A woman who still can’t face her fail­ure

As Hil­lary’s self-serv­ing book blames ev­ery­one else for her de­feat . . .

Daily Mail - - News - by Justin Webb FOR­MER BBC NORTH AMER­ICA EDI­TOR

EV­ERY hor­ror movie has it: the mo­ment at the end when the mon­ster is dead and the threat is over and ev­ery­one is dust­ing them­selves down and . . . sud­denly the mon­ster is back for one last thrash­ing at­tack.

one last doomed ef­fort to bring ev­ery­one down. one last book. Well, not nor­mally the book. but we are talk­ing here about Hil­lary Clin­ton and books — long books — are her thing.

Just as you thought it was safe to go out and poke around in the ashes of the 2016 u.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, she has come back with a book called What Hap­pened to re-ig­nite the fire, re­open wounds, carry on sim­mer­ing feuds.

She is rais­ing her voice again to lec­ture a na­tion. The mes­sage seems to be: they didn’t lis­ten last time — they’d bet­ter lis­ten now. How­ever, I am not sure they will.

Hil­lary Clin­ton is prop­erly Shake­spearean. She has enor­mous strengths. She is one of the most hard- work­ing politi­cians in Amer­i­can his­tory. My friend who ad­vised her when she was Sec­re­tary of State told me he used to try to miss the of­fi­cial plane home from for­eign trips and fly econ­omy be­cause it was more rest­ful. He could put on his eye-shades and get some sleep; on the Hil­lary plane there was no time for kip.

And yet all this hard work has got her nowhere. Given the chance to win the pres­i­dency against a man many Amer­i­cans re­garded as a loon, a cir­cus trick, a bal­loon ripe for prick­ing, she fell flat on her face, bal­loon-prick­ing pin stuck in her own foot.

And now we have the book she claims will tell us why. only it doesn’t. No, of course it doesn’t. Be­cause Hil­lary Clin­ton’s Shake­spearean flaw is the in­abil­ity to see that Hil­lary Clin­ton is part of the prob­lem.

She can play at be­ing self-crit­i­cal, ask­ing at one point: ‘ What makes me such a light­ning rod for fury? I’m re­ally ask­ing. I’m at a loss.’ But she is not re­ally in­ter­ested in the re­ply that many Amer­i­cans, in­side and out­side her party, might give.

Could it be, for ex­am­ple, that she and Bill groomed and then cap­tured the demo­cratic party and used it for their own ends? We learn noth­ing more about the al­le­ga­tions aired dur­ing the elec­tion that she per­son­ally as­sisted the adul­ter­ous Bill in at­tack­ing women who ac­cused him of sex abuse.

She ig­nores those who won­der how fem­i­nist and sis­terly she re­ally was when she and Bill were climb­ing the greasy pole. This is a glar­ing omis­sion in the book — an op­por­tu­nity to set the record straight that she missed.

COULD it also be that when she lec­tured peo­ple about sex­ism and racism last year, she sounded as if she was above them, look­ing down on them? That when she took huge sums of money from Wall Street firms for speeches, she seemed high-handed?

Her real prob­lem, of course, is that un­like Trump, she couldn’t find a way of ap­peal­ing to work­ing- class Amer­i­cans in his camp be­cause she found those who sup­ported him, as she in­fa­mously put it, ‘de­plorable’.

But Hil­lary doesn’t do self­crit­i­cism. Again and again in her mem­oir she looks as if she is go­ing to con­clude that she messed up, only to sw­erve at the last mo­ment and it’s some­one else’s fault.

It was the Rus­sians who were to blame for leak­ing dam­ag­ing emails! It was Bernie San­ders, the el­derly left-wing se­na­tor who ran so vig­or­ously against her for the demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion! It was then-FBI di­rec­tor James Comey who, days be­fore the elec­tion, reignited a scan­dal over whether her use of a pri­vate email server was il­le­gal! It was sex­ism! It was him. It was them. Above all, it was not her.

of course, her ex­cuses have some va­lid­ity. The Rus­sians were up to no good. The FBI di­rec­tor prob­a­bly messed up by an­nounc­ing a new in­ves­ti­ga­tion so close to the poll. Bernie San­ders was a nui­sance. And let us be blunt: Hil­lary did not be­come pres­i­dent, in part, be­cause of sex­ism that sees many Amer­i­cans un­able to take a woman se­ri­ously.

I re­mem­ber the jibe back in 2008, when I cov­ered her cam­paign to win the demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion against Barack obama, that she ‘re­minded men of their first wives’. Would peo­ple have been com­fort­able us­ing a racial slur about obama along those lines? No, to be fair, the first woman can­di­date has had a very tough time. To deny that is id­i­otic.

It’s also worth ac­knowl­edg­ing that there is a de­ranged group of Amer­i­cans who see Hil­lary Clin­ton as the anti-Christ.

