HRC: Idealism and Realism – by Amanda S. Green
Here’s a hint: these don’t mean the same thing for Hillary Clinton as they do for most of the rest of us.
When I started reviewing this book, I did it as a lark. Sarah and I had discussed whether or not one of us should do it and, somehow, we decided it should be me. I expected the book to be a dissection of the election season, biased to be true, but I thought I’d be reading about the time from when Clinton declared her candidacy to when she faced defeat on Election Night. Sure, I knew there would be a few forays into her past, especially her political past since that impacted the election. What I got bears little resemblance to expectations.
For the most part, I’ve reviewed one chapter at a time. Last week’s post covered two chapters. I thought that would be a one-off because of the subject of that part of the book. Nope. I was wrong. I cover two chapters this time as well. Why? Because so much of it is a repeat of what HRC already said. The stories might not be the same but the lead-in to them is as is the import. Yes, we know she started out as an advocate and activist. Yes, we know she cares deeply (her words) about women’s issues, health care issues, civil rights, children. She has made that perfectly clear in the first 200 pages of the book.
So why is she hitting these points so hard, time and time and time again? More to the point, why is she doing so in a book that is supposed to tell us what happened in the election season? I don’t know the answer, but I have my suspicion. That suspicion grew stronger as I read these two chapters. As I said before (I think it was in last week’s post), much of this book reads like her primer for running again for President.
Heaven help us.
One of the most persistent challenges I faced as a candidate was being perceived as a defender of the status quo, while my opponents in the primaries and the general election seized the sought-after mantle of “change”. The same thing happened to me in 2008. I never could figure out how to shake it. (Pg.195)
Earlier, HRC whined – er, complained — about how the voting public perceived her and how she couldn’t understand it. Once again, she does so. The fact there were voters more than willing to discuss the issue with her didn’t matter. She had her own mantle she proudly proclaims, that of advocate and activist. She pulls out her history of working for women’s rights, etc. Her basic message is simple: “How dare we not view her the way she views herself?”
Change might be the most powerful word in American politics. (And probably the most misused and tired word after 2008 – ASG) That’s part of what makes America great. But we don’t always spend enough time thinking about what it takes to actually make the change we seek. Change is hard. That’s one reason we’re sometimes taken in by leaders who make it sound easy but don’t have any idea how to get anything done. (pg. 195)
That is probably the only thing she’s said so far in the book I agree with. Of course, we’d disagree – strongly – on who and how to apply this to. I, and so many others, said it when Obama used “Change” as his keyword when he ran for President. I said it years ago when Bill Clinton ran, not to mention good ole Jimmy Carter.
In 1992 and 2008, change meant electing dynamic young leaders who promised hope and renewal. In 2016, it meant handing a lit match to a pyromaniac. (pg 195)
What HRC doesn’t take into consideration is that what she sees as needed “change” isn’t what a large number of the voting public thought was needed. She doesn’t get that her proposed policies alienate so many who actually go to the polls on election day. She has spent so many years in Washington DC and New York that she forgot what middle America held dear.
Of course, she tries to prove her case as the “candidate of change and understanding” by recounting how she supported many of the BLM leaders and their cause. “I respected how effectively their movement grabbed hold of the national debate. . . and I was honored when they endorsed me for President. But I was concerned when other activists [within the movement] proved more interested in disruption and confrontation than in working together to change policies that perpetuate systemic racism.” (pg 201)
Yes, there are issues regarding race and law enforcement that need to be addressed. However, it bothers me when someone who claims to be such a concerned activists limits those reforms to one group or segment of our society. Still, HRC showed her own willingness to walk back from her stance that “it was time for public officials – and all Americans really – to stop tiptoeing around the brutal role that racism has played in our history and continues to play in our politics.” (pg 201) She does so very quickly when she recounts an encounter she had with several BLM supporters who came to see her speak one day.
You see, these folks did the unspeakable. They attacked one of Bill’s law enforcement bills while he was President. Instead of coming out and just saying they were right and the bill was flawed, she characterizes their condemnation of it as “oversimplified beyond recognition.” A number of paragraphs later, she finally admits not only that the bill was flawed but that it actually made the problem it sought to solve worse. Why she couldn’t just say that, I don’t know – except it was an attack on something that had the Clinton name associated with it.
As you can see, this chapter follows the same pattern as the previous several chapters. We hear about her as the activist and advocate. We see her meeting with those who need the system to “change”. But where do we hear about the campaign and the other candidates (except for her taking another swipe at Trump)? That’s simple: she finally gets to it on page 211, twelve pages into the chapter. That’s when she begins writing about the water problem in Flint, MI and one of the debates. This is when HRC finally showed some passion and her team was thrilled.
For months, we had been losing the “outrage primary”. Bernie was outraged about everything. He thundered on at every event about the sins of “the millionaires and billionaires.” I was more focused on offering practical solutions that would address real problems and make life better for people.” (pp 211-212)
In other words, she was boring while Bernie excited people. Sound familiar? But that’s about all. She was angry about the situation and her team was excited. That’s a perfect point where she could discuss how to use that to benefit her campaign – or discuss why she chose not to, right? Instead, we get another page plus of her walking down memory lane about a town hall meeting in New Hampshire in 2015 and Kids like Jaylon, the Children’s Defense Fund. Disjointed and incomplete, much like her campaign.
