Hillary Clinton’s new book is out today. It is her verdict on the 2016 election. It is her attempt to tell her side of the most talked about election in history. Her post game analysis. Her story.
I have bought my copy – it arrives tomorrow – and judging by the sneak previews given to media outlets it is going to be a great read – more so it has to be said then her last big book “Hard Choices” which was frankly a snoozeathon from start to finish. It is hard to imagine that anyone could write about the 2016 epic and not make it a page turner. Fingers crossed.
As with everything that Secretary Clinton does, the book is dividing opinion and stirring up debate. She should retire gracefully. Time to go quietly. She should give it up. She should run again. She should speak out. It is the usual Clinton fayre – hardly anyone is ambivalent about her and her legacy. Some see the book as an attempt to blame not analyse. Some are blaming her tepid campaign; others James Comey; the overblown “email scandal”; sexism in opposing her; racism in supporting Trump; a post-truth, post-Brexit world of populism; and so it goes on and on.
It is telling that Secretary Clinton choose no punctuation at the end of her title – she clearly believes that her version of events is the verdict, the final word. No question mark. No doubt. The full stop. The period. As the last few days have shown us, there is no such thing in politics. Here’s my cent’s worth and what I think happened.
- Secretary Clinton ran a bog-standard, dull, safe but reasonably textbook campaign. Yes should could have spent more time in Wisconsin or other states that unexpectedly went for Trump but until the final few days she was well ahead in the polls and had ran a disciplined, focused and professional campaign.
- Donald Trump ran a messy, disorganised, ugly campaign, filled with hateful rhetoric, lies and deceptions (do I need to give examples…..lock her up, drain the swamp and the like) – but boring it was not. It was box office and fired up the republican base and enough people who weren’t sure about Secretary Clinton to at least consider not voting for her if not voting for him. It captured the media day after day after day. Propelling his message to TV screens and phones all over the country via cable news and social media.
- The polls had narrowed but were still showing around a 6% lead for Secretary Clinton just before the James Comey letter landed – his intervention shifted enough opinions and enough votes to alter the election. It was a crucial factor in the result but has to be seen in the context of all these others.
- The Russians tried to meddle in the election to promote their favoured candidate and discredit Secretary Clinton – this effort via Wikileaks and others helped sow more doubts about Secretary Clinton. Did she represent the old Washington way of doing business whereas Trump offered change? Every election is about change and he became the change candidate.
- The email scandal was the news cycle that woudn’t end. It was poor judgement to begin with from Secretary Clinton, it was made worse by bungling the PR on it – no fulsome apology until too late, slowness to see the danger and flatfooted and complacent initially in response. This all added to the narrative that a vote for Clinton was a vote for more gravy train, snouts in the trough, the rules don’t apply to me government.
- Trump’s personal conduct, his morals, his views on women and minorities would have disqualified every other candidate for President – but this was already known about him during the primaries and it didn’t stop him. The Access Hollywood tape was grotesque but it was hardly a surprise. That view of Trump was already baked in to people’s views and Secretary Clinton’s focus on Trump’s character was relentless but fruitless – it didn’t change enough minds.
- Trump had a clear economic message – total protectionist, fantasy land stuff but it was simple and it played. Secretary Clinton had sound ideas but an uninspiring message – it was more dullness and grey against his bright shades of black and white
- On election day, the energy behind Trump exceeded the energy behind Cinton – more people went to the polls fired up and probably got others to vote too on the back of their energy. In an election with two such unpopular, divisive candidates many stayed at home. Sadly for Secretary Clinton, that included too many of her and Democrat’s natural voters – the Obama coalition.
These factors combined and proved what is clear in almost everything in life; there is no simple answer; no single reason why something happened. It was made up of lots of things, big and small. Sadly what really happened is that America elected its most unqualified and unsuitable President in living memory; a man who stands amongst us as the leader of the free world without the qualities needed to grace his magnificent office. What happened is the world became a less stable, less peaceful, less civilised, less inspiring place and we are all suffering. What happened is that we are all the poorer. Whoever’s fault it is, the world is the worse for Secretary Clinton writing a book now instead of sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.
What happened?! Yes, Trump happened. Shit happened.
Photo taken from Amazon.co.uk