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'What Happened': Ready for a fresh election rehash?

'What Happened': Ready for a fresh election rehash?
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signing a copy of her new book at Barnes & Noble bookstore at Union Square in Manhattan on Tuesday.

Why did Hillary Clinton lose? What Happened?

“What Happened” (without the question mark, because it purports to describe the answer) is, of course, the title of her just released memoir of the 2016 election. We all know “what happened” and are living with the consequences. Clinton won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote, most especially in three big “blue wall” states she was expected to win (Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania), which cost her the only vote that really matters, the Electoral College majority vote.

But the 10-month-old questions of why and how it happened will get a fresh rehash with the release of “What Happened.”

I need to stipulate immediately that I haven’t read the book-length Clinton version of “what happened” yet. I did listen to an excellent long interview with her about the book by the guys (former Obama campaign players, by the way) who interviewed her for 47 minutes on their podcast, “Pod Save America.” I thought she came off well in that discussion, mostly taking, within the bounds of reason, responsibility for “what happened.” Mostly, as I recall it, she blamed herself for not thinking far enough outside the box to anticipate how strange a campaign might become with an opponent like Donald Trump.

As I’ve confessed a few times before, I’m not Clinton’s biggest fan. I mostly hold her vote for the Iraq War against her (don’t believe she ever explained it adequately nor took responsibility for it fully). Still, I voted for her without qualm or hesitation in November and oh do I wish she had become our first-ever Madame President. (Still hope to live long enough to see that highest, hardest glass ceiling broken.)

I find the postmortems mostly off-point. Millions of Americans voted for Donald Trump because they believed he would help them in ways that he will not. Many others weren’t excited about him, but convinced themselves that Clinton would be worse. According to me, that was a mistake and a big and obvious one.

The he’s-not-good-but-she’s-worse reasons many of them gave over the months (e-mail servers, Benghazi, her sin of standing by her womanizing husband, etc., plus many that were not just exaggerated but plain false) don’t come close to adding up (for me), especially considering the alternative. I don’t claim to know how much was sexism (any consideration of which must include the offsetting votes she may have gained by the historic nature of her candidacy). It’s generally true and helpful to recall that partisan loyalty is deeply enmeshed in the DNA of many American voters.

Polls tell us that Clinton also had a “likability” problem. That one sends me to the moon. She wasn’t running to be your best friend, or your friend at all. You would never be in the same room with her.

Judge her on her record, her proposals, her priorities, her competence, her character (with the caveat that there’s a limit to how much you can know the real of character of people you know mostly as TV performers). But please, just so I can come back from the moon, don’t judge candidates on which one you would rather have a beer with. You won’t be having a beer with any of them.

What I really don’t care about is the list of reasons that usually arise when discussing why Clinton lost. Based on the podcast I cited above, she seems to blame Bernie Sanders a good bit, which doesn’t help anything.

Others can retrospectively find every strategic/tactical error she made (why didn’t she go to Michigan and Wisconsin more?), which is the kind of Monday-morning-quarterbacking that is useless. (After you’ve thrown the interception, we all know if would’ve been better if you had thrown to that guy who was wide open on the other side, or even taken the sack. None of us had to make that decision with huge men trying to throw us to the ground.)

OK. Please disregard that rant. Having not read Clinton’s book, my best idea at the moment is to pass along this link to a sort-of review by Jon Meacham for the New York Times. I call it a sort-of review because Meacham not only read “What Happened,” he also read a great many other books written by candidates who had lost presidential elections.

It’s true that many recent unsuccessful nominees did not write such a book. And no one ever got one into the bookstores as quickly after the election as Clinton did. But, after an interval, many presidential race losers did reflect on and write about the experience and reading summaries of them via Meacham I felt a certain collective wisdom emerging from excerpts he provided, like this one from Richard Nixon’s book, written in 1962, two years after he narrowly lost to John F. Kennedy (and before he came back to win the presidency in 1968).

Richard Nixon

Introducing this quote from Nixon, Meacham says that “Nixon was forever defensive — it was part of his persona — but he gamely took on the armchair analysts about 1960 …"

 “Had I lost by two million votes, or more, no one could say ‘if you had just done this or that you would have won. But when a shift of ten or twelve thousand votes in three or four key states would have overturned the result, anyone could make a pretty good case for the proposition — ‘if only you had taken my advice, you would have won.’ ”

Nixon, Meacham says, “listed no fewer than 16 purported 'sure roads to victory’ — Nixon put quotation marks around the phrase to convey irony — from ‘I should have refused to debate Kennedy’ to ‘I should have been more ‘liberal’ (particularly on civil rights), as Rockefeller supporters wanted.” Or, conversely, ‘I should have been more ‘conservative’ (again, particularly on civil rights), as Goldwater people argued.”

Hillary Clinton tells us she will not try again. Nixon, writing in 1962 as he prepared for what would be another failed campaign for governor of California, and who still harbored Oval Office dreams that would eventually come true (and turn into nightmares), couldn’t help in 1962 being what Meacham called being “self-serving” about why he had lost. Wrote Nixon:

 I believe that I spent too much time in the last campaign on substance and too little time on appearance: I paid too much attention to what I was going to say and too little to how I would look.

Perhaps, as Meacham implies, Nixon was being a little sarcastic. But he was nonetheless prescient. The amount of campaign coverage that is now about atmospherics, including the handsomeness-or-lack-of-same among candidates, is getting embarrassing.

Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford was the only person to accede to the presidency after being appointed to the vice presidency. Then he lost his 1976 bid for not-exactly-re-election to Jimmy Carter. Ford wrote in his 1979 memoir, “A Time to Heal,” that when then-California-Gov. Ronald Reagan decided to challenge Ford for the 1976, he called Ford to tell him personally of his plans.