Now to “Sweating the Details”. HRC was excited to take part in the “Commander in Chief Forum” on the USS Intrepid, September 7, 2016. Sponsored by NBC and moderated by Matt Lauer (stop snickering), this wasn’t going to be a debate. Each candidate would be given half an hour to speak and answer questions. The other candidate would not be onstage at the time. Trump won the coin toss and chose to go last. That left good ole Hillary to face Lauer first. “I was confident that with a real focus on substance and a clear contrast of our records, Americans would see that I was ready to be Commander in Chief, and Donald Trump was dangerously unprepared.” (pg 218)
Lauer led off by asking HRC to discuss the most important characteristic the Commander in Chief can possess. Okay, am I the only one who could see where this was going before HRC answered? The problem is HRC didn’t see it. Instead, she left herself wide open to what would follow by discussing steadiness. Even when Lauer clarified her answer by saying “You’re talking about judgment,” she didn’t see what was about to happen. It was only when she saw his expression that she thought he might be about to ask or say something she wasn’t expecting.
Yep, you got it. E-mails.
It was disappointing but predictable that he had so quickly steered the supposedly high-minded “Commander in Chief Forum” to the subject of emails, months after the director of the FBI had announced there was no case and closed the investigation. (page 219) And therein lies part of the problem with HRC. She still doesn’t understand that the emails and her private server presented a problem for the American public. She didn’t get that we saw it as a security issue, no matter what the FBI director said. We saw it as a trust issue – remember all those erased emails? How many people remembered the erased Nixon tapes and wondered what HRC was trying to hide?
This was her chance to answer some of those concerns. Instead, by her own words, she “launched into my standard answer on the emails, one I’d given a thousand times before.” (page 220) She couldn’t be bothered to take a moment to respond to Lauer about it and that would soon bite her in the ass, something she really did not appreciate (and something she makes clear in the book).
Lauer turned to a question from one of the veterans NBC had picked to be in the audience. He was a self-described Republican, a former Navy lieutenant who had served in the first Gulf War, and he promptly repeated the right-wing talking point about how my email use would have landed anyone else in prison. Then he asked how he could trust me as President “when you clearly corrupted our national security?”
Now I was ticked off. (pp 220-221)
The lack of respect for a veteran fairly drips from the page. First, note what was more important to HRC – the fact he was a “self-described Republican”. I don’t remember whether he said that at the time he asked the question or if this is something her team dug up later. But that was more important that the fact he served in the Navy, was in the first Gulf War or anything else. She also left me with the feeling that she would have been happier if there had been no Republicans in the audience, much less allowed to ask her questions. Really open minded, isn’t she?
Then we are treated to a page or more about how Lauer was mean to her. He asked four follow-up questions about her emails. He didn’t ask a “policy” question until the end of her time and then didn’t give her time to really respond. She mourns the fact she hadn’t “pushed back hard on his question.” My question is simple. Why didn’t she? This is the same sort of excuse she’s made before in the book. She could have pushed back when Trump “invaded her space”. She could have pushed back now. But she didn’t. Why? And why should we want a Commander in Chief who won’t stand up for herself – or himself?
The telling statement comes after she spends more time complaining about how Lauer didn’t go after Trump the way he did her. “Sadly, though, millions of people watched.” (page 222) Wait, what? She would have preferred those millions of people not to watch, not to try to become informed on the issues and on the candidates they would soon be voting for or against? How much does it say about HRC that she would have preferred her less than stellar performance not to be seen?
There’s another swipe at Bernie – note the theme. It is never her fault.
No matter how bold and progressive my policy proposals were – and they were significantly bolder and more progressive than anything President Obama or I had proposed in 2008 – Bernie would come out with something even bigger, loftier, and leftier, regardless of whether it was realistic or not. That left me to play the unenviable role of spoilsport schoolmarm, pointing out that there was no way Bernie could keep his promises or deliver real results. (pp226-227) In other words, it was Bernie’s fault for playing her game better than she did. Riiight. There’s more, including the allegation that he’d promised not to make personal attacks and failed to carry through with that promise.
Now, remember back at the beginning of the post when I said I had my suspicions about why HRC really wrote the book? The last nine pages or so of the chapter deal almost exclusively with what HRC would have done in the first 100 days of her presidency as opposed to what Trump did. It reads like a campaign speech. It even includes digs at Trump’s appointments. But, above all that, it reads like a politician practicing her speech before going on the campaign trail.
One thing has become perfectly clear as I read this book. No, not that HRC is still bitter and angry that we weren’t smart enough to elect her President. No, it’s not that she isn’t smart enough to take the lessons she should have learned when she lost the nomination to Obama and applied it to the last election. It is that she lives in her own world of reality in which she is the star, the center of the universe. It is that she expects the world to mold itself to fit her sense of reality instead of taking the hard look at herself and asking the hard questions.
And, with the next chapter entitled “Making History”, I have no hope of that changing.
(You can find the other installments in this series at the following links: What Happened or How I Suffered for this Blog and had to Share, Grit and Gratitude, HRC Gets Caught Trying, A New Deal, A Square Deal or How She Wanted to be the Next Roosevelt, It’s All His Fault, and Turning Mourning into a Movement.)
[I know this is hard to watch, imagine what it must be like to read the book. If you want to help finance Amanda’s liquor bill, use this address Send the woman a drink-SAH]