Almost exactly a year ago, on 9.17.16, I predicted that if Hillary Clinton loses to Donald Trump “she will NEVER, EVER BE FORGIVEN. Hillary will singlehandedly redefine the definition of pariah if Trump wins. She’ll be like O.J. Simpson — she’ll have to leave the country and live in southern Spain. Or just hide in her house in Chappaqua and never come out. When she visits Chelsea in Manhattan people will scowl and spit when her car drives by.”
Maybe things aren’t quite that bad today, but people are certainly angry. Everyone has been fuming for nearly a year now. Clinton has obviously noticed this and decided that her image needs burnishing. Hence her new book, “What Happened“. I’ve only read excerpts (I certainly don’t plan on buying it), but reviews are calling it partly an explanation, partly an apology and partly a grief-counselling session.
Thanks for that but I know what happened. I’ve been explaining it chapter and verse for months. This excerpt captured it pretty well:
Echoes of this are contained in a 9.25 New Yorker interview/analysis piece by David Remnick, called “Hillary Clinton Looks Back In Anger”. Asked to suggest questions for the former Secretary of State, a political soldier who worked on Clinton’s 2008 campaign says, “Ask her why she blew the biggest slam dunk in the history of fucking American politics!” A top Democratic donor says Clinton “should just zip it, but she’s not going to.” When asked about the book, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, says “Beg your pardon?” and walks away.
The following passage from Remnick’s piece summarizes the basic mistakes and blind spots in Hillary’s campaign:
“Trump, who lives in gilded penthouses and palaces, who flies in planes and helicopters emblazoned with his name, who does business with mobsters, campaigned in 2016 by saying that he spoke for the working man, that he alone heard them and felt their anger, and by branding Hillary Clinton an ‘élitist,’ out of touch with her country.
“The irony is as easy as it is enormous, and yet Clinton made it possible.
She practically kicked off her campaign by telling Diane Sawyer that the reason she and her husband cashed in on the lecture circuit on such an epic scale was that, when they left the White House, in 2001, they were ‘dead broke.; As earnestly as she has worked on behalf of women, the disadvantaged and many other constituencies, Clinton does not, for many people, radiate a sense of empathy. A resident of a bubble of power since her days in the Arkansas governor’s mansion, she makes it hard even for many supporters to imagine that her feet ever touch the ground.
“In ‘What Happened’, she describes how, when considering whether to run again in 2016, she had to consider all her negatives — “Clinton fatigue,” the dynastic question, her age, the accumulated distrust between her and the press — and then says that she completed the deliberative process by going to stay with Oscar and Annette de la Renta at Casa de Campo, their retreat in the Dominican Republic. ‘We swam, we ate good food, and thought about the future. By the time we got back, I was ready to run.’ This is perhaps not a universally relatable anecdote.
“Nor did she see much wrong with giving twenty-odd million dollars’ worth of speeches, including to Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions, conceding only that it was, in hindsight, bad ‘optics.’ (‘I didn’t think many Americans would believe that I’d sell a lifetime of principle and advocacy for any price,’ she writes. ‘That’s on me.’)
“In 2012, [Barack] Obama won over many working-class voters in the Midwest and elsewhere by reminding them that he had saved the automobile industry and, through strokes broad and subtle, by painting Mitt Romney as the heartless boss who would have handed out the pink slips. Despite Trump’s wealth and his televised role as a big shot who took glee in firing people, ‘Hillary somehow got portrayed the way Romney did,’ a close adviser to Clinton told me. ‘Those people'” — rural dumbshits — “‘felt she was against them. It was super gendered and classist. It’s hugely complicated, but she was the uppity woman…both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump drove the message that ‘she looks down on you.’ The ‘deplorable’ thing was awful, but she was losing those people hard by then.”
“Clinton’s relation to the press has always been vexed. In the book, Clinton singles out the Times for hammering away at her e-mail issue in a way that she says overwhelmed any negative coverage of Trump. ‘The Times covered her like she was a Mafia figure,’ one adviser said.
“Clinton has [long] known that she inspired hostility. Twenty-one years ago, in an article for this magazine called ‘Hating Hillary,’ by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., she admitted, ‘I apparently remind some people of their mother-in-law or their boss, or something.’” In the same piece, Arianna Huffington remarks on Clinton’s ‘self-righteousness’, Peggy Noonan on her ‘apple-cheeked certitude.’ Gates observed that Clinton was widely perceived as Mrs. Jellyby, the character in Charles Dickens’s ‘Bleak House’ who is as ‘intent on improving humanity as she is cavalier toward actual human beings…the zealous reformer with a heart as big as all Antarctica.’
“Such ingrained habits of media antagonism proved to be another factor that allowed Trump, the biggest liar in the history of Presidential politics, to be seen by tens of millions of people as a figure of rude authenticity, their champion. In Clinton’s view, she could never win with people who had been trained to regard her as a high-minded phony. Her wariness and evasions drained their sympathy; her strained attempts to win people back too often fell flat. Why couldn’t she be admired for her intelligence, her competence, her experience?
“In ‘What Happened’, Hillary voices her sense of exasperation:
“‘I’ll bet you know more about my private life than you do about some of your closest friends. You’ve read my e-mails, for heaven’s sake. What more do you need? What could I do to be ‘more real’? Dance on a table? Swear a blue streak? Break down sobbing? That’s not me. And if I had done any of those things, what would have happened? I’d have been ripped to pieces.”