainder of Clinton's presidency, the first couple's preference for secrecy was a constant theme, as was their focus on gaining wealth for themselves. A real estate investment scandal, fundraising on federal property and pardons in exchange for political donations dogged the Clintons to the very end.
It is this background of doubt and suspicion that makes the latest Clinton misstep so damaging. Two years after leaving the State Department, it has been revealed that Clinton did not use automatically archived State Department email addresses, only a personal email address for her official correspondence. It gets worse: She set up a private email account on a server owned and operated by herself. Why? The only explanation seems to be that she wanted to control what gets released from her emails and how it is released.
Clinton might survive this minor crisis — no illegality has been proven — but the episode highlights once again the lengths to which Clinton will go to control things and to avoid doing what others do and what the law expects. Add to this her recent missteps ("What difference does it make ..." about the Benghazi diplomats who were murdered and the "We were broke" claims by a couple, each of whom garner six-figure incomes per speech and make millions on their memoirs) and you see a vulnerability in the notion that Hillary Clinton is the inevitable Democratic nominee and 2016 presidential winner.