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Dear Politicians: Responding To The Clinton Email Scandal By Proudly Affirming You've Never Used Email Isn't Helping

from the dumb-dumbs dept

Hey, politicians who read Techdirt… look, can we talk for a moment? As someone with a keen interest in DC machinations and politics on a national level, I feel like I know you guys well enough to have a heart to heart with you. And I get how the DC game is played. Some story comes out creating a national outrage with some percentage of the country and the whole thing seems designed to thieve the attention you might otherwise be getting from the press and the constituency. It’s not only tempting, it’s downright irresistible to react to such a story in an insane way, even if only to momentarily draw attention, any kind of attention, back on yourselves. I get it, believe me. When I first saw the trailer for the new Game of Thrones while sitting in my living room with my family, for instance, I immediately stood up, took my pants off, and ran around the block a few times until my wife clotheslined me on the third lap. Because, let’s face it, that’s how we roll, am I right?

But, guys, seriously…there’s enough meat on the bone in the Hillary Clinton super-secret unofficial email fiasco-steak to work with. You really don’t have to lose your minds and draw all the wrong kind of attention to yourselves as a result. For example, don’t be Lindsey Graham.

If you click that link, there’s a video of Senator Lindsey Graham (we’d embed it here, but NBC still hasn’t figured out how to allow HTTPS embeds, because it doesn’t care about your privacy, apparently). Here’s the key part of Graham’s exchange on Meet the Press.

Chuck Todd asked Graham, “Do you have a private e-mail address?”

Graham’s answer: “I don’t email. No, you can have every email I’ve ever sent. I’ve never sent one. I don’t know what that makes me.”

Well, Senator, it quite likely makes you the most unqualified member of the subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law for starters. Because email is ubiquitous enough at this point that I’m not even sure it should be called “technology” without being prefaced by the qualifier “super old and probably due for displacement.” To at once sit on that committee and proudly state that you’ve never sent an email during your time in office sounds like you’re begging to be replaced on that committee.

But my point is a larger one: the Clinton email scandal is one that should not result in any thinking person believing that having never sent an email to anyone ever is a bragging point. Put this kind of reaction into other contexts and see how far it gets you. One wouldn’t, for instance, react to the cluster-bomb that has become Obamacare by proudly stating, “I’ve never even gone to a doctor!” One wouldn’t criticize our foreign policy in the Middle East by proudly shouting, “Dude, I’ve never even been out of our country!” That’s just stupid.

And so is proudly claiming that you’ve never sent an email. You want to have some kind of massive reaction to get attention? Fine, just don’t say stupid things like Lindsey Graham. My suggestion? Take your pants off and go for a jog. You’ll feel better when you do, I promise.

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Comments on “Dear Politicians: Responding To The Clinton Email Scandal By Proudly Affirming You've Never Used Email Isn't Helping”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The actual quote was;

Chuck Todd to Senator Graham: “Do you have a private e-mail address?”

Senator Graham’s reply: “.. -.. — -. .—-. – . — .- .. .-.. .-.-.- -. — –..– -.– — ..- -.-. .- -. …. .- …- . . …- . .-. -.– . — .- .. .-.. .. .—-. …- . . …- . .-. … . -. – .-.-.- .. .—-. …- . -. . …- . .-. … . -. – — -. . .-.-.- .. -.. — -. .—-. – -.- -. — .– .– …. .- – – …. .- – — .- -.- . … — . .-.-.- .-..-.”

JP Jones (profile) says:

Re: Give the complete story

Graham has made it clear that he deliberately and consciously denies himself a communication tool that would enable him to make off-the-cuff statements without thinking them through.

He prefers not to do that.

Huh? We’re talking about email, not text messaging. You have plenty of opportunity to review and think through something via email, and it’s a fantastic organizational tool.

All he’s made clear is that he’s completely ineffective as a leader. The real work is being done without him. Anyone who’s worked in the government (or even a decently sized corporation) knows that a significant percent of your productivity is based on your ability to organize, task, and communicate through email. He’s automatically losing a huge amount of collaboration and situational awareness by choosing not to use it.

And if he were so opposed to making off-the-cuff statements without thinking them through, he would have never gone on the record telling the American public he’s so backwards and incompetent he doesn’t even use basic communication tools to do his job. Embarrassing emails are the least of his problems.

Former Fed says:

Re: Re: Give the complete story

I wasn’t agreeing with, or defending Graham.

I was pointing out to Tim that if he’s going to hold Graham up as an example, at least provide us with Graham’s explanation for why he isn’t using it.

It’s more likely that he doesn’t want to leave a “paper trail”.

