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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

While we’re examining the accomplishments of Donald Trump’s first 100 days — putting his man on the U.S. Supreme Court is the biggie — Hillary Clinton is getting the once-over (and the second and third) for all the reasons why she’s not the first woman to preside over her own first 100 days in the Oval Office.

She never understood that “the fault, dear Hillary, is not in the stars, but in yourself.”


In “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign,” the book Washington is talking about, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, write a sweeping drama with lots of supporting actors strutting across the stage. The characters are worthy of the Bard. It’s a tale told not in the poetry of Elizabethan tragedy, but as comedy or farce.

When the curtain finally falls on election night, there are no dead bodies to drag offstage, but lots of Machiavellian characters litter the landscape, muttering asides and revealing dark insights into behind-the-scenes machinations. The cast includes a husband with no “impulse-control button,” and enough jesters, fools and sycophants to destroy the myth of the irresistible Hillary juggernaut ordained to elect the first woman president of the United States.

In one richly farcical case of mistaken identity, an aide misunderstands the name of the interviewer Hillary wanted for her first television interview. She said she wanted “Bianna,” meaning Bianna Golodryga of Yahoo! News, the wife of Peter Orszag, a onetime Clinton administration economic adviser, whom she considered friendly and deferential. The aide thought she meant “Brianna,” as in Brianna Keilar, and that’s who got the live interview for CNN. She asked tough questions about Hillary’s infamous email server.

Hillary grew defensive, especially when she was asked, “Would you vote for someone you didn’t trust?” This was a classic softball, which someone at ease with the press might have knocked out of the park. Instead, she glared daggers at the questioner, and replied, as if in a sulk, “People should and do trust me.” The lady doth protest too much, methinks — and so did much of the national audience.

Such insights, errors and sloppy staff work dogged her throughout the campaign, and this after-the-fact focus in this season of her discontent shows her to be the culprit in her demise. “Shattered” supports why a Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests that Donald Trump, despite low approval ratings, would still defeat Hillary in the Electoral College, and this time in the popular vote as well, by 43 percent for the Donald and 40 percent for the Lady Macbeth late of Little Rock. A remarkable 96 percent of Trump voters say they would vote for him again, and only 15 percent of Hillary voters would still vote for her.

Richard Nixon might have felt at home in the Hillary bunker. After her 2008 loss to Barack Obama, Hillary aides assigned loyalty scores to members of Congress, from 1 to 7. A score of 1 reflected high loyalty, 7 likely to commit “egregious acts of treachery.” Such expectations of disloyalty terrified everyone in the bunker.

Donald Trump, by contrast, inspires a different kind of loyalty. His supporters stick with him despite his evident flaws, his angry tweets, anger that can go public in an instant. They nevertheless believe he’s got their back. There’s no mushy empathy like the Clintons’ phony assurance that “we feel your pain.” The president’s fans don’t like some of the things he’s done, but still think he’ll deliver on his promise to bring about change, and destroy the establishment of the elites that has grown fat and stale, surviving long past their sell-by date.

In town halls during spring break, many voters vented anger at congressmen for their support of the president. But Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, typical of the president’s loyal friends in Congress, offered a defense. “We’d be hard pressed to find a president who doesn’t have flaws,” she said. “I support a majority of the policies versus the actual person.” A Bubba defender couldn’t have said it better.

Hillary has yet to measure the man or understand the “ordinary” men and women who stand with the president. When her aides, preparing her for one of the debates, had to choose someone to play the Donald, casting was a problem because the campaign didn’t want a Saturday Night Live imitation, but someone to rattle and annoy her. Anthony Weiner, the suspect sex-texter husband of Huma Abedin, was suggested. But Phillipe Reines, a senior aide with an acid tongue and a reputation for rudeness, was selected. He helped her to an unflappable debate performance, but couldn’t do anