Hillary’s Email Dump: A Blessing in Disguise?

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

America was supposed to meet the New Hillary a few weeks ago. Molly went to see it first hand. But really, it was just the same Hillary that has struggled to evade the robotic, cagey, out of touch (take your pick) characterizations.

Clinton’s relatability is perhaps her campaign’s greatest problem. And many pundits say it’s only been exacerbated by her email scandal, particularly her misstep in waiting so long to adequately apologize for it. But what if the emails are doing the opposite—by, finally, making her more relatable?

Take this one, for example:

Even U.S. Secretary of State and former First Lady Hillary Clinton gets frustrated at the airport. (Though we don’t all have the option to have a team of security personnel with a Plan B.)

Or this email about gay parents:

Come on, Hillary, that’s a bit offensive. But at least I can see what is actually going on in the head of the woman who hopes to lead my country. It’s a human thought—not a polished statement or talking point that perfectly balances a vague policy position and avoiding the alienation of same-sex couples.

This email is my personal favorite:

To be honest, I’ve lost two pairs of sunglasses in the last year. I feel you, Hillary.

Some of these emails—particularly ones to her staff members—make her relatable in a way that is not crafted and manipulated by a team of communications professionals. They’re hastily typed messages that reveal human flaws and real emotions. And they illustrate the reality that we all live in an age where we risk our personal messages appearing on the screens of strangers.