I found that detail touching in an old-school-manners kind of way. But Ford, according to his memoir, took it hard and told Reagan that it would divide the Republican Party and only help the Democrats. Reagan disagreed, and ran anyway. Ford defeated him narrowly in a primary campaign that went all the way to the convention floor. Ford then went on to lose narrowly to Carter and ending up agreeing with himself that Reagan’s primary challenge cost him the election.

Linking that race to the most recent election, Meacham wrote:

In a way, Reagan was to Ford what Bernie Sanders was to Hillary Clinton or Eugene McCarthy was to Hubert Humphrey or, four years later, Ted Kennedy would be to Jimmy Carter: a charismatic figure who won the hearts of many and whose popularity failed to translate to the eventual nominee. [Quoting Clinton here]: "Bernie and I had a spirited contest of ideas, which was invigorating, but I nonetheless found campaigning against him to be profoundly frustrating," Clinton writes [in ‘What Happened.’]

"He didn’t seem to mind if his math didn’t add up or if his plans had no prayer of passing Congress and becoming law. For Bernie, policy was about inspiring a mass movement and forcing a conversation about the Democratic Party’s values and priorities. By that standard, I would say he succeeded. But it worried me. I’ve always believed that it’s dangerous to make big promises if you have no idea how you’re going to keep them. When you don’t deliver, it will make people even more cynical about government."

I don’t know how to feel about Clinton’s put-down of Bernie-the-unrealistic-dreamer. Smells a little sour-grape-ish to me, and I gather there’s a lot of score settling in “What Happened.”

Sanders’ leftish ideas, like single-payer health care, are spreading among Democrats. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dem nomination fight in 2020 comes to a single-payer advocate against a save-and-improve-Obamacare person.

Back, for a quick sec to the Ford memoir, about which Meacham writes:

In the end, despite a great Ford surge through the fall, Jimmy Carter won the White House. Like Hillary Clinton, like Humphrey, like Nixon, like McGovern, Ford ruminated, if briefly, on what had gone wrong.

"What if I hadn’t pardoned Nixon? How many people voted against me because of that? What if I had kept Rockefeller on the ticket as my running mate and hadn’t selected Dole? Bob, a loyal friend, had campaigned very effectively and we had won the crucial farm states. But would Nelson have made the difference in New York, Ohio or Pennsylvania?"

Clinton admits that she is left with a similar, sad, unknowable list of what-would-have-happened-if-I-had-said-this-or-done-that.

Jimmy Carter

Writes Meacham:

To borrow a phrase from George W. Bush, Carter misunderestimated Reagan, and Carter has never tried very hard to conceal his contempt for the man who crushed his bid for re-election. Carter wrote that he was “pleased that Governor Reagan was the nominee,” adding: “With him as my opponent, the issues would be clearly drawn. At the time, all my political team believed that he was the weakest candidate the Republicans could have chosen. My campaign analysts had been carefully studying what he had been saying during the Republican primary elections, and it seemed inconceivable that he would be acceptable as president when his positions were clearly exposed to the public.

Carter’s book, “Keeping Faith,” was published in 1982, two years after Carter had lost his re-election effort to Reagan. Unlike most of the others, Carter wrote less about the campaign and more about his efforts to free the U.S. hostages in Iran, but when he does discuss his 1980 defeat to Reagan, he comes across (to Meacham) as a man who simply could not get his head around the idea that American would actually buy what Reagan was selling. Writes Meacham, quoting Carter:

I did not realize then [in the summer of 1980] that the press and public would not believe that Reagan actually meant what he was saying — although we tried to emphasize the radical nature of his departure from the policies of my administration and from those of my predecessors in the White House.

While Carter didn’t provide much analysis of how and why he lost, Meacham writes that “Clinton has given us an exhaustive post-mortem, from Russian trolling to her strategy to win white working-class voters. She acknowledges that (quoting Clinton from “What Happened”):

 "There was a fundamental mismatch between how I approach politics and what a lot of the country wanted to hear in 2016. I’ve learned that even the best plans and proposals can land on deaf ears when people are disillusioned by a broken political system and disgusted with politicians. When people are angry and looking for someone to blame, they don’t want to hear your 10-point plan to create jobs and raise wages. They want you to be angry, too."

I’ve pillaged and plundered enough from Meacham’s excellent long piece. As a Minnesotan, I must report that Walter Mondale did not write a postmortem on his 1984 defeat to Reagan. Nor did Humphrey do exactly that, but in his 1976 autobiography, “The Education of a Public Man,” Hubert Humphrey wrote of what was going in in his head when he lost to Nixon in 1968:  

 What am I going to do? There isn’t anything I want to do. I wanted to be President. … I was ready. I’d really trained for the presidency. I know government. We had such great plans. We could have changed things. Damn it, I love this country. We could have done so much good.

Have a good Thursday.

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Comments (60)

The real question is still

why we have a system where Clinton could win the election by at least 3 million votes and still be denied the office.
Oh, I'm familiar with the historical reasons, but we've had over two centuries to clean it up, and haven't,

All I can say is

…amen, Hubert.

Get over it!

It's thoughts like these that will keep the Republicans in power for some time to come. Clinton has given, what, 40 reasons of why she lost. She does not blame herself. If anything, she was helped by a slanted DNC that wanted to do most of the dirty work and hide her shortcomings for the main event. It doesn't help that she used her position in the State Department to make her and her friends very rich. With the myriad of things about her and her actions, people don't trust her. She got beat by a less than favorable guy. People still say she won the total number of votes, big deal. So you win most of the biggest (and safe) states by a large margin, especially California. If the Republicans put forth someone even barely more likable than Trump, the election would have been a slaughter. People just need to realize that Hilary just plain lost because her shortcomings were just too great.

Hi Eric,Man, I can't tell

Hi Eric,

Man, I can't tell you how much I love this book. I didn't buy it, of course, and won't. But I don't have to because passages from it will be hanging around the necks of Democrat candidates for the next 5 years.

