The response of media, the GOP, and partisan Democrats to Hillary Clinton's email mess is largely bound up in the technical question of potential legal culpability, and whether the destruction of these emails amount to some sort of cover-up. Is Hillary vulnerable to prosecution, or would she be if the Obama Justice Department were not seemingly in the tank? Or was she merely following Colin Powell's precedent?
Sadly, these questions are not very relevant to Clinton's fitness for the presidency, however much they interest people who are following the horse race. Yeah, yeah, crimes, blah blah, but anybody who makes a decision or has a job that entails executive function commits some sort of crime every day. No, really, crimes per se cannot be disqualifying, because then the presidency would be purely a function of prosecutorial discretion, and that would be bad. We need to stop caring nearly so much about crimes.
However, in the selection of our president we should care about rank stupidity and bad leadership. Hillary was stupid, because in the last five years or so more or less everybody alive has learned that network security is a big problem for private corporations and government agencies alike. Network security is so important that the federal government, the same one Clinton worked for, actually demands that business corporations, such as the one I work for, disclose the precautions they have implemented to avoid security breaches. Executives and directors of public companies have learned that the reputation or even survival of their organization may depend on good IT security. And, no, the fact that the Chinese seemed to have taken the Obama Administration to the cleaners does not mean that Clinton was being responsible, unless of course she knew about those security breaches in advance, which would raise other questions.
Worse, Clinton demonstrated absolutely abysmal leadership of her own organization, the United States Department of State. Why would the rank and file in the State Department take security seriously if the Secretary not only acts as if it is a joke, but invites others in her agency to correspond with her via a manifestly insecure server? Good leadership involves eating one's own cooking, and good leaders follow the rules that they impose on everybody else.
The importance of "tone at the top" is not only a core principle of effective leadership, it is a critical feature of federal regulation across industries. Sarbanes-Oxley's "internal controls" requires enshrine "tone at the top" as a key indicator that the audited business has a good culture of compliance. The FDA loses its mind if, on an inspection, it learns that a business's senior leadership, which is criminally liable for breaches of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, does not act in accordance with law. Sentencing guidelines for business crimes promulgated by the Justice Department depend, again, on tone at the top.
Is there any question, really any at all, that the email mess reveals that Hillary Clinton's tone from the top undermined respect for security protocols, whether or not she committed a crime? Is this not a huge failure of leadership? And is not that highly relevant to the selection of our next president?
Release the hounds.