Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic nominee for the 2016 election, has, based on her interviews this past week with NBC's Andrea Mitchell and ABC's David Muir, "evolved" regarding her answers to questions about her use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.
In her first press conference as a candidate, held at the United Nations (great backdrop for emphasizing National Security credentials) on March 10 of this year, Clinton attempted to brush off the email questions, no doubt hoping, and believing, that it would go away if deprived of oxygen.
"I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two," Clinton told the reporters. "Looking back, it would've been better if I'd simply used a second email account and carried a second phone."
But the questions rained on throughout the summer. On July 7 when talking with CNN's Brianna Keilar, Clinton responded, "everything I did was permitted by law and regulation." She then attempted to lighten the mood, "Now, I think it's kind of fun, people get a real-time, behind-the-scenes look at what I was emailing about, what I was communicating about."
My guess is the fun has run out. Clinton closed off the interview with a prognostication. "Let's set the record straight. . . . People can make their own judgments."
Clinton attempted to inject humor the next month. When asked at a press conference in Las Vegas on Aug. 18 about her server being wiped, Clinton responded, "What, like with a cloth or something?" The humor fell flat.
Known for her persistence, Clinton attempted humor once again in Iowa the following week, on Aug. 18th. "By the way, you may have seen that I have recently launched a Snapchat account. I love it — those messages disappear all by themselves."
Evidently the subsequent falling flat of the attempted humor was recognized by her campaign. This month there is a new strategy. Not humor, but finally an apology — first a partial one, and then a full one.
Clinton went partway there in last Friday's interview with Andrea Mitchell. "I certainly wish that I had made a different choice, and I know why the American people have questions about it. . . . In retrospect it certainly would have been better.
"I take responsibility. I should have had two accounts, one for personal and one for work-related," noting that the decision to use personal email "wasn't the best choice."
But she continued on the defensive. When asked why she used her personal account, the reasoning was selfish and illogical, "You know, I was not thinking a lot when I got in. There was so much work to be done. We had so many problems around the world. I didn't really stop and think what kind of email system will there be."
One would hope the secretary of state would stop and think.
The apology was "I am sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions but there are answers to all these questions."
Many of us recognize this as the non-apology apology. Very similar to the "I'm sorry you're so stupid" apology given when children are asked to apologize for calling someone stupid. Ah, if only she had heeded her own advice earlier in the year, to be careful about what she says.
This week, in an interview with ABC's David Muir, Clinton gave her full apology, but not without first noting that she was originally right.
"What I had done was allowed, it was above board. But in retrospect, certainly, as I look back at it now, even though it was allowed, I should've used two accounts. One for personal, one for work-related emails. That was a mistake. I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility."
Clinton closed out the interview, talking about national security, and referencing the fact that words have consequences. "Well, in fact, if you're running to be president of the United States, you have to know every single day that people all over the world really pay attention to what you say . . . Things happen with real consequences."
Hillary Clinton, in your own words: Pay attention to what you say.
Jackie Gingrich Cushman is the co-author, along with her father, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, of the book "5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours." Read more reports from Jackie Gingrich Cushman — Click Here Now.