But I don't think she's done yet; there are more culprits to blame, and I'm counting on her to write a sequal. "You'll never get rid of me, you B******'s".

Can't wait.

Before all you boys join the

Before all you boys join the chorus of Hillary-bashers, do her the courtesy of reading the book!

I am amazed that anyone tries to comment negatively on the book, especially with attacks that claim Clinton doesn't blame herself at all for the loss, without having read the book.

She's too smart for you guys. She has 40 reasons to explain her loss to an unqualified
Republican candidate because she's an intellectual with integrity, a careful scholar with deep policy roots, a historian with a unique perspective (from within the race) on what happened, and there were--to anybody really watching in 2016-- at least 40 contributing factors to her Electoral College loss. One of them, which nobody but Hillary Clinton so far is emphasizing, is the hatred-of-women (misogyny) factor. Anyone who followed the campaign had to be stunned by the raw violence of the hatred-of-Hillary-because-she's-a-strong-woman, a hatred shared by many American women who voted against her for being uppity and for not having left Bill Clinton when he was President.

And to Eric and his buddies who say this book is full of "sour grapes": Hillary Clinton has a right to "settle scores" with certain people who didn't help prevent Trump from winning: Bernie, your name is on that, beside that of James Comey.

Hi Constance,With all due

Hi Constance,

With all due respect, you do strong women a disservice
I know strong women; I married one.

Hillary didn't lose because she is strong, she lost because she's a patholigical liar; she lost because she compromised national security by treating TS/SAP intelligence with less care than Keebler keeps its recipe for cookies; she lost because she presented herself with a cringe worthy aire of entitlement.

We will elect a woman some day, and because she will likely be a Republican, she will be elected because she is strong, not because of her gender.

Cheers

I almost choked

OK, I buy the email issue. And I disagree with your entitlement argument.

But I almost choked with your "pathological liar" argument. This country just elected, to it's highest office, someone who is the most extreme pathological liar we've have seen run for office. And that excludes the extreme exaggerations which, for Trump, we've learned to ignore.

Hi Harris,Yeah, I knew

Hi Harris,

Yeah, I knew Trump's propensity for prevarication would come up, and it's a valid observation.

The difference, for me, is Trump lies about silly, sophomoric little details; "covfefe" was not a typo..like a kid caught with his paw in the cookie jar.

I don't like it, I don't condone it. But he has not, so far as we know, lied to cover up crimes involving national security.

Hillary's lies are calculated and malicious. She's got a real dark side to her. Trump is a buffoon having a good time; as long as he's got Kelly in the drivers seat he wont do much harm.

You can disagree, and like I said, your disagreement has validity, but thats how I see it.

Well...

"I fired the FBI Director because this Trump Russia stuff is just a made up deal "

A silly sophomoric detail?

"I was fired as FBI Director

"I was fired as FBI Director because Trump thinks this Russia stuff is just a made up deal "

Those were former Director Comey's words, Edward. So I fixed it for you.

It's not strictly sophomoric, more like childish petulance, IMO. Comey hated Trump; it was never going to work out, but Trump did give it a try.

Get out of jail free card

There is this little matter of Trump wanting Comey to assure him that he would not be involved in any investigations of Russian election hacking.

"There is this little matter

"There is this little matter of Comey's allegation regarding Trump wanting Comey to assure him that he would not be involved in any investigations of Russian election hacking"

Fixed that one too. Comey
1. Hated Trump
2. Had been called back to answer more questions for Congress.
3. Was villified from the right and the left.
4. Was being kept awake at night with fevered nightmares where his career was spinning down a Yuge drain ("seemed so real!")

I don't blame him for being the proverbial disgruntled former employee, but that describes him perfectly.

And by the way Paul, it appears the the left's obsession with Russian hackers may blow up in their faces. There are reports surfacing that suggest the DNC's indicted IT manager uploaded Trrrabytes if data...the same data that ended up with Wikileaks, to a "secret server".
http://dailycaller.com/2017/09/12/exclusive-dws-it-guy-was-banned-from-h...

Did he sell it to someone? The Russians? The Trump campaign? We don't know yet, but this is beginning to look a lot like the Benghazi investigation that took a (fortuitous) turn against Hillary Clinton.

Be careful what you ask for!

you are so wrong

hatred of women? raw violence?? You provide the perfect example as to why so many couldn't get on the Hillary bandwagon, the constant gender and race baiting just wore people down.

hatred of women? raw violence?

Sorry, that's all on the record.

Sure, people can be intemperate in a particular moment. They also may cheer and jeer and chant those things, just to be part of a crowd or feel close to the person leading them in those thoughts. But there were signs, tshirts, bumper stickers which did require some independent, knowing action.

Don't try to rewrite history so soon--it's too early.

Strong smart women are a threat to many, especially men

CS: You wrote much of what I had planned to. I will add more.

Smart women are a real threat to many, especially men. Hillary Clinton was the most qualified presidential candidate this country has ever had. She is incredibly smart and disciplined and rose up through the ranks with increasingly more important positions. She was an excellent Sec of State.

The REPs have spent the past 25, 26 years trying to destroy both Clintons in every way possible. The witch hunts and tax payer funded investigations wasted a lot of time, $ and resources but never produced any proof of wrongdoing.

The media loved all of the extra viewers during the presidential campaign, brought in by Trump's antics and worse, and his perceived 'entertainment value', which increased their ad coffers tremendously.

The Koch Bros (Libertarians) and Mercers shelled out almost $1 BILION dollars to get Trump, Pence and Bannon into the White House. It's noteworthy that the Mercers of own Breitbart, which is supportive of white supremacists.

Then there were the Russian-paid Macedonian hackers, who also spread well-timed lies about Hillary, followed by the ill-timed and inappropriate Comey letter.

In addition to all of that, we all now know that at least some in the Trump camp regularly communicated with the Russians as well, during this timeframe. Definitely about doing business, and quite likely also about collusion. The Mueller et al criminal investigation will provide more details in time.

