In your upcoming “tell-all” memoir, “What Happened,” you write: “In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down.” After over 30 years of living with this calculating, fictional character, most of the public is looking forward to finally getting to know the real Hillary Clinton. The problem, of course, is that we all know exactly what happened in 2016: You lost to Donald Trump.
Your memoir, according to sources, will focus on how the Russians and former FBI director James Comey cost you the White House. So, basically, you will be peddling the same self-soothing revisionism about the 2016 election that’s been peddled by most Democrats since the day they realized they had actually picked the candidate who lost to Donald Trump.
Presumably, this fact is embarrassing to you — and others — and I completely get it. But the reasons Why It Happened are pretty clear.
First of all, no one really likes you. I don’t say this out of political or personal malice. I assume that few people like me, either. But being inherently unlikeable is an awkward trait when you have designs on higher office. A recent Bloomberg poll found that only 39 percent of Americans have a favorable view of you. People like you less than they do Donald Trump, whom you lost to, even though all you’ve been doing is hiking since exiting national politics.
Now, granted, this might have something to do with your long history of corruption, mendacity, and malleable political principles. Or maybe it’s just something about your personality. Whatever the case, no amount of whataboutism regarding Donald Trump can erase living history.
It’s also probably difficult for voters to be stirred by someone who wants to be president as badly as you do. The ambition, it oozes from you. And because you’ll say anything polls tell you to say, you are extraordinarily uninspiring. Your politics are a sort of a lagging indicator. By the time you embrace them, the moment has passed us by.
It must have been exhilarating for the rank and file of the Democratic Party to get behind a charismatic newcomer in 2008, who could blend populism and idealism with progressive policy goals. People might forget this now, but Barack Obama was a longshot underdog in 2007 when he entered the race as the anti-war candidate. (Remember when you pretended to be for the war and then against it? People noticed.) After your defeat, liberals had probably fooled themselves into believing that Clintonian hegemony was thankfully over. But you’re not a quitter.
Some politicians can get over their shadiness and disagreeable nature by excelling at retail politics or strategic thinking. You’re not that person. You came to prominence on the back of your husband’s success — a politician who happens, despite his many faults, to be exceptionally gifted in this area. You learned little from your failed forays into politics — Hillarycare, for instance. And your carpet-bagging Senate run saw you beating a lightweight Republican strawman. You confused nepotistic luck with talent. In the meantime, you probably crowded out women with far more talent. It happens.
While Bill, and Trump, and Joe Biden, and Obama could, on one level or another, connect with average Americans, you struggled. “What happened was that this was the first campaign that I can recall where my party did not talk about what it always stood for — and that was how to maintain a burgeoning middle class,” Biden said after the election. “You didn’t hear a single solitary sentence in the last campaign about that guy working on the assembly line making $60,000 a year and a wife making $32,000 as a hostess.” Not one.
Hey, I don’t like populism either, so I get why it’s hard for you. You can read about your many missteps in the book “Shattered,” so we don’t have to go over them here. It is worth noting, however, that this is the second time you lost a presidential race that everyone presumed you would win. In both races you outspent your opponent (just in case you were going to blame Citizens United).
Here’s what didn’t happen. Russia didn’t win the election for Trump. There is not a single piece of evidence that proves Vladimir Putin, though I’m sure he would if he could, altered, changed, swapped, etc., a single vote in this country. This is a partisan-driven fantasy and a conspiracy theory. You have a far better case blaming the media for its incessant coverage of Trump during the GOP primaries, which I’m sure delighted you.
Nor did Comey lose you the election. It’s not Comey’s fault that you set up a secret server to circumvent transparency — likely to hide favor-trading that you were engaging in for your foundation. It was you who then sent unsecured classified documents through that server, although you have constantly bragged about your long experience on these matters. It was your staff that was responsible for attempts to destroy all the evidence related to that server. It was your staff that had “cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.” And it was your top aide who failed to inform the FBI about classified emails on her computer that she did not hand over when she should have.
All these things would have landed most people in hot water, so you should probably be thankful you escaped with nothing more than a lost election.
That’s what happened.