For the first time since preparing her presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton finds herself under siege. In the last week, she's been taking heat for concealing personal correspondence by using a private e-mail when serving as secretary of State, and over foreign donations that the Clinton Foundation received at the same time she was the nation's top diplomat.
The twin controversies are prompting certain Clinton allies to lament that if she had only announced her presidential campaign earlier, her operation would be able to do a better job at damage control. "We've had our head up our ass," one anonymous Clinton adviser told Politico.
But in reality, her decision to wait until April to launch a campaign has been an overall boon to her prospects—allowing her to avoid weighing in on numerous controversial issues that are dividing her party. Indeed, Clinton's stalling tactics are a sign that she understands the political environment better than the critics realize.
If anything, the latest revelation that Clinton hid many of her official emails as secretary of State underscores how important avoiding scrutiny is to her emerging campaign. Far from being unable to respond to the criticism, as a noncandidate she boasts an entire organization—Correct the Record, an arm of the Democratic opposition research firm American Bridge—that's devoted to pushing back against her unfavorable coverage. This week, she's participating in carefully staged events, delivering the keynote address at EMILY's List on Tuesday and attending the Clinton Foundation gala on Wednesday. If she was a candidate, she'd be constantly grilled on the campaign trail over her conduct. She's hoping that, when she announces in the spring, the furor over these controversies will have died down.