Finally, let us all remember that Hillary garnered almost 3 MILLION more votes!

So to recap, there were numerous attempts by multiple entities to prevent her win, none of them fair, many illegal. She has a right to be angry. Why anyone takes exception to that is hard to fathom, particularly when it is a lifestyle choice for ill-prepared Trump.

Your premise

is pure fantasy and doesn't hold up in the real word. Identity politics is one of the main reasons Dems are losing outside of big metro areas of this country, but you continue to peddle it.

let us not forget, she was rejected by her own party the first time she ran for President, because she does not inspire.

Projection

The reality is that two thirds of the population of these United States lives in large metro areas.
That's why Clinton won the election in terms of receiving a clear majority of votes, which is not true of the last two Republican presidents.

yes we know that

but the point is you have to win the electoral college and the urban vote doesn't cut it.

Right

It's called 'gerrymandering'

And we all love it.

And we all love it.

Clinton's popular vote is

Clinton's popular vote is 100% attributed to California. Personally, I believe there were millions of illegal votes in the tally, but so long as they keep their data hidden, it can't be proven. In any case, it doesn't matter. California cast it's electoral votes for Clinton, and she lost.

The electoral system ensures all states have a say in who is elected. The system worked perfectly.

If you believe

that presidents are elected by states, not by citizens.
Citizens of California should have the same right to have their votes counted as citizens of Iowa.

You can't decry "identity

You can't decry "identity politics" at the same time you're trying gin up the "metro vs. rural" thing.

Identity politics ?

Such a kidder.

Seriously !?!

Identity politics is the very core of Trump's appeal.

It's what makes possible the Nazi and KKK to celebrate "blood and soil".

The decades old dog-whistle of GOP politics made audible.

White and male are identities also.

White and male grievances--that's the core of Trump's appeal.

So don't play with the words--Trump IS identity politics.

Why Buy the Book?

Look at the cover; the question and the answer are right there, both in 36 point Arial Black font - All CAPS.

Hard to Argue With That

I guess I won't need to wait for the Reader's Digest Condensed version (if those are still a thing).

Fresh?

There's nothing whatsoever "fresh" in Clinton's book. She simply doubles down on everything she's said before. I think one of the most revealing aspects of the book is actually it's title: "What Happened" without the a question mark. This title reflects an intractable notion that centrist neolliberal Democrats hold onto that no matter how wrong they are, or how bad or many times they lose or who they lost to... they retain their "expertise" and "authority". So now Clinton, who never even considered the possibility that she could lose, or was losing, is going to TELL us what happened.

We already know what happened. Democrats nominated the most unpopular and distrusted candidate they've ever put on a ballot. THAT candidate had no message other than "I'm not Trump" and vote for me and watch me be me in the White House. THAT candidate was hounded by unresolved controversies throughout the campaign as she has been throughout her entire adult political life. That candidate never established a convincing lead over THE most unpopular and distrusted train wreck in the history of American politics. That candidate won the popular vote and lost Electoral College, but struggles to explain why the most unpopular and distrusted Democratic candidate without a clear and compelling campaign message didn't have a much much much larger lead over Trump to begin with.

Here's something fresh

Must take issue with one of the best posters on this site. You know better than she " had no message other than "I'm not Trump". Mrs. Perfect she wasn't, far from it. But she campaigned on a reasonably liberal party platform which used to be something that voters were expected to know about without being force fed. More importantly she was the only small d democrat in the general election. Her opponent clearly expressed his distaste for our democratic institutions and norms. When France had this choice, twice, voters of all mainstream persuasions saw a need to line up with their values and swamped the undemocratic rival.

Not here. American voters had the ability to see a clear distinction on this vital issue, as did French voters. As we lament, far too many were oblivious to unrelenting demogoguery so we suffer the consequences. As a proud Sanders backer I disagree with Clinton's shot at Sanders. But some of his supporters let our country down in the end by staying home or voting for some Perfect candidate. Were they duped by Russian-fed propaganda? Were they caught up in their own ideals at the expense of the rest of us? It didn't take many Bernie Bros neglecting their civic duty to have been a contributing factor.

BTW kudos for having already read the book. Doubt if I will.

I'm disarmed by your compliment sir!

Well, mostly disarmed. I would simply point out that in basic terms Clinton's "platform" was liberal in a purely perfunctory sense. She actually campaigned on the declaration that basic New Deal liberalism and liberal agendas are unrealistic, and she continues to make that claim. The problem with "centrist" Democrats is they seem to have forgotten that the whole point of political parties in a democracy is make the best ideas possible, not declare them to be impossible.

Wrong candidate

There were lots of mistakes made, and lots of decisions were made that didn't turn out well. But I think we, the Democrats, lost the 2016 election, because we chose exactly the wrong candidate for the times, which happened largely because we didn't have a realistic opportunity to choose a better candidate. And that wasn't exactly Hillary's fault. She really owes no one an apology for who she was or what she represented, which includes many, many good things. The problem really was, that for a variety of reasons, our party was presented with two few viable alternatives. Unlike the Republicans, we were given too little opportunity to discover that our nominally leading candidate was in electoral terms, the Democratic equivalent of Jeb Bush, a candidate exclusively of the past. There is no doubt in my mind that if Hillary had had to run against an array of candidates, as Trump had to, her campaign would have not gotten anywhere. Our party just didn't have those contenders, with disastrous results for us and the country.

So she wrote a book

The notion that Hillary Clinton should just crawl away and hide is absurd. She won the popular vote and has just as much reason to give her opinion as anyone else.

Nobody tried to shame John McCain out of the Senate. Cripes, Mitt Romney is making noises about running for Senate next year. Al Gore made an Academy Award-winning movie. Hillary Clinton isn't intrinsically worse than any of those folks. If you don't care what she has to say or don't like what she has to say, fine, but don't escort her out the side door when others haven't been given that same treatment.

