THUMBS DOWN to the weak apology offered by Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private email account during her time as secretary of state in the Obama administration.

Clinton cited “convenience” — an unwillingness to carry a separate phone for her government email — as the reason she established her own account, which was run out of a private server kept at her house.

That’s a ridiculous argument for someone trailed constantly by her own entourage, one made more ridiculous by the fact it apparently took Clinton, slow to respond to the criticism, a week to come up with it.

The truth is, there is no good reason for any public official to conduct business on a private email account, though it is not rare. Just among presidential hopefuls such as Clinton, Republicans Jeb Bush and Rick Perry both made use of private email accounts when governor of Florida and Texas, respectively, as have Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker, both Republicans, and Martin O’Malley, the former Democratic governor of Maryland.

In most cases, the politicians were following at least the letter of the applicable public records laws. That’s as good a case as any that those laws have to be updated and strengthened to allow for the right level of public scrutiny.

And speaking of poor apologies …

THUMBS DOWN to Sen. Michael Willette, R-Presque Isle, for failing to address the root problem with the racist and xenophobic posts found on his Facebook page while speaking about the matter Wednesday on the Senate floor.

Willette did call the posts “completely inappropriate” in his three-minute floor speech, and the senator said to reporters after the speech that he does not prescribe to the ridiculous beliefs contained in the posts, namely that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, that he sympathizes with terrorists, and that Muslim immigrants should leave the country. He said he made the posts out of “frustration” with the president’s policies.

That would be a better defense if Willette hadn’t made a series of posts over the course of a year, at least, and if he hadn’t hinted in his latest post that he had been holding back his malignment of the president in recent months.

But social media posts are shared easily, and they give the person who posts them a sense of remove, so they often are disseminated with too little thought.

However, Willette’s posts are far from harmless jokes, and they have an impact beyond providing an opening for Willette’s opponents.

An unfortunate number of people do share these damaging, hateful and ludicrous beliefs, and it is harmful, and a little scary, for an elected official to legitimize them in any way.

Willette can apologize, but the people who hold tight to the delusional thinking rampant on social media will see it just as a case of “political correctness” run amok, and will be further emboldened that someone in power sees the same “truths” they do.

THUMBS UP to Monmouth police for backing away from a standoff on Wednesday morning, leading to a peaceful resolution with a man suffering from a mental health crisis.

After a stun gun failed to stop the man, who had barricaded himself inside and was trying to set the house on fire, the police rightfully decided to de-escalate the confrontation. Officer Michael Parshall returned to the home later and convinced the man to seek treatment.

A Department of Public Safety spokesman said this technique can be used when a law has not been violated.

The Monmouth police took appropriate action, and the result was successful for all involved. And in the case of the mentally ill, it’s hard to see why it could not be done more often. Often, the person is seeking a confrontation, and often, the confrontation ends violently. Police in such situations should ask whether their presence is making matters better, or worse.


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