JP Jones (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Give the complete story

Graham’s answer: “I don’t email. No, you can have every email I’ve ever sent. I’ve never sent one. I don’t know what that makes me.”

Graham’s explanation is in the original article. If he’s doing it to avoid a paper trail, he’s not admitting to it. Not sure I see what Tim could have expanded on based on the quote already used in the article.

Dave Cortright says:

Why yes, I speak jive politician. Allow me to translate...

I’ve never sent [an email].

Translation: I am completely out of touch with the American people—who I ostensibly represent—and I have no understanding or empathy for the nuances of this issue.

I don’t know what that makes me.

Translation: I am either unable or unwilling to perform basic self-reflection and evaluation. Not only can I not empathize with you, I am not even in touch with my own thoughts and feelings.

Insert any newly mainstreamed technology in that sentence to see just how ridiculous it is:

I’ve never made a phone call.
I’ve never driven a car.
I’ve never written on papyrus with a quill.
I’ve never used spoken language* (obviously communicated via emphatic grunts and gestures)

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Why yes, I speak jive politician. Allow me to translate...

Let’s translate from political-eese:

I’ve never sent an e-mail.
Means: I dictated the message to my staff and they did it.
I’ve never made a phone call.
Means: I told my staff to dial the phone for me.
I’ve never driven a car.
Means: I’ve used a driver my whole life.

Hmm… I don’t think this sounds any better. So is this person a king or what? Why doesn’t he do the same things as everyone else?

Anonymous Coward says:

There was a time when few people had the ability to “dial” a telephone number, and even long after telephones had their own dials attached, continued the age-old practice of having someone else make every call.

I’m sure there have been many senators in the last century who never learned how to use a typewriter, but that doesn’t mean that no type-written letters were ever sent from their office.

So why couldn’t someone dictate an email just like typewritten letters (or phone dialers) in the old days?

Anonymous Coward says:

Benefit of the doubt

Just to be argumentative, could it be that sen. Graham, from his work in a technology subcommittee, know something about email that seemingly all the commentators here don’t?
Groklaw allegedly pulled the plug from a realization that email was insecure: “If you know what I know, you wouldn’t use email either”.
Email is a ridiculously easy medium to gain access to even if you don’t happen to be a rogue government agency outside normal parliamentary control.
The point about his aides’ use of email on his behalf is taken, though.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Benefit of the doubt

“could it be that sen. Graham, from his work in a technology subcommittee, know something about email that seemingly all the commentators here don’t”

Even if that’s true, it also means that he has never even attempted to use email, even when it was a new technology and in wide use before he hit his 40th birthday. No matter what he’s being told now, he’s clearly not naturally curious about the way the things he’s now involved with actually work. When the internet was changing the world as we know it around him, he wasn’t even interested enough to mess around with a Yahoo mail account. Not even to see how it could benefit or otherwise affect the people he represented once it became ubiquitous.

Whatever he’s being told that might put him off using email now, he only knows it because the lobbyists and other biased interests around him are telling him. Then he gets to help control how technology is treated on a legal level… That should be very concerning, even if all he really means is “I prefer other communications media and my staff handle my emails for me”.

Anonymous Coward says:

“I don’t email. No, you can have every email I’ve ever sent. I’ve never sent one. I don’t know what that makes me.”

It’s a typical canned response from a politician.

If there would have been a scandal about cellphone data, he would have said that he never used a cellphone.

I mean, does anyone honestly believe this guy? If he were 70 I’d find it believable but he’s a 59-year old male working under the subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. It’s practically impossible for him to be out-of-touch with technology unless he’s Amish.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The same shitheads that don’t believe in science (or believe it’s godless heathen witchcraft) are the ones regulating (or failing to regulate) emissions and address manmade climate change.

Maybe the fact that they don’t use email is an outgrowth of their distrust of science. Their staffers are monks making manual transcriptions of the Bible, because it would be utter blasphemy to make use of that godforsaken printing press…

Dan G Difino says:

Naked Jogging Emails

I think I saw you on an episode of ‘Cops’ and the funny was these cops didn’t want to touch this guy to contain him or restrain him so he just kept jogging! ..until they tased him in the buttocks that is!

Now if you can jog naked around your neighborhood AND email privately, using the latest encryption, you’ll really have something to write home about!

greywar says:

This is not limited to Graham.

This is widespread and not limited to either party. Tim Geithner said exactly the same thing.

When you refuse to use email, there is nothing to FOIA or subpoena. Senior official routinely refuse to utilize email at all due to this.

Phone calls, in person office visits, and taxpayer funded junkets rule the day and they leave far less of an audit trail that can come back to haunt them.

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