What Hillary should do

It's up to Hillary what she should do, but what she is doing merely reinforces her political relevance. She has reminded us, as if we needed any reminding, of her political cluelessness without bringing out what we she does have to offer, which is her policy chops.

McCain didn't write a book because he didn't want to be politically relevant. Sanders wrote a book to set forth a policy agenda for the future. Those were both valuable choice; Hillary as was her right, chose neither.

Her book

is just another example of establishment greed. She is so addicted to the spotlight she can't stay away. Her and Bill have made tens of millions of dollars through public "service".

She was a bad candidate who couldn't connect with average people. Go away already.

her side

It's a free country, and it's a good thing to have Hillary's version of things. But Hillary has a political tin ear, and a lot of what I have read and heard about her post activities pretty much reaffirm that. A lot of went wrong with Hillary's campaign was pretty much basic to who she is, and she was unable to get away from that. In terms of the specific tactical problems she faced, she had an extremely aggravating tendency to complain about them as opposed to coming up with an effective strategy for dealing with them. And her inability to do that is how her candidacy failed us.

The "FAILED CAMPAIGN" of H. C.

WOW! I agree with almost all the comments. Amazing.

Even with a campaigning, sympathetic press - she lost!

It is even more humorous, trying to keep track of ALL the self-professed reasons why she lost.

Please Hilary - do not go away! You are a constant reminder that a very flawed D.T. could beat you.

The next step is to get the press to attach the word "failed" to Hilary. I guess they only do that when Republicans lose.

Hillary was exceptionally qualified but politically

she was a very weak candidate. She won the nomination largely with states that she couldn't hope to carry in the general election. Her contest with Bernie provided the roadmap of the electoral real estate Trump needed to tip his way (He even gave Minnesota a shot based on Bernie's strength here!). Bernie's campaign provided a playbook that Trump partially co-opted and enhanced with a little old-fashioned populist fear-mongering. But it would be wrong to blame Bernie. The roadmap and playbook were available to the Democratic Party as well. They led with policy proposals instead.

All of the other items; emails, Comey, Bill, possible Russian hacking, despicables, etc. only matter because Hillary was such an electorally weak candidate to begin with. My takeaway for both parties?
Campaign with vision. Govern with policy. Don't mix them up.

It occurs to me

…that someone with more interest and a more analytical bent than my own could write a fair-sized textbook on misogyny based almost exclusively on Tim Smith’s oh-so-revealing comments.

I’m less interested in “What Happened” than I am in “How Can We Keep It From Happening Again?” Plenty has already been written about Hillary Clinton’s several flaws as a candidate, many of which were readily visible to grownups who were paying attention during the campaign.

Since no one else has so far said this, I will: none of Mrs. Clinton’s flaws, multiple though they might be, come close to matching the pathological character and fundamental dishonesty of the troll currently occupying the Oval Office on days he’s not playing golf at one of his resorts.

A listing of Clinton’s flaws, comforting though that might be to her detractors, does nothing to explain why an elderly male with both more and greater flaws than Hillary Clinton won the election. The country elected a sexual predator, someone so blatantly dishonest that even Republican media outlets have had to mention it a time or seven. Nothing in the Clinton record can match the character flaws of the old man now occupying the Oval Office. As has already been pointed out—to Trump’s ongoing dismay—Clinton collected 3 million more votes than the he did, so readers can dismiss much of the criticism of Clinton they’ve read in comments above as its own brand of “sour grapes.” The same right-wing propaganda machine that made the Clintons’ 8 years in the White House such a battle, mentioned in passing by L.K. Woodruff, was still around during the 2016 campaign (and IS still around even as we write). Much of the noise about Benghazi, Whitewater, emails, and a dozen other “scandals” that have proved (except in the fevered minds of some folks who like to call themselves “conservative”) themselves to be baseless is simply hostile nit-picking by people who ought to know better.

I’m sorry Clinton lost. Not because I loved her as a candidate, though, as Eric suggested in his piece, I hope I live long enough to see a woman win the White House. I’m sorry Clinton lost because her loss allowed a totally unqualified, infantile pretender to take power, and in doing so, made it possible for this to become a government by oligarchy to an even greater degree than was already the case before the election. I’m sorry Clinton lost because the winner is easily the most grotesque representative of the United States that has occupied the Oval Office since World War II.

Quite frankly, I like Noel Martinson’s final sentences very much, and I hope the powers-that-be in the Democratic hierarchy read them and take them to heart: Campaign with vision. Govern with policy. Don’t mix them up.

Double standards

"Since no one else has so far said this, I will: none of Mrs. Clinton’s flaws, multiple though they might be, come close to matching the pathological character and fundamental dishonesty of the troll currently occupying the Oval Office on days he’s not playing golf at one of his resorts."

We apply different if not multiple standards to different people. Trump was judged by different standards than Hillary. We can bemoan that, we can complain about that in hindsight, but politics is a bottom line business all about the ballots, and in the final analysis, it's about what they say, not why they say it. In 2016, we chose a candidate with a lot of baggage, something we didn't do in 2008. Whether that was a wise decision or not is for the historians to debate, but as a tactical political problem, we simply didn't have an effective political strategy that would address the flaws of our flawed candidate. That's on Hillary, but that's also on us, and going forward it's us who are still in the political arena, and it's us who matter going forward.

After 8 years of identity politics

with Obama and his 2 major achievements being Obamacare along with Iranian nuke deal no Democrat was going to win. Trump was a terrible messenger but the message of helping middle class (totally forgotten by Obama), fixing public schools (especially inner city), fixing tax code, lowering corporate tax, repealing ACA were all winning messages. What was Hillary's message?? I'm with her??

Winning Messages?

If "repealing the ACA" was such a winning message, why did that effort fail in Congress when it was tried? Are members of Congress that out of touch with their constituents?

