Democrats have a Hillary Clinton problem

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, September 13, 2017

by Carl Golden

As she embarks on her spread the blame tour to juice sales of her book, “What Happened,” Hillary Clinton risks becoming a caricature — an embittered sore loser driven by vanity and incapable of accepting any narrative or explanation that differs from hers.

The release of excerpts and the hype surrounding her national tour and interviews have created serious angst among Democratic Party leaders who — unlike Clinton — have come to terms with her defeat and want nothing more than to move on with rebuilding a shattered party organization and positioning itself for a legitimate shot at gaining seats in the Congress in 2018.

They fear her efforts to relitigate the election will exacerbate intra-party divisions rather than helping heal them and by drawing outsized media attention completely overshadow any attempt to deliver a cogent, credible message to the American people.

Hers was a textbook case of a candidate who believed her own press clippings. The storm clouds gathering on the horizon were blotted out by the blizzard of rose petals strewn in her path by the party establishment, pollsters, major donors, a sycophantic staff and hangers-on, and a sympathetic — and, in some instances, unabashedly supportive — national media.

She blew $1 billion on a campaign to lose to a thrice-married New York real estate developer who spent about half that. Small wonder she’s bitter.

To be sure, she won the popular vote but, in politics, there’s no such thing as a silver medal. You win or you don’t.

She again blames her loss on former FBI Director James Comey, alleged Russian interference, an inept national party organization, and the flood of embarrassing campaign e-mails published by WikiLeaks.

In the book, however, she goes much further, castigating Vermont’s socialist Senator Bernie Sanders for his audacity in challenging her in the primaries, and, to a lesser extent, on President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for their perceived lukewarm support.

Her sharp words for Sanders surprised some, not so much for the criticism itself, but for the intensity with which it was delivered. She accused him of not being a Democrat, suggesting that she felt it improper for him to run, and claimed his only reason for entering the race was to be a disruptive force in the party.

He stole her ideas, she claims, and took whatever she said a step further in a blatant appeal to the far left to convince them she was insufficiently supportive of the party’s principles. 

It is yet another attempt in the ongoing effort to downplay the damage she brought on herself by maintaining a private e-mail server in her home and using it to convey classified State Department documents.

Her constantly shifting explanations  — “I didn’t want to be burdened by carrying two devices to communicate” was, perhaps, the most incredible — reinforced the perception that she felt it unnecessary to abide by the same rules as others.

Her supporters, convinced they were helping, often accomplished the opposite.

Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright — not renowned for her political insight — once huffed “there’s a special place in hell” for any woman who failed to vote for Hillary, drawing laughter and applause from the candidate.

Try that line on the wife of a laid-off auto plant worker in Michigan struggling with telling her teen-age son the family can’t afford $100 for a new pair of Nikes for him.    

Donald Trump spoke directly to that woman and millions of others in the same predicament, while Hillary airily consigned them to “a basket of deplorables” who deserved their fate of going directly to Albright’s Hades.

Coming from someone who accepted quarter million dollar fees for 20-minute speeches and whose former president husband flew around the world collecting millions in speaking honoria or donations to the family foundation, it was a jolting reminder of how badly out of touch she was with ordinary Americans.

The speculation that her book and her promotional tour are designed to maintain relevancy and position her for yet another presidential run in 2020, assuming Trump will have self-destructed by then, can’t be taken seriously.

Torching all her bridges while blaming leaders of her party for her loss is a peculiar strategy for someone looking to the future.

The words of Oliver Cromwell, British military and political leader, come to mind when, in 1653, addressing Parliament, he said: “Depart I say and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Many hand-wringing Democrat leaders, faced with Hillary’s earth-scorching must be wondering:  “Where’s go old Ollie when we need him?”

CARL GOLDEN is a senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University in New Jersey. You can reach him at cgolden1937@gmail.