Once regarded as a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination who would expand President Barack Obama’s winning coalition and make history as America’s first female president, Hillary Clinton now finds herself in serious trouble. This is not some trivial scandal, either. The controversy over her use of a private server and email address to carry out State Department business as Secretary of State has been plaguing her for months. But the issue resurfaced again after the server was transferred to the FBI, and it became clear it had been wiped clean. While the evidence looks bad, Clinton’s attempts at damage control have only exacerbated the problem. She has attempted to employ several techniques that worked during her husband’s presidency to move past the scandal, but all have fallen flat. She tried making light of it. “You may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account,” she joked. “I love it. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.” Nobody thought it was funny. She tried being cute. Asked if she had her server wiped clean, she replied: “What, like with a cloth or something?” She tried to play dumb. When asked about the emails, her communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, told Bloomberg Politics Mrs Clinton just “didn’t really think it through”. Unfortunately, someone who scrubs their server to ensure emails are irretrievable has clearly thought it through. Clinton has pulled out the “vast Right-wing conspiracy” defence. “I won’t get down in the mud with them,” she averred. “I won’t pretend that this is anything other than what it is — the same old partisan games we’ve seen so many times before.” Sadly, there’s no Ken Starr or Newt Gingrich to demonise here. It is the Obama administration’s Justice Department and FBI that are looking into this matter. I can’t help thinking Clinton’s a victim of having watched her husband get away with this sort of thing for years. But Hillary lacks Bill’s charm and charisma. Her maudlin attempts to spin her way out of this make her look simultaneously fake and like a screeching grandmother. And her body language, visage and voice all betray a sort of phoniness that is viscerally repellent and utterly unlikeable. It’s also incredibly out of touch in a 21st-century America that fetishises authenticity. This perhaps explains the rise of “straight talkers” like Donald Trumpon the Right and Bernie Sanders on the Left. It’s clear her image has taken a hit. It’s still early, but for Democrats, this looks like a huge missed opportunity — just when it seemed all the demographic and cultural trends were going their way. — The Telegraph Group Limited, London 2015This article first appeared on Gulf News