Do you really think the great mass of people, especially the "totally forgotten" middle class, wants to lower the corporate tax rate? If so, why do they lie to the pollsters when asked if corporations pay their fair share of taxes?

Why is talking about the "middle class," and building resentment about their being "forgotten" not an example of identity politics?

Attaching congress and what the people want

are two completely different things. Embarrassing for GOP not to have 3-4 plans in place to dismantle that disaster known as Obamacare. For the majority of middle class folks, who actually pay for their insurance, Obamacare is crushing. That is why they voted for Trump. For the millions who get their health insurance free from Obamacare and expansion of Medicaid, I would bet they didn't vote for him. The GOP did not serve the folks who voted Trump in. It was a "winning message" because he won!!!

The Majority

Are you saying Congress doesn't know what constituents want?

" For the majority of middle class folks, who actually pay for their insurance, Obamacare is crushing." Actually, 49% of Americans have employer sponsored coverage, and 14% have Medicare.

"For the millions who get their health insurance free from Obamacare and expansion of Medicaid, I would bet they didn't vote for him." Obamacare isn't free, but premiums are subsidized. Anyway, it it is a free ride, how would it be "killing" them?

"The GOP did not serve the folks who voted Trump in." You mean, the 46% of people who voted, who make up around 20% of the total population?

"It was a "winning message" because he won!!!" Is that why the Republicans have embraced his policies so half-heartedly? Devotion to a President with history-making negative ratings in the polls is they key to victory?

He won because of a quirk in our electoral system. Yes, he still won, but that doesn't mean he or anything he stands for are particularly popular.

Trump is identity

Trump is identity politics.

No substance, no policies, no competence--it was all identity politics.

"Our" America against the "others".

MAGA

It's how a policy will-o-the-wisp is retaining the hearts and minds of a portion of the population.

MAGA=identity politics

"Make American great again," just like when America was run by white men, and every one else knew their place.

Can't be more explicit than that.

Although I strongly favored

Although I strongly favored Bernie in the primary season (and I am no "bro," nor were my other middle-aged women friends who supported him), I voted for Hillary, although I disliked her air of entitlement and her supporters' feelings that no one had the right to run against her.

But that's the past, and the continued in-fighting between the Bernie and Hillary camps is unnerving.

Yo, Democrats, in a little more than a year, all of the House and 1/3 of the Senate is up for re-election. That is ALL the Dems should be focusing on right now. The Hllary-Bernie tiff is a distraction, and one that we should not be distracted by. They need to find challengers, even sacrificial lambs, in every state and in every Congressional district.

It's worth noting that Paul Ryan's district went heavily for Hillary and yet returned him to Congress. I'd love to see his cynical, heartless policies defeated in 2018.

If the Dems can't gain seats in Congress with the most unpopular president (despite his devoted cult) in U.S. history, they may as well put the furniture in storage, have the utilities disconnected, and go the way of the Whigs to make way for a party that can get things done.

Like you, I strongly supported Sanders in the primary,

and voted without hesitation for Clinton in the general as obviously a thousand times less destructive of the possibility of democracy than Trump. I don’t favor Clinton, not because of the purported scandals, dishonesty and so forth that are the pure unbridled fever dreams of the Right and the mainstream media, but because, like Obama and the rest of the Democratic establishment, she is a center-Right corporatist who, for that reason, necessarily stands in the way of the only path toward a more decent society.

Two quotes cited in the above article from her book precisely highlight the problem.

First, “I’ve always believed that it’s dangerous to make big promises if you have no idea how you’re going to keep them. When you don’t deliver, it will make people even more cynical about government." This is profound condescension. The majority of Americans aren’t expecting unicorns, they’re expecting leaders to describe a vision toward a stronger and better society, and then to bring other leaders and ordinary folks together to work toward that vision in a necessarily gradual but committed way. Mr. Udstrand, in particular, has stated repeatedly and eloquently how defeating Clinton's understanding is for the long-term political success of the Democratic party.

Second, “When people are angry and looking for someone to blame, they don’t want to hear your 10-point plan to create jobs and raise wages." Clinton, by intent or not, here is saying that there isn’t someone to blame for the long-marked and accelerating depletion of our collective economic and social capital. This is quite convenient for those who in fact are to blame, namely the concentrated wealth whose interests the Democratic establishment, like the Republican establishment, exists to serve. Since the retrenchment of capital in the 1970’s, the Democratic establishment has disabled itself from pursuing an agenda that would meaningfully serve the common interest in an economically and environmentally sustainable society, and that would have assured Democratic governance for decades, simply because to do so necessarily would intrude on the prerogatives of concentrated wealth. Instead, the Democratic party has sought to maintain its base with a weak broth of social legislation and limited redistributionism, and has ceded the field of populism to 50 years of Republican authoritarianism masquerading as populism that has rested on a succession of false enemies to stand in for those whom the establishment of both parties may not name.

The Republican establishment must bear its culpability for a program that over half a century, for electoral advantage, has suppressed democracy and nurtured authoritarianism and its counterpart, the atavism of the citizenry, at every turn. But the fact remains that Democratic corporatism, as exemplified by both Clintons, is just as responsible for the vacuum of real populism that allowed the authoritarian impulse to metastasize and that resulted in Clinton’s electoral defeat to a man who embodies every worst impulse of humanity.

So I fear that the in-fighting cannot be over, because a dramatic reorientation of the Democratic party is a necessity. Without at least one of the two major parties supporting democratic goals, regardless of how soon we are rid of Trump, it is hard to see how our society can survive without descending into a battle of all against all.

I have to take issue with one of Clinton's main narratives

I'm gonna run the risk of being accused of mansplaining here but I really have to take issue with the Clinton's narrative about feminism and sexism.

