So Greg Sargent boils down the actual–as opposed to the contrived or imagined–worry of Democrats about the email “scandal” and other possible revelations about Hillary Clinton: “There’s no Plan B.” Over at the Prospect, Greg’s Plum Line colleague Paul Waldman pretty much expressed the same fear in a long, agonized Open Letter to Clinton that implicitly begged her to play some error-free baseball from here on out or call for the bullpen.
This is, of course, an entirely natural fear, born of experience. We’ve all seen downballot races where a candidate simply exploded when it was too late to do anything about it (it happened to Democrats in Ohio in 2014, and to Republicans in Missouri in 2012). And there have been close brushes with this kind of catastrophe at the presidential level. What if an 1973 investigation of corruption in Annapolis hadn’t accidentally turned up someone willing to testify that the Vice President of the United States was still getting payola from road contractors? Spiro Agnew could have become president when Nixon went down–we tend to forget Agnew was wildly popular with the GOP “base”–and then the scandal could have come out in the middle of the next presidential campaign. And much more recently, a lot of Democrats get the shakes when they think about the possibility John Edwards could have won in Iowa in 2008–he did finish second, you might recall–and gone on to win the nomination even as his aide Andrew Young was hiding Rielle Hunter and her daughter in various spots around the country.
But these scenarios involve really bad timing. Yes, presidential campaigns tend to start very early, and this one’s already underway. But let’s remember no delegates are selected until next January. If the email “scandal” or any other development blows up the Clinton campaign in the next six or seven months, there is actually plenty of time for Democrats to come up with a Plan B, and about 200 qualified candidates who would come out of the woodwork, believe me. Once you realize that, and then recall that for all the possibility of a comet out of nowhere, HRC remains one of the most thoroughly vetted politicians in the history of the country, then it becomes easier to chill.
Let Clinton have her press conference and explain the emails, and then see if the whole thing looks a bit less worrisome.