As Alexander Pope wrote, “Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.” In 1709, the word “fool” wasn’t as negative as it is today, but I do know better than doing what I am about to do. Ladies and gentlemen, the death-defying, oracle-bending, final answer to why Hillary Clinton was not going to win the 2016 election! Her new book What Happened and an earlier journalistic review called Shattered: Inside Hillary’s Doomed Campaign look for explanations of her defeat. In my opinion, she never had a chance of winning in the first place.
So sure was I of this impossibility that I made a rather large bet on the matter even before she announced for the race in 2015. So neither the gut-wrenching primaries nor the endless months of campaign mudslinging, not the FBI nor the polls, nothing, in fact, from 2016, had anything to do with my firm belief that her presidency was not to be. Her defeat, stunning in every way, followed weeks of figuring out how to pay my coming debt: $5 a week for years? In a load of pennies? From Mexico? The source of my prescience is not entirely clear, but what follows are my best intellectual guesses of what I sensed long ago.
These days, the word “liar” gets thrown around indiscriminately. Hillary made (and makes) untrue statements. But to say she lies exceeds the scope of either the press or her detractors. Benghazi, the email server, the Bosnian sniper fire, dead broke leaving the White House—these are a few examples of times she has been accused of playing fast and loose with the truth. Attitude reveals more than an unknowable pronouncement of lying, however. In an angry answer to questions about comments she made after Benghazi, her words (“What difference does it make…?) have been taken out of context, but the effect was chilling regardless. Here her responses to Rep. Jordan regarding the attack include facial expressions that could be described in many ways, none flattering. Integrity in its sense of wholeness, completeness in character, does not deflect or act defensive. It’s not just that Hillary doesn’t accept responsibility when she misspeaks; she seems not to have remorse or humility about the lack.
Husband Bill is another problem. He was impeached in 1998 though subsequently acquitted. Lying and obstruction of justice were the charges, but the soul of the matter was his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, complicated with a sexual harassment accusation from Paula Jones. Bill Clinton lied, and Hillary Clinton publically defended him from the non-existent “vast right-wing conspiracy.” No one knows how many sexual encounters he has had. Two are enough. Cliché of the day: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. One indiscretion, take him back. Second one, done. What happened to the idea of a fish not needing a bicycle? Yes, marriage is important, but self-respect counts for something. Her erstwhile opponent called her an enabler, another layer of attack. But the bottom line is clearer: Had she moved on past the humiliation and separated herself from Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton would have become her own person, a better example to all women.
Hillary hasn’t done much. Years as a First Lady, of course. Her Senate terms yielded only 3 passed bills, one naming a highway and another a postal building, the third naming and funding a historic site. Commendable, but not a legacy of the heart. One supporter, after choking when asked the question about accomplishments in the Senate, later came up with a list of co-sponsored bills but admitted she didn’t vote for Hillary in the primary. Her time at State—even thinner and more controversial. She traveled a lot. Her camp says she brought Iran to its knees, an exaggeration at best. She resigned after a head injury, though she had always planned just a single term so the connection isn’t clear. One source takes this lack of accomplishment to a higher level saying she has taken credit for things she didn’t do at all. Lots of talking, really, nothing to call her own.
Angels trod not, but I’m done. Reflecting on this research, one point is missing: There is no reason why this country cannot elect a woman. The list of other countries with female heads of state is actually quite long. The misogyny excuse sounds like a troubled sociological paradigm, impossible to remedy. The truth of the matter? The country just would not elect this woman.