Sexism is a ubiquitous feature of American culture. Everyone woman in American has to contend with sexism on a regular or at least a semi-regular basis in a variety of forms from assault and outright discrimination to micro-agressions. So any woman who runs for office, or president, will have to contend with sexist attitudes.

Sure, Clinton didn't get to be president, in terms of Glass Ceiling Feminism that's a disappointment. But the idea that as goes Hillary so goes gender equality or feminism is simply egocentric. Hillary Clinton is an extremely wealthy and powerful woman. She's held some of the most positions available in the American Government. She's been a Senator and a two-time presidential candidate. She got the nomination. She WON the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Frankly the suggestion that Hillary Clinton is the biggest victim of sexism or gender inequality in America is almost obscene. Tell that to woman who have to travel hundreds of miles to get abortion services. Tell that to women who have to perform sex acts in sweat shops and hotel rooms just to keep their minimum wage jobs.

The United States ranks 45th on the Global Gender Gap Index. 45th. We rank BELOW Nicaragua, Mozambique, and Bulgaria. The problem with Glass Ceiling Feminism is that despite growing numbers of celebrity women like: Oprah, Madeleine Albright, Martha Stewart, and Clinton, hundreds of millions of women have been left behind to contend with INCREASING levels of gender inequality. Abortions services are less accessible and more restricted not than they were 30 years ago.

So, two things: First, a woman just got more votes for president than any other candidate on the ballot. While that didn't get a woman into the White House, and it's clearly a body-blow for Clinton, it's NOT a body blow ALL women or feminism in general. It's clear that this country is ready to elect a women for president, that woman just wasn't Hillary Clinton. Clinton shattered the glass ceiling, she just didn't win the election. Treating Clinton's personal defeat as a defeat for ALL women is self indulgent and counterproductive. Second, while Clinton's election would have had considerable symbolic potential, it's facile to suggest that it would have changed daily circumstances for millions of ordinary woman in the United States. Clinton's election would no more have ended gender inequality than Obama's election ended racial inequality.

Isn't it a little grandiose for Clinton to assume that her personal victory would have been a victory for ALL women, and conversely her defeat was a defeat for ALL women? By focusing on her defeat rather than her accomplishment isn't she giving more credit to sexist than they deserve?

Paul, I assume from your

Paul, I assume from your lengthy post on what Hillary Clinton thinks about misogyny, sexism, women in politics and business leadership, that you have actually READ her book's chapter on that topic?

Strange, that you don't quote her.

Too many Americans vote from their gut, rather than from their brain. That's why we have Trump as President--people thought he was a hoot and would "disrupt" Washington, whereas Clinton was a drag with all her policy talk.

Given that gut-over-brain tendency we have in voting, I have a theory: Hillary Clinton would have won the presidency in 2016 if she had not been so nice, so well-bred, so polite and so self-restrained while she was being physically stalked by Trump on the stage of the second presidential debate. (Everybody perceived the stalking; check out Alec Baldwin in SNL's skit that satirizes his tactic).

In her book she relates what her feelings and thoughts were as Trump persistently invaded her space on that stage, looming over her, too close: She wanted to say that she recognized his attempt to intimidate her as he regularly did, to women especially, but that she wouldn't be intimidated.

Just think, if she had actually said these words that went through her mind: "Back up, you creep"!

On national TV. Revealing that she shared the gut feeling we all did in that moment.

But, being Hillary (who else could she be?), she controlled her reaction and simply ignored him.

That's why she lost. My theory.

Constance...

Yes, I read that chapter, and you could fill a phone book, literally, with the names of all the people I haven't quoted. However, my comment has nothing to do with Clinton's "thinking", or the text of her book, people can read that for themselves if they want to. My comment is responding to the subtext and general narrative of Clinton's claim that sexism was a significant cause for her defeat.

Accomplishments ?

"Too many Americans vote from their gut, rather than from their brain. " - So true.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/09/carly-fiorina-debate-hill...

Everybody gets dealt in hand

Everybody gets dealt in hand in worse, some better, some worse and it all depends on how you play it. The hand Hillary got, on the whole, was not too bad; better than her husband's certainly. Hillary ran for president at a time when sexism is still active in our society. As regrettable as that is, it is a fact of our politics. For Hillary that means it was an obstacle that required a strategy to overcome. Other women politicians have found a way to do that. Britain, as traditional society as there is, has had two woman prime ministers. Germany has been led by a woman for 12 years. For an article on the status of women generally in German society, see today's New York Times. It's basically, not a pretty story. Those women found a way to overcome prejudice, where Hillary did not. Why Hillary couldn't succeed, ans what other women must do to avoid her fate is one of the questions worth asking going forward.

As a very small time political activist, one of the things I believe because I am frequently reminded of it, is that no one owes me nuthin' and that's especially true of their votes.If I want people to give me the precious asset that is indisputably theirs, it's my job to meet their concerns, not their job to meet mine. I am not in line, and it is never, never my turn. Over and over again, I had a sense that Hillary didn't feel that, rather that she felt that because she was better than the other candidate, somehow voters owed her their vote. And that's just not true.

Actually, Hillary Clinton has

Actually, Hillary Clinton has addressed the issue of why there have been women in the top political role in England and Germany. It has to do with the parliamentary system, whereby one rises through the party and wins collegial respect based on one's work on issues and in different governmental roles (Hillary C. has lots of that political 'street cred').

But when elections come around, a Margaret Thatcher or the current British PM, or Angela Merkel in Germany, only has to win the vote in their own, tiny electoral district. NOT the entire country. Their party has already chosen them to lead the country if they win their own district.

And in the U.S., the candidate has to win not only in the entire country but in the voter-weight distorting Electoral College.

Not comparable, as systems.

As I recommend to all those who prefer to opine from the brain and not the gut: read her book.

