Hillary Clinton’s campaign postmortem considers what might have been

Chuck Twardy

Three and a half stars

What Happened By Hillary Rodham Clinton, $30

Early in What Happened, her frank account of last year’s surreal election, Hillary Rodham Clinton tells of a woman compelling her adult daughter to apologize to Clinton for not voting: “I wanted to stare right in her eyes and say, ‘You didn’t vote? How could you not vote? You abdicated your responsibility as a citizen at the worst possible time!’… Of course, I didn’t say any of that.”

Oh, that she had. Or that she had told Donald Trump to “back up, you creep,” when he stalked her at the second presidential debate. She says that might have played into his hands, but you have to wonder. Elsewhere in her post-mortem, she lists her reticence to express anger or outrage among potential causes of defeat: “I was running a traditional presidential campaign with carefully thought-out policies and painstakingly built coalitions, while Trump was running a reality TV show that expertly and relentlessly stoked Americans’ anger and resentment.”

Her husband, of course, was the past master at feeling folks’ pain, but Hillary Clinton just could not pull it off with the same aplomb. She accepts at least some of the blame for her long campaign’s miserable death.

You can’t fault her for taking a few swings at other villains, though, including former FBI Director James Comey, who deemed it prudent to alert Congress to emails found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop 10 days before the election, but not to alert anyone that agents were probing the Trump campaign’s Russian connections. Vladimir Putin figures prominently among her tormentors, and Clinton lists the mounting evidence that should give us ample reason to be concerned about him, and about Trump’s admiration of him. Of the latter she concludes, “He dreams of Moscow on the Potomac.”

The political press corps’ endless unraveling of her email non-controversy earns muted contempt—more than you ever wanted to know about that here—but she also asserts that the billionaire-funded right-wing media complex, from Fox to Breitbart, had poisoned the patient for years. “As a result, by the time Vladimir Putin came along, our democracy was already far sicker than we realized,” Clinton writes.

She also dissects, and regrets, the “deplorables” comment. But it lay bare the insidious infection that worsened the election’s other deadly conditions: racism. Clinton elicits ample evidence of it among Trump’s ardent supporters. So, yeah, how could you not vote?

Here’s hoping it wasn’t your last chance.

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