What Hillary Clinton’s New Batch of Emails Actually Reveals

This Clinton controversy—like all Clinton controversies—will never be resolved.

Hillary Clinton
“Pls advise. [Redacted]. Thx,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in a 2010 email, part of the latest release.

Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

It’s fun to read other people’s email. It’s especially fun to rummage through the email of Hillary Clinton, our most famous person. But “fun” is about where this road ends, assuming it ever does.

The State Department released its latest tranche of Clinton’s emails Monday night, some 7,000 pages from the secretary’s first two years at Foggy Bottom. Twitter wasted no time unearthing some of the treasures from the batch.

There’s the gefilte fish one. “Where are we on this?” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asks two subordinates at 9:56 in the morning on March 5, 2010. (Yes, this was a thing.)

We have D.C. lawyer/lobbyist/PR fixer Lanny Davis humiliating himself at length, groveling at the feet of his “dear friend Hillary” in search of a “personal favor.” After a several-hundred-word windup, in which the Clinton confidante complains about the right, the left, the media, and other people who simply don’t understand Lanny Davis, comes the ask: Can she say nice things about him to a reporter who’s profiling him and his “unique multi-disciplinary” practice?

“Pls advise. [Redacted]. Thx,” our nation’s top diplomat instructs her handlers at 10:53 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 17, 2010. “I would advise [redacted],” Cheryl Mills responds around sunrise the following morning. “[Redacted],” Philippe Reines chimes in several hours later.

Sidney Blumenthal, the “Clinton whisperer,” is constantly bombarding her with articles that his son Max has written. And here Blumenthal tells her that he talked to the journalist Steve Clemons, who talked to Gen. David Petraeus, who spoke “freely” about running for president. Such gossips!

On Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010, at 6:20 in the evening, Clinton reminds an aide to purchase skim milk for her tea and asks when the television programs Parks and Recreations and The Good Wife air.

Et cetera.

This is fun stuff, both for the nuggets of recent historical trivia and the This Town–esque look at the comical way that powerful, famous people suck up to the even more powerful, famous people. And yes, there are also some serious emails, too, about fixing Haiti and this country and that country. But the effect of this release is more anthropological, given the lack of a hard-news smoking gun relevant to the current controversy over what exactly was on Clinton’s private email server. The best headline that our newspaper of record can come up with, after browsing through this collection, is: “Insights, and Redactions, in Latest Release of Hillary Clinton’s Emails.” Insights! This changes everything, if there are insights.

This release, much like the previous releases and future releases, and basically all news about Hilary Clinton over the last 20 years, will only confirm one’s prior beliefs about Hillary Clinton.

Those who support Hillary Clinton will focus on the number of emails where she shows her “normal side.” (And what normal person doesn’t have a personal assistant to tell her what time popular TV shows air?) They will also point out the emails where Clinton demands someone be held accountable for some error, or where she writes a friendly note to a co-worker, or where she discusses saving children in third-world countries.

Those who do not support Clinton will see something else: redactions. To those elements that bank on conspiracy, each redaction is the cover-up of some truly devious crime. What does Clinton write in that redacted response to Davis’ whiny email? Perhaps that is where she orders the murder of the American ambassador in Benghazi, two years in advance. (These Clintons, they plan their worst deeds well in advance.) There are those who will see any whited-out strip of text and presume that here Clinton gives Huma Abedin the precise description of how she “took out” Vince Foster.

The main effect of these email releases is to keep afloat in the public mind the very fact that Clinton is suffering from a controversy over her private email server. That’s no small thing. Thousands of pages of emails will be released periodically over the coming months, and each time a new collection drops, it will make news. (It would be beneficial for the Clinton campaign to have all of the emails released at once, but it didn’t help those efforts by hand-delivering 55,000 pages of paper for the State Department to scan.) Instead, the simple mechanics of manual labor will ensure that, regardless of content, the story will resurface every few months. And once this tedious process is finished, it will be resolved the same way all other Clinton controversies are resolved: It will never be resolved.

In the meantime, enjoy the gefilte fish.