Another excuse

"when elections come around, a Margaret Thatcher or the current British PM, or Angela Merkel in Germany, only has to win the vote in their own, tiny electoral district." - In a parliamentary system that is true. However when elections come around everyone votes for the party and who leads it into the elections. For example in the current German elections you vote your local Parliamentary seat based on your feelings about Merkel. When she ran in 2005, Merkel was projected as leader of the party. By the time she was chosen by the party she had spent years digging the trenches of her party.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/15/i-will-eat-my-hat-if-merke...

Twice, Mrs Clinton ran campaigns and was outfoxed by lesser funded campaigns. The first time, when her campaign, despite having all to the so so sophisticates around her. did not understand (until too late) that Barack was end running around her using the caucus process. And the second time, she ran against an openly unpleasant characterless person who focussed , correctly, on a few states and beat her. All her billions in campaign dollars and her vaaaaaaaaaaaaaast experience ?, all for naught.

The "owed" vote and why she ran

Clinton spends an entire chapter discussing why she ran, and frankly, even now she seems to have a surprisingly difficult time answering the question. She's all over the map with tangential observations, anecdotes, and a variety of complaints, but in the end we get a whimper not a bang.

Essentially all Clinton can say is: "I ran for President because I thought I'd be good at the job. I though that of all the people who might run, I had the most relevant experience, meaningful accomplishments, and ambitious but achievable proposals, as well as the temperament to get things done in Washington".

You see the problem? And this was her problem throughout the campaign: This the exact same reason everyone who runs for president runs for president. Later she admits that she also thought she'd win, in fact it's clear throughout the book that once she made the decision to run, it never occurred to her (or her supporters) that she might not win the nomination or the general election.

Show me the candidate who doesn't think they'd be good at the job, or has the experience, accomplishments, achievable proposals, or temperament to get things done in Washington.

The thing about this chapter in Clinton's book is that she seems to realize on some level that her "reason" for running isn't sufficient, so she writes pages and pages of other stuff, but it's just padding that brings us back to the original reason. Clinton even complains that she was required to provide a reason at all, she doesn't think other candidates have to do that (One of her many allusions to sexism). Of course this is nonsense, EVERY candidate has to explain why they want to be president, Clinton was no exception in that regard. Oddly, Clinton doesn't seem to understand the question.

The question: "Why do you want to be president?"or: " Why are you running for President", isn't really personal question, and most candidates seem to understand that. When voters, debate moderators, and interviewers ask that question (And they DID ask everyone that question), what they really want to know is: "What are you going to do as President if you get elected?". So, Trump's answer was: "I'll make America great again!". Sanders's answer was: "I'll start a revolution and make the government work for the people instead of Wall Street!".

Even now Clinton's attempt to answer that question (In this chapter) doesn't contain a single concrete example anything she wanted to do. She says she got excited talking to people about all the things she could do, and the problems she would "take on", but in the end, she doesn't go beyond the assumption that she was the most qualified and experienced candidate, which is just another way of saying: "Vote for me and I'll be me in the White House". For Hillary supporters, watching Hillary be Hillary in the White House in and of itself would have been a dream come true. The problem is the majority of the rest of the voters didn't like and didn't trust Hillary Clinton, so watching her be her in the White House wasn't a compelling reason to support her. Making the campaign about either being: "With Her" or for: "Making America Great" was gambit that didn't pay off.

The truth

The reason why people want to be president is that they are power mad narcissists who have visions of seeing their image on Mount Rushmore. But somehow, there is a sense that that view doesn't play well with voters.

The question

"Why am I running?" is a notoriously difficult to answer. Whole presidential campaigns have come to grief on it, and it was a significant plot point in a West Wing episode. It's one of those situations where the real answer isn't flattering, and the flattering answer isn't very real.

Yeah, I don't buy that

I can see why TV script writers might have trouble with that question but successful politicians don't seem to have THAT much difficulty. The question itself is basically a blank slate to say anything you want, there's no "wrong" answer just answers that captivate voters more or less.

You ask the question and the candidates responds: "I'm glad you asked that question Hiram..." and you fill in the blank. For Al Franken it's: "I was the luckiest guy in the world because I grew up in middle class America and I want everyone to share that stroke luck the way I did". For Trump it was: "I'll be the president that puts America and Americans first". Whatever... it's not THAT hard for talented candidates.

Part of the problem is that Clinton didn't actually try to answer the question herself. If you read on about the way she organized her campaign you find that she basically relied on others to answer the question for her. Her own account here aligns with those portrayed in the book: "Shattered" which was an account of her campaign based on interviews with her campaign staff. Rather than building a campaign around the candidates own motivations they ended up trying to build a campaign around "data", a fact that Clinton actually brags about in her book. The problem is they couldn't make THAT campaign look sincere, and however you explain why you want to president, the explanation needs to look sincere.

I can see why TV script

I can see why TV script writers might have trouble with that question but successful politicians don't seem to have THAT much difficulty

Teddy Kennedy famously came to grief when Roger Mudd asked the question.

Hillary has a problem with her prose, but that speaks to a more general problem she has a politician. If you boil her answer down, it amounts to "There are great things that need doing, and I am the best person to do them." It's just that you have to sort through a lot of defensive verbiage to get to that.

Ted Kennedy?

"There are great things that need doing, and I am the best person to do them."

Well, THAT answer is about as compelling as piece of dry toast, but frankly I don't even think Clinton provided THAT answer. Based on Clinton's own verbiage, from the quote above, Clinton's "answer" boiled down to: "There are 'realistic' modifications and adjustments to be made, and I'm the best person to do that". Clinton put "Great Things" squarely in the realm of the "unrealistic" for a variety of reasons. For Clinton, great things were pipe dreams, and they still are. For Clinton, the greatest thing she could accomplish was simply getting herself elected, that's not just Clinton, that the essence of identity politics, and THAT was Clinton's problem.

Well, it was John Kennedy, I

Well, it was John Kennedy, I think, when asked why he wanted to be president said, "the pay is good, and the office is close to home."