A lot of opinion leaders in the media have complained that What Happened should never have been written. Of course, if they did their jobs with any integrity in the first place, it would not need to be written because the competent person would have won the election. What Happened is Hillary Rodham Clinton’s memoir of loss and bewilderment and her attempt to make sense of the atrocity of the 2016 election. Throughout the book, Clinton owns mistakes she made and sometimes owns mistakes she did not make, not challenging the Wednesday morning quarterbacks whose analysis always led to prescriptions that agreed with their long-held predisposition.
Clinton is recognizable to so many women as the hard-working grind that does so much work for so little credit. She is all the competent and credentialed hardworking women upstaged by the schmoozing schmucks whose only credentials are their genitalia. We know this story, we have seen it happen hundreds of times, but this time it hurt because we dared to believe that for once, competence would not lose to a personality cult. We were wrong, but not really. Competence won the most votes and the incompetent bigot only won with extraordinary interventions and assistance.
Clinton discusses James Comey’s indefensible letter in late October. There is no reasonable analysis that shows Trump winning without that nauseating act. Comey claimed he felt nauseated that his action may have influenced the election, but that is self-serving double talk. He could puke his guts out until his teeth rot and his jaw disintegrates and it would not compensate for the damage done. He acted unilaterally, against all policies and traditions of government, and he knew what he was doing when he sent a letter to Jason Chaffetz, one the dozens of Javerts who have been trying to find one single thing Clinton has done that is illegal for some thirty years. It is useful to remember that Comey himself was one of those Javerts, investigating Hillary during her husband’s administration. This was a small man’s revenge for his failure.
Here’s the thing. Hillary Clinton has been investigated by hundreds of federal and state investigators who have known that their career would be made if they could bring her down. There have been dozens of congressional investigations by rabid partisans whose hold on power was based in part on their ability to find some crime. Despite all that, they failed to find anything. Any rational person would see that and conclude Hillary Clinton was fundamentally honest. Instead, many people, including people who should know better, saw all the smoke from the many fires set by partisans and concluded there must be something there. There was – a decade’s long character assassination that irrational, unthinking, illogical people fell for. Clinton is more empathetic to the fools who believed those lies than I am. It requires a deliberate choice to ignore evidence and fact to believe that with so many highly motivated and partisan investigations that failure to find evidence of corruption was somehow a sign of corruption.
Clinton considers the many factors that influenced the outcome of the election. She emphasizes the effects of Comey’s stabbing democracy in the heart, Russian poisoning the media and social media, and Republicans undermining the right to vote. She also looks at her own failings, most of which can be easily summed up with the simple fact she is female. She also considers the false choice that Sanders is pushing on the Democratic party–his opportunistic suggestion that Clinton failed to connect with the white working class and the Democrats need to drop identity politics. He is wrong, he is pushing the party to the right on abortion rights, civil rights, and human rights and Clinton is right to challenge him and name his prescription as a false choice. She points out that she had a strong economic message, but it was ignored by a media perhaps best exemplified by the embarrassing example of failing upward, Chris Cillizza, who ran more than fifty stories about her emails by the end of 2015 and yet continues to think he did nothing wrong. It’s no surprise he is among those who think Clinton should slink away in shame and shut up the fuck up (as more than one headline demanded) because he certainly does not want to spend two minutes thinking about his role in electing Trump.
We need this book. Unfortunately, the people who most need to read it won’t. I am sure Chris Cillizza looked for his name in the index and read one paragraph and will still share his opinion as though he read the entire book for the rest of his miserable life. My family who voted for Trump won’t read it because they don’t want to know or recognize the fundamental decency of Hillary Clinton. They need to cling to the monster they created because only that monster can excuse their vote for the filth who sits in the Oval Office today.
This is a hard book to read. I could only read one chapter at a time and needed a break. The contrast between the competent and brilliant woman who won the popular vote and the ignorant and belligerent thug who won the electoral college is too stark. It is painful to read about her policy ideas and contrast them to Trump’s inhumane, racist, and anti-women policies and his vicious neglect of Puerto Rico. This is not the usual contrast between Democrats and Republicans, this is the difference between decency and indecency.
There is too much regret. I was one of those people who mainly expressed my support for Clinton in a secret Facebook group. When friends of mine on the left were sharing stories that were obviously false and I investigated the source and discovered it was a site in Macedonia run by Serbs, I knew in July that there were fake news stories originating from Russia. I pointed that out to these “bros” and only infuriated them more. They were so committed to hating her that post-convention they still could not recognize the lies. This election has been a vicious reminder that women are still third class citizens, without constitutionally guaranteed rights beyond suffrage, only statutory ones, and that a lot of men and even some women want to keep it that way.
- What Happened at Simon & Schuster
- Hillary Clinton author site