Well, Hillary’s book is out, and the critics are all over it…hating the book, hating Hillary, telling Hillary to go away already. This critique was not leveled at Bernie Sanders when he wrote his book after losing the primary. It was not leveled at Al Gore after winning the votes but losing the election (in fact, Al Gore has made two movies since the 2000 debacle). Michelle and Barack Obama have both signed large contracts for books. Bill Clinton wrote a book about his experience in the presidency. While these books were not loved by all (but by some, of course), there was no almost unanimous outcry that these major players on the political scene should just sit down and shut up. What’s the difference? The difference is Hillary.
To accept Hillary’s description of the events of 2016, most of them pretty common knowledge, is to accept something most people do not wish to accept. The country is messed up. It is easier to see Hillary, one of the most qualified candidates in my lifetime, as a weak candidate. It is easier to see Hillary, who ran a competent campaign with grace and dignity, as having run a poor campaign. It is not easy to see the American people as complicit in the election of Donald J. Trump, the single most UNqualified candidate in my lifetime (or anyone else’s). It is not easy for the press to see how their eager race for ratings elevated the Donald from the minor celebrity of a TV reality show and a real-estate business into the single most powerful figure in the world. It is not easy to recognize the racism, sexism, and sheer hatred that decided this election. And it is certainly not easy to lay the true blame where it belongs – the electoral college, which has now delivered two losing candidates into the White House in the course of less than two decades. So it must be Hillary.
But what does it mean for her to have run a weak campaign? She laid out her policies clearly and articulated them well. She explained her position on most topics, even though sometimes it was a bit more centrist than many progressives would like (but aren’t we always being informed by these same pundits that centrist is exactly what the public wants? Show me a centrist, and I can guarantee it will not be Donald J. Trump). She smiled when she didn’t want to smile. She fielded hostile questions and endured stalking by the other candidate during a televised debate. She lived through months of “lock her up” and “trump the bitch” with only one minor outburst, the “basket of deplorables” comment for which she paid dearly. This is just another example of the truism that people do not want to hear the truth.
Rather than evaluate this election as what it was, a clear demonstration of the deep, abiding political divides between large swaths of Americans and the people who loathe them, an expose of seething bigotry, and a triumph of anti-intellectualism, the pundits would rather blame Hillary. Because, well, she’s Hillary. She has always been Hillary. Twenty-five years of shimmering hatred, and it seems to make people angry that she has not collapsed under the pressure. She still faces each day with grace and dignity, and refuses to sit down and shut up – or go back to the kitchen, which is the real message being shouted from every rooftop.
I have not yet read Hillary’s book, but I am on my way to get it today, in spite of having never read a book written by a politician about their own political careers ever before. And all I can say is, Hillary, please do not go away.