‘What hap­pened’ in 2016? Hil­lary still doesn’t know

Cecil Whig - - OPINION -

Nearly 80 mil­lion baby boomers will soon be­gin re­ly­ing more on the govern­ment as they en­ter into their re­tire­ment years. They’ll be el­i­gi­ble to col­lect from So­cial Se­cu­rity and from Medi­care or Med­i­caid pro­grams, which al­ready make up 45 per­cent of fed­eral spend­ing and will in­crease to nearly 62 per­cent in 15 years as 10,000 baby boomers re­tire each day.

The baby boomers have earned their re­tire­ment through pay­ing their taxes and So­cial Se­cu­rity, and they did it the good ol’ Amer­i­can way through hard work. Amer­ica is reach­ing a tip­ping point, be­cause the fed­eral govern­ment is tap­ping into those hard-earned dol­lars to sup­port ev­ery­thing from il­le­gal im­mi­grants to lazy Amer­i­cans.

Cre­at­ing jobs and re­mov­ing wel­fare to most would greatly re­duce the bud­get. It is time Wash­ing­ton started pro­tect­ing the in­vest­ments of the Amer­i­can peo­ple as if they re­ally were the elected ser­vants of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.

There is a rea­son we call it “pub­lic ser­vice.”

LOS AN­GE­LES — Was this book nec­es­sary? Hil­lary Clin­ton’s an­guished, an­gry mem­oir of her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, “What Hap­pened,” will be un­veiled this week, com­plete with tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ances and a 15city lec­ture tour.

Other Democrats have been dread­ing this moment for months.

“I love Hil­lary,” Al Franken, the sen­a­tor from Min­nesota, said a few weeks ago. “I think she has a right to an­a­lyze what hap­pened. But we do have to move on.”

A back­ward-look­ing slog through the dis­ap­point­ments of last year’s cam­paign is not what most Demo­cratic politi­cians want to dom­i­nate the news this fall.

And that, judg­ing from the many ex­cerpts that have leaked, is ex­actly what Clin­ton’s book is: a long and du­ti­ful post-mortem on how she lost to an un­qual­i­fied blowhard who was even less pop­u­lar than she was.

Clin­ton doesn’t spare her­self from blame. She ad­mits mis­takes large and small. “It’s fair to say that I didn’t re­al­ize how quickly the ground was shift­ing un­der our feet,” she writes. She ac­knowl­edges that she never came up with a theme as com­pelling as Trump’s “Make Amer­ica Great Again.”

But she doesn’t spare any­one else from blame, either. Her list of the guilty be­gins with James Comey, Ju­lian As­sange and Vladimir Putin, all jus­ti­fi­ably. Less jus­ti­fi­ably, she also blames Bernie San­ders, and even — in smaller ways — Barack Obama and Joe Bi­den.

Her de­ci­sion to re­lit­i­gate her bit­ter pri­mary bat­tles with San­ders has es­pe­cially dis­tressed other Democrats be­cause it rolls a grenade into their not-yet-suc­cess­ful ef­forts to re­unify the party.

The in­de­pen­dent sen­a­tor’s at­tacks on her big-dol­lar fundrais­ing made it eas­ier for Trump to paint her as “Crooked Hil­lary,” Clin­ton com­plains. “I don’t know if that both­ered Bernie or not.”

San­ders — who, as luck would have it, is on a book tour of his own — fired back. “Sec­re­tary Clin­ton ran against the most un­pop­u­lar can­di­date in the his­tory of this coun­try and she lost, and she was up­set about it and I un­der­stand that,” he said last week. “But our job is not to go back­ward. ... I think it’s a lit­tle bit silly to keep talk­ing about 2016.”

This, of course, is a gift to Trump and his con­ser­va­tive al­lies. They’d like noth­ing bet­ter than to make Clin­ton the pub­lic face of the Demo­cratic Party again — es­pe­cially since her ap­proval rat­ing in the polls, at 30 per­cent, is even lower than the pres­i­dent’s. Fox News Chan­nel is giv­ing the book launch lav­ish cov­er­age, in­clud­ing seg­ments re-ex­am­in­ing the con­tro­versy over her emails.

Clin­ton’s ex­cuse: “I had to get this off my chest!” she writes at one point, an ex­pla­na­tion that pretty much cov­ers all 512 pages.

But most los­ing pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates don’t write books about the ex­pe­ri­ence. And the ones who do nor­mally wait a decade or so be­fore rip­ping the ban­dages off their wounds.

Mitt Rom­ney didn’t do it af­ter 2012. John McCain didn’t do it af­ter 2008. (As he noted last week, “You’ve got to move on.”) To find a loser who did memo­ri­al­ize his de­feat, you have to go back to Richard M. Nixon in 1960 — not a model you might have ex­pected Clin­ton to em­u­late. There’s a rea­son for that. Air­ing griev­ances, even when they’re jus­ti­fied, rarely shows any­one’s most ap­peal­ing side. For los­ing can­di­dates, even in ar­guably stolen elec­tions, the tra­di­tion has been stoic si­lence.

It would be one thing if Clin­ton’s book de­liv­ered new in­sights about what went wrong. But it doesn’t. Ev­ery one of her ex­pla­na­tions has been hashed out al­ready.

Here’s the pity: She could have writ­ten a dif­fer­ent book — a book that briskly sum­ma­rized the les­sons of her loss and sug­gested a path for­ward for the causes she loves. It wouldn’t have been a best­seller, but it might have been more use­ful. Need­less to say, the rel­a­tively brief, for­ward-look­ing part of Clin­ton’s mes­sage has been swamped in me­dia cov­er­age by all the juicy score-set­tling.

