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Opening Arguments

How to avoid an email scandal

In the aftermath of the Hillary email scandal, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham explains why he does not use email "to a baffled a press corps that walks around with smartphones welded to hands."

"What I do, basically, is that I've got iPads, and I play around," Graham explained. "But I don't e-mail. I've tried not to have a system where I can just say the first dumb thing that comes to my mind. I've always been concerned. I can get texts, and I call you back, if I want. I get a text, and I respond not by sending you a text, but calling you if I think what you asked is worthy enough for me calling you. I'm not being arrogant, but I'm trying to jealously guard myself in terms of being able to think through problems and not engage in chat all day. I've had a chance to kind of carve out some time for myself not responding to every 15-second crisis."

It's tempting to get all worked up over his email Ludditism. Why would someone whose success depends on thorough communication turn his back on the most currently used form of communication? Can we even consider for president someone who's waiting around for a phone call while the emails about the end of the world are flooding everyone else's computers and smartphones?

But I get his point about not engaging in pointless and mindless chatter all day instead of "thinking through problems carefully" and then communicating them.We problably wouldn't be well served by a president reacting to "every 15-second crisis." And those smarphones welded to their hands do no appear to have resulted in members of the press asking more insightful and pertinent questions of the politicians.

Emails and texting have certainly added to the quantity of our communications but not by any means the quality of them. And considering how stupid some people are in the way they use email, Graham's position is more than a little defensible.