Clinton’s book, ‘What Happened,’ serves as a kind of personal post-mortem of the 2016 election campaign. Indeed, many have joked it would have been more appropriately titled ‘What Happened?’ with a question mark stuck on the end because almost a year later, Hillary Clinton apparently still has no idea what actually happened.
There’s little need here to rehash Clinton’s view that Russia and Vladimir Putin are behind her epic downfall and Donald Trump’s shock victory, but we should take a look at some of the other people in her crosshairs, because Clinton is still managing to expand her repertoire of excuses for losing to Donald Trump.
In excerpts posted online before the book’s publication, Clinton lets her anger loose on Bernie Sanders, her main challenger for the Democratic nomination, for what she feels were unrealistic campaign promises. At one point, she compares Sanders to the “deranged hitchhiker” character from the 1998 movie ‘There’s Something About Mary’ who offers “seven-minute abs” instead of “eight-minute abs.”
“Well, why not six-minute abs? That’s what it was like in policy debates with Bernie,” Clinton writes.
Aside from being deranged and unrealistic, Clinton also scolds Sanders for “impugning her character” — which is rich, coming from the woman who ran a campaign that slyly tried to use McCarthyite smears to brand Sanders as a communist for the crime of spending his 1988 honeymoon in the former Soviet Union.
Clinton’s treatment of Sanders is particularly disgusting, however, when you consider that he endorsed her for president (and actually went out campaigning for her) despite the fact she “won” the Democratic nomination by secretly working to sink his campaign with the supposedly impartial Democratic National Committee (DNC). Now she shows her gratitude by devoting parts of her new book to bashing him.
The funny thing is, Sanders didn’t attack Clinton nearly as much as another Democratic challenger had done in the past. In 2008, Barack Obama pummeled and mocked Hillary Clinton in far harsher and more explicit terms than Bernie ever did — and yet, Clinton and Obama ended up the best of friends. Perhaps that had something to do with the fact that Obama could offer her a fancy job and Bernie couldn’t.
The media and debate moderators
There is little more hilarious than Clinton blaming the media for her losing an election to a man who was despised and reviled by an astoundingly high percentage of that media.
Yet, she finds a way. The media helped elect Trump by giving him massive amounts of free airtime and spending too much time on her email scandal, she writes.
Of course, the media gave Trump huge amounts of coverage. Every time he opened his mouth he said something more controversial than the last time. But the coverage he was receiving was not positive coverage. The media was not rooting for him. They were almost uniformly rooting for her.
The depth of her delusion becomes apparent when she takes aim at debate moderators for supposedly being unfair to her. That’s right, the candidate who had debate moderators feed her questions in advance, thinks the moderators were too hard on her.
In particular, Clinton was unhappy with NBC’s Matt Lauer during the Commander-in-Chief forum. She lashes out at Lauer’s “pointless ambush” because he had the audacity to question her about her use of a private email server as Secretary of State. To make matters worse, Lauer “soft-peddled” Trump, which made her want to “shake some sense” into the NBC host.
Jill Stein, Julian Assange, Susan Sarandon and Barack Obama
Clinton’s argument when it comes to Green Party candidate Jill Stein is that Stein essentially threw the election to Trump because some people voted for her.
God forbid any third-party candidate would have the audacity to run for president and actually get some votes. An outrageous act of treachery against the two-party system for sure. Stein’s visit to Moscow in December 2015 was also unacceptable, according to Clinton, because it meant she shared Trump’s “pro-Russia” stance.
This is also where Clinton throws in a jab at actress Susan Sarandon for the crime of not supporting her. Sarandon, originally a Sanders supporter (and later a supporter of Jill Stein), was heavily critical of Clinton during the campaign — enough to earn her a place in the Clinton Hall of Blame.
The “odious” Julian Assange, who released DNC emails through WikiLeaks during the campaign cycle is also in the firing line. Assange is a “hypocrite” who masquerades as a champion of transparency, but who should be “held accountable” for helping Russia and Putin by releasing information that damaged her campaign.
So far, none of this is particularly surprising. What is surprising though, is that Obama has now made an appearance on her hit list. If only Obama had made a speech announcing that America was “under attack” by the Russians, maybe people would have flocked to her campaign in droves. Maybe then it all would have been so different.
What actually happened
What happened is that Clinton’s hubris got in the way of her ability to see reality.
So blinded was she by a long-held assumption that someday the White House would be hers, that she never even drafted a concession speech. In fact, she was so completely sure of victory that she forked out $1.1 million to buy the house next door to her own for her presidential staff to use while she was working away from the White House.
Aside from his access to unlimited funds, no one could have had more stacked against him than Donald Trump. He made mistake after mistake. He told lie after lie — and was caught every time. He was caught up in scandal after scandal. The media despised him with a passion.
Clinton knows this. She knows it was almost impossible to lose to a man like Trump. That’s why she can’t stop trying to rationalize it by placing the blame everywhere but at her own feet.
In her book, Clinton does mere lip service to the idea that she deserves real blame for losing the election to the most unpopular candidate in history. She knows people want her to acknowledge her part in all this, but she doesn’t really believe it. It’s when she’s blaming other people that she gets most fired up.
Clinton’s former staffers know all this, too, and it’s why they’re not exactly delighted at the prospect of having to listen to her babble on about it for a 15 city book tour. One of them aptly called the book tour “the final torture” to be endured before Clinton might finally go away and stop talking for a while — a pretty harsh indictment.
Clinton complains that Sanders was “outraged about everything” and “thundered on” at every event about the sins of millionaires and billionaires. It is incredibly telling that she uses the fact that Sanders was outraged at injustice as an insult. If she herself had displayed some outrage at the things Americans were outraged by, she might have seen better results. Then again, she ran a status quo campaign. Any outrage she claimed to feel would have been insincere.
Wait you forgot this list pic.twitter.com/0rHah413Hk
— Big Business (@ActingacademyN) June 1, 2017
Clinton gave Democrats nothing to get excited about. She gave them nothing to believe in. When they wanted radical change, she gave them practical and realistic, according to her own conservative standards. Her rallying cry was something akin to: “Don’t get too excited, we have to be realistic!”… not exactly a powerful call to action.
Sanders gave his supporters passion and purpose and hope. He energized progressives. He didn’t dampen their optimism. He encouraged it. He wanted them to believe that more was possible — and with him, the Democrats likely would have beaten Trump.
Clinton is not a progressive. She doesn’t even like them. She thinks they’re impractical and unrealistic and shows nothing but disdain toward them. But she missed the mark badly. She read the political climate wrong. The anger and outrage that made Sanders a real challenger and propelled Trump into the White House were completely lost on her. She should have learned this in 2008 when Obama beat her using the very same tactics.
Of course, Sanders wouldn’t have been able to wave a magic wand and create a socialist utopia, but the Democrats would be in the White House. They wouldn’t be hand-wringing and crying over spilled milk.
In their new book, ‘Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed 2016 Campaign’, journalists Jon Allen and Amie Parnes make the case that no one, no campaign team, no matter how good, could have saved Clinton from herself. They write: “The campaign was an unholy mess, fraught with tangled lines of authority, petty jealousies, distorted priorities, and no sense of greater purpose. No one was in charge, and no one had figured out how to make the campaign about something bigger than Hillary.”
It was only ever about Hillary — and it still is.