Clin­ton ap­pears to in­tend her book to be a ve­hi­cle for her reemer­gence onto the pub­lic stage. “There were plenty of peo­ple hop­ing that I, too, would just dis­ap­pear,” she writes. “But here I am.”

She has set up a new fundrais­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion to sup­port pro­gres­sive causes and serve as her plat­form. (It’s called “On­ward To­gether,” a name even less in­spir­ing than her cam­paign slo­gan, “Stronger To­gether.”)

But af­ter all her re­flec­tion, she still hasn’t quite fig­ured out what went wrong.

“What makes me such a light­ning rod for fury?” she writes. “I’m re­ally ask­ing. I’m at a loss.”

With that ques­tion unan­swered, she might have been bet­ter off stow­ing “What Hap­pened” in a desk drawer. The les­son she’s learn­ing is a harsh one: Af­ter a dis­as­trous elec­tion, even the sup­port­ers of a de­feated can­di­date may not be ea­ger to have her around.

Doyle McManus is a columnist for the Los An­ge­les Times.

WASH­ING­TON — For too long, per­haps, Penn State Univer­sity has lived in its own lit­tle world. It’s a school so ded­i­cated to foot­ball its lead­ers turned their backs on what be­came one of the worst scan­dals in the his­tory of col­lege ath­let­ics. Their un­healthy idol­iza­tion of their late long-time head coach Joe Paterno led to his dis­grace, the in­car­cer­a­tion of a de­viant for­mer as­sis­tant coach, Jerry San­dusky, who most likely will spend the rest of his life in prison, NCAA sanc­tions, and the dis­missal of the school’s pres­i­dent and ath­letic di­rec­tor, both of whom are in le­gal jeop­ardy. The fi­nan­cial cost to the school has been sub­stan­tial.

To­day, though, not that many years later, the foot­ball team is again highly ranked and fill­ing a huge sta­dium in one of the more dif­fi­cult col­lege towns to reach.

But with the con­tin­u­ing fall­out over the haz­ing death of a young fra­ter­nity pledge, the Big Ten school and Penn­syl­va­nia tax­pay­ers may have an­other costly prob­lem on their hands — de­spite a judge ear­lier this month throw­ing out the most se­ri­ous charges in a crim­i­nal case against mem­bers of the in­volved fra­ter­nity.

The prose­cu­tor, left irate, an­nounced he will seek to re­in­state the tossed man­slaugh­ter charges by chal­leng­ing the rul­ing of Mag­is­te­rial Dis­trict Judge Allen Sin­clair, who took ac­tion with­out ex­plain­ing his rea­son­ing af­ter days of pre­trial ar­gu­ments in the case against the mem­bers of Beta Theta Pi, one of the old­est fra­ter­ni­ties in the coun­try. Less-se­ri­ous charges were left stand­ing.

In case you missed it, the mo­rons who oc­cu­pied the Beta house ap­pear to have en­cour­aged 19-year-old Ti­mothy Pi­azza to drink so much booze that he fell down a flight of stairs, badly in­jur­ing him­self. For 12 hours, they did noth­ing about it, de­spite a sense there was some­thing ter­ri­bly wrong and the urg­ing of at least one per­son present to call 911, ac­cord­ing to the grand jury in­dict­ment. They put him on a couch, where he awoke be­fore pass­ing out again, and a video shows them plug­ging their noses against the smell of his vomit. He died a day later.

What were the frat broth­ers think­ing? About them­selves, no doubt.

But why do bad things keep hap­pen­ing at Penn State? One has to won­der if it has some­thing to do with its re­mote­ness, which per­haps pro­tects a fra­ter­nity-and-foot­ball-fo­cused type of cul­ture many other schools have left for the his­tory books. Af­ter all, what else is there to do for en­ter­tain­ment? Prob­lems ex­ist at smaller col­leges as well, but rules of be­hav­ior are eas­ier to en­force at such schools.

Haz­ing of fresh­men, mainly by fra­ter­ni­ties, goes back a long way. It is a self-per­pet­u­at­ing prod­uct of im­ma­ture minds. Fed­eral mil­i­tary acad­e­mies banned the ac­tiv­ity decades ago fol­low­ing World War II. But even to­day, too many col­lege ad­min­is­tra­tions give only lip ser­vice to en­forc­ing rules against the prac­tice.

The Be­tas are no longer at Penn State, banned from the cam­pus, their house closed. Tough new rules about al­co­hol, in­clud­ing keg par­ties, have been in­sti­tuted by the school’s pres­i­dent — all well and good.

But it’s too early to know the last­ing im­pact of this tragedy, and af­ter the judge’s wa­ter­ing down of the in­dict­ment, what should be a wakeup call may not sound as loudly.

Pi­azza’s par­ents are fu­ri­ous at the judge, and the school can ex­pect an ex­pen­sive civil suit no mat­ter what the crim­i­nal trial pro­duces. Some­one needs to pay dearly. Those who thought about them­selves rather than the young­ster ly­ing on the couch need to be held up as ex­am­ples of what such fool­ish­ness costs. Ob­vi­ously, this judge isn’t the one to make that hap­pen.

Penn State might have a good foot­ball sea­son, but Pi­azza and San­dusky’s vic­tims won’t be cel­e­brat­ing.

Dan Thomas­son is an op-ed columnist for Tri­bune News Ser­vice and a for­mer vice pres­i­dent of Scripps Howard News­pa­pers. Read­ers may send him email at: thomas­son­dan@aol.com.

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