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September 13 2017

Hillary Still Doesn't Understand What Happened

by Charlotte Hays

My copy of What Happened is on its way from Amazon, but, meanwhile, reviews of Mrs. Clinton's recollections of the 2016 presidential election appear to indicate that the book will remind us of why Mrs. Clinton lost an unlosable race.

In short, the book appears to be pure Hillary Clinton: remarkably un-self-aware, still refusing to accept responsibility in any meaningful way, and committed to the notion that sexism did her in, despite the ability of millions of other women to achieve their dreams. 

In a delicious review headlined "Hillary's Infinite Jest," Heather Wilhelm  shows how Clinton's view of the power of sexism is just one of the things that has not been re-evaluated. Nor has her overwhelming belief that government can do anything.

Wilhelm writes:     

Through Hillary’s lens, Elizabeth Warren’s problem isn’t that she’s a kooky socialist who could single-handedly send the economy careening off the cliff. It’s that she’s seen as a “shrill woman.” Most of Hillary’s problems were completely self-made, and yet here she is, explaining away: “The Puritan witch hunts might be long over, but something fanatical about unruly women still lurks in our national subconscious.” Well, it lurks in someone’s subconscious, certainly.

Between cutesy stories about counting the calories in Flavor Blasted Goldfish and sitting on Quest bars “to warm them up” — no, I have no idea what this means, either — and occasional eruptions of disdain toward people who weren’t inspired by her desperately uninspiring campaign, a larger thread unspools throughout the pages of What Happened.

Government, in Clinton’s view, can solve almost every issue, from child-raising to microeconomic trends to playground interpersonal relations. (“Many kids asked what I would do about bullying, which made me want to be president even more. I had an initiative called Better Than Bullying ready to go.”) Which brings us back to David Foster Wallace and the end notes of his “This Is Water” speech: “There is no such thing as not worshipping,” he told the students of Kenyon College. “Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”

For many, that choice turns out to be government, or politics, or political power. One wonders whether Clinton read the full “This Is Water” speech; one also wonders whether Clinton is earnest when she writes that “the White House is sacred ground.” It certainly makes for awkward reading — just like the whole of 2016.

John Podhoretz reviewed the book perceptively:

Had it been good, it would have been an instant classic.

It isn’t good, but it’s bad in ways that are instructive. It turns out Mrs. Clinton does not have a gift for genuine introspection; most of her acknowledgments of error are grudging and incomplete, or accompanied by passionate self-justifications and accusations of unfair and unjust treatment at the hands of Trump, the Republicans, the media, men, racists, right-wingers, Matt Lauer, and Bernie Sanders. It’s hard to blame her for this; most of us could not examine our own faults comfortably in print. But it makes the experience of reading the book somewhat tiresome.

To say on the one hand that she won the popular vote and only lost by 77,000 votes in three states and on the other that she lost because of misogyny and racism and nativism is the stuff that would make any reader who isn’t automatically of her camp scratch his or her head in bafflement. Barack Obama won two commanding victories with absolute majorities in 2008 and 2012; how then was her defeat, the defeat of one of the whitest people in America, the result of hatred of black people? The illogic is discomfiting and circular.

. . .

The most interesting part of What Happened comes when she examines the reasons Vladimir Putin had for feeling antipathetic toward her and her own growing concern about Russian intrusion into the West’s political processes. The least interesting, and the most risible, sections involve her effort to come across as a regular person who loves hot sauce (“I’ve been a fan since 1992, when I became convinced it boosted my immune system, as research now shows it does”) and occasionally eats ice cream (“One hot night in Omaha, Nebraska, I was consumed with the desire for an ice cream bar . . .[an aide] called an advance staffer, who kind picked some up from the drug store and met us at the plane on our way out of town”).

The falsest moment comes when she explains why she chose to run for president again, which she unconvincingly pretends was a choice that was hard for her to make: “It was the chance to do the most good I would ever be able to do.”

Gimme a break, Tartuffe.

The Federalist has some amusing reactions to What Happened, while The Free Beacon treats of Mrs. Clinton's fleeting comparison of herself to a character in Game of Thrones. I blogged yesterday on Mrs. Clinton's not at all surprising refusal to grant absolution to women who failed to vote for her.

I have the distinct impression that this book will afford more reading pleasure to those who did not cast votes for Mrs. Clinton than to readers who did.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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