And she is at her strong­est in this book, writ­ing — for the first time — about the im­pact this has: ‘For the record, it hurts to be torn apart,’ she says. ‘It may seem like it doesn’t bother me to be called ter­ri­ble names or have my looks mocked, but it does.’

But, wait a mo­ment. The Clin­tons have done more than their share of tear­ing apart. And this is where What Hap­pened stinks.

Through­out the book, she sug­gests that Bernie San­ders messed it up for her and be­haved badly. San­ders, Hil­lary writes, re­sorted to ‘ in­nu­endo and im­pugn­ing my char­ac­ter’ in a way that caused ‘last­ing dam­age’.

But I was there in 2008 when the Clin­tons — both of them — were try­ing to see off Barack obama, us­ing meth­ods that would make poor Bernie San­ders’s spec­ta­cles mist up.

Re­mem­ber, obama be­lieved that staffers in the Clin­ton camp had spread the ru­mour that he was se­cretly a Mus­lim. Hil­lary was asked about it on TV and gave this painfully nu­anced an­swer: ‘I take him on the ba­sis of what he says,’ and then when pressed, she said he’s not Mus­lim ‘ as far as I know’. So who is she to com­plain about in­nu­endo?

Some­times it went fur­ther and the mask slipped. In May 2008, she said this: ‘Se­na­tor obama’s sup­port among hard-work­ing Amer­i­cans, white Amer­i­cans, is weak­en­ing again . . .’

White Amer­i­cans! The New York Times (a news­pa­per tra­di­tion­ally sup­port­ive of the Clin­tons) called it ‘neg­a­tive cam­paign­ing with dis­turb­ing racial un­der­tones’.

So how bit­terly ironic it is to re­call can­di­date Hil­lary play­ing at pop­ulism in 2008 and to think about this adopted con­stituency of poor white peo­ple ditch­ing her so spec­tac­u­larly when an au­then­tic ver­sion came along in 2016.

But she doesn’t re­mem­ber any of that now. Bernie San­ders gets it in the neck for say­ing the truth: that the Clin­tons were close and cosy with big money. They were. They are. No­body in Amer­ica thinks oth­er­wise, ex­cept them.

At one point, Hil­lary man­ages to hint at a mea culpa over her high­rolling fi­nan­cial al­lies: ‘Es­pe­cially af­ter the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, I should have re­alised it would be bad “op­tics” [in other words, it looked ter­ri­ble] and stayed away from hav­ing any­thing to do with Wall Street. I didn’t. That’s on me.’

BUT San­ders wasn’t at­tack­ing Hil­lary be­cause of the ‘op­tics’: he was talk­ing about where her pri­or­i­ties were, where her heart was and where her fund­ing came from. San­ders raised stag­ger­ing sums from small donors. She chose Wall Street — though she didn’t have to.

And choos­ing Wall Street as her bed­fel­low in 2016, then fail­ing to make peace with San­ders and bring him on board as the vi­cepres­i­den­tial can­di­date, was a hor­ri­ble mis­take.

It was com­pounded by the usual Clin­ton over-think­ing and over- anal­y­sis, to which she al­ludes again and again in the man­ner of those an­noy­ing peo­ple at job in­ter­views who, when asked about their great­est fail­ing, grin smugly and say: ‘I might some­times be a lit­tle too good.’

The best bit of the book is when she loses. It’s hu­man. Al­most un­bear­able. And well-writ­ten.

‘Read­ing the news ev­ery morn­ing was like rip­ping off a scab,’ she says. And what­ever we think of her cam­paign, we wince.

We also laugh at some black hu­mour when she writes: ‘I doubt that many peo­ple read­ing this will ever lose a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, (maybe some have: Hi Al [Gore], hi John [ McCain], hi Mitt [Rom­ney], hope you’re well).’

But if only she had mixed that up with some gen­uine soulsearch­ing about why the party she led failed to ap­peal to so many peo­ple it should have ap­pealed to. That would have been worth the ef­fort.

un­for­tu­nately, she seems to think the pop­ulism that swept Trump to power is tem­po­rary, but it isn’t.

She doesn’t un­der­stand ei­ther, that a clever, wealthy can­di­date such as Bill Clin­ton or Barack obama can no longer win the White House sim­ply by telling Amer­ica’s work­ers to shape up.

Some of her most ar­dent sup­port­ers have com­plained that no man would be called on to write a full-scale apol­ogy; it would not oc­cur to a male politi­cian to bother. But that’s not true.

When the for­mer u.S. de­fence sec­re­tary Robert Mc­Na­mara wrote his mem­oirs in 1995, he be­gan with this short sen­tence about the Viet­nam War that he had helped pros­e­cute: ‘We were ter­ri­bly wrong. We owe it to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to ex­plain why.’

Not a bad first sen­tence. But not one that you’d ever get from Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Picture: REUTERS

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