Legally, cases refer to older court cases to argue what should be done.

A precedent is just that. It means that cases from now on will refer to it, and similar decisions will be reached.

As far as I understand it at least
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In the context of the whole article it makes sense. She wants people to stop doing what everybody else does (i.e. the "canned remarks," the "stand by your man" attitude of the women) and just be honest and humble with their shortcomings.

It wouldn't make their mistakes better, but rather than having a publicist cover everything up until the last second and come out with a speech that has been pored over with a fine-toothed comb, it would just be better and refreshing to see a politician and their loved ones admit failure and accept their fate without having it be blown into a huge scandal.

At least, that's what I got.