Let’s be clear: All this recent commotion on Capitol Hill over Hillary Clinton’s emails isn’t about upholding some vaunted ideal of transparency in the innermost chambers of the U.S. government.

In a way, it could be taken as a bitterly bipartisan kind of backhanded compliment.

Clinton’s detractors in Washington, of which there are entire battalions, wouldn’t waste a moment scanning those 50,000 pages of emails from her tenure as the Obama administration’s secretary of state were it not for one key factor: Hillary Clinton’s imminent 2016 presidential campaign.

Also read: Hillary Clinton: ‘I Want the Public to See My Email’ (Updated)

According to The Guardian, Clinton and her team are gearing up to make it all official in Iowa in early April — specifically, and perhaps unwisely, on April 1:

With plans to hire as many as 40 staffers in the battleground state around the beginning of April, the sources said, there is essentially no turning back on Clinton campaign expenditures — nor on the starting gun for the 2016 election.

The alignment of Clinton’s Iowa team, all but guaranteeing a declaration of her official campaign before the end of next month, was coming into view amid reports that she was due to address by the end of the week controversy over her use of a private email account as secretary of state.

Clinton had been rumored to be moving up her announcement of a campaign launch after the email scandal broke last week, but sources in Iowa familiar with staffing decisions insisted that the hiring process [for] campaign staffers was well under way.

US federal election rules give a candidate 15 days after either raising or spending at least $5,000 on a national campaign to declare her candidacy. The candidate then has 10 days to register with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

An April Fool’s Day launch would give Clinton the advantage of getting out ahead of the Democratic pack of White House hopefuls, and she already has an edge, as she’s widely considered to be the one to beat at this point in the presidential contest.

As The New York Times reported Tuesday, Clinton was slated to hold a press conference that day to confront the email controversy:

The news conference, which is expected in the early afternoon after she delivers a keynote address on women’s issues at the United Nations, comes during a busy week for Mrs. Clinton. She is participating in back-to-back events in New York that are intended to focus on her activism on women’s issues, which is expected to be a central theme of her 2016 campaign.

Meanwhile, the Times added, one of her possible Republican opponents in the 2016 gambit, former Florida governor and Bush dynasty member Jeb Bush, took the opportunity on Tuesday morning to send an email to reporters helpfully noting his openness with his own online communications.

So, what’s Hillary Clinton to do about all this hubbub? It’s still very early in the campaign cycle, and no doubt this is but the first of many headline-baiting scandals to be dangled before a revved-up media corps and a thoroughly wired voting public. Maybe she can ride this one out and hope that her own opposition research experts can unearth some even bigger zingers to lob at her competitors.

But regardless, given the sheer extent of Clinton’s experience in Washington’s savage scene, it seems implausible that her use of a private email account during her State Department years could have been the result of any deliberate bid to insist on special treatment or to flout the Obama administration’s transparency guidelines. She poured herself into that job, representing the rival who had whisked away her chances at making history of a different sort in the 2008 election, and her work might have even taken a toll on her health.

It’s also highly likely that she’d had her sights set on a 2016 run before and during her time in the State Department, so she’d have some very compelling reasons, if only based on self-interest, to toe the line in every foreseeable way and offer her enemies as little ammunition as possible.

Given this setup, how to make sense of such a significant slip-up?

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank provided some perspective on Monday (via The Chicago Tribune):

So it turns out Hillary Clinton will face a serious challenger in the primaries, after all. Her name is Hillary Clinton.

Last week’s revelation that she used only private email to conduct her public business as secretary of state is not a knockout blow to the likely Democratic presidential nominee; she has weathered worse. But it is a needless, self-inflicted wound, and it stems from the same flaws that have caused Clinton trouble in the past — terminal caution and its cousin, obsessive secrecy.

In trying so hard to avoid mistakes — in this case, trying to make sure an embarrassing email or two didn’t become public — Clinton made a whopper of an error. What’s troubling is that she’s been making a variation of this mistake for nearly a quarter-century.

Could be that, as Milbank put it, Clinton truly is “her own worst enemy,” despite the long line of eager D.C. operatives vying for that title. Whether this is in fact her race to lose remains to be seen, but one part of this shifting picture is certain: The plugged-in members of Clinton’s 2016 camp have their work cut out for them.

Update: Clinton told reporters at Tuesday’s press event that her choice to only use her private email account as secretary of state was based on “convenience.”

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

Your support matters…

Independent journalism is under threat and overshadowed by heavily funded mainstream media.

You can help level the playing field. Become a member.

Your tax-deductible contribution keeps us digging beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that unearths what's really happening- without compromise.

Give today to support our courageous, independent journalists.