Mem­oir shows no re­morse

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - BOOKS - PETER CON­RAD

her. She mis­tak­enly as­sumed that Amer­i­can pol­i­tics is about pol­icy, whereas Trump saw that it is now an ex­ten­sion of show­biz.

In­stead of re­cu­per­at­ing, Clin­ton has opted for a re-en­act­ment of a re­mote past. Her book grows fat on rosy rem­i­nis­cences about her child­hood base­ball games, her first date with Bill, and Chelsea’s breech birth, with vic­tory laps to com­mem­o­rate her achieve­ments as a “lady lawyer” in Arkansas, a “home­town sen­a­tor’ in New York (where she had never ac­tu­ally lived when she ran for of­fice), and a sec­re­tary of state who trav­elled “al­most a mil­lion miles”. She has rea­son to be proud, but does any of that help ex­plain what hap­pened on Novem­ber 8? When the reck­on­ing ar­rives, she di­verges into fan­tasies about an al­ter­na­tive fu­ture. She gives de­tails of the leg­is­la­tion she would now be advancing, and even prints (or, as she puts it, “shares”) the ora­tion she “never got a chance to de­liver that night”, which ends by declar­ing that “Amer­ica is the great­est coun­try in the world” and promis­ing that “we will make Amer­ica even greater” — lines that might have drib­bled from the mouth of Trump.

It’s all very well to re­peat “I love Amer­ica”, as she rit­u­al­is­ti­cally does: mustn’t she also dis­like at least half of it for re­ject­ing her? Here her im­mense self-pos­ses­sion comes to her aid.

She re­mem­bers the white su­prem­a­cist who mur­dered wor­ship­pers in a church in Charleston, be­ing told by rel­a­tives of his vic­tims “I for­give you”. Then she asks her­self what she feels about Trump vot­ers, the so-called “de­plorables”. She an­swers: “It’s com­pli­cated”, but the pre­ced­ing anec­dote speaks for her. She for­gives them: like the rab­ble of cru­ci­fiers, they knew not what they did.

A brief, em­bar­rassed reference to ear­lier times is in­ad­ver­tently telling: Bill and Hillary were guests at Trump’s wed­ding to Me­la­nia (and, as the ti­tan­i­cally petty bride­groom still re­mem­bers, they didn’t bring a present). “We weren’t friends,” says Hillary de­fen­sively. Then why go?

It turns out Bill was “speak­ing in the area that week­end”, so they went for a laugh; Hillary cal­cu­lates that Trump wanted them for their “star power”. The com­ment re­flects as badly on the Clintons as it does on Trump: they re­mind me of the Duke and Duchess of Wind­sor, who sub­sidised their res­i­dence at the Wal­dorf As­to­ria by charg­ing a fee for at­ten­dance at Man­hat­tan cock­tail par­ties.

There is one wrench­ingly per­cep­tive in­sight about Trump, who seems, she says, as if he “didn’t even want to be pres­i­dent at all” — un­like Clin­ton, who wanted it al­most more than life it­self. Yes, he now re­lives the elec­tion as ob­ses­sively as she does, and with sim­i­lar mis­giv­ings.

He thought it would be the prize handed out in the sea­son fi­nale of The Ap­pren­tice; it didn’t oc­cur to him that four years — if we’re un­lucky — of te­dious of­fice work lay ahead. Mad­dened by the false po­si­tion he finds him­self in, the pris­oner of a re­al­ity that is not at all like re­al­ity TV, he’s there­fore con­cen­trat­ing on find­ing a way to get him­self fired.

De­spite Clin­ton’s ap­peal for sym­pa­thy, it’s Trump that her book made me feel mo­men­tar­ily sorry for.

© Ob­server

Hillary Clin­ton makes a state­ment af­ter los­ing out to Don­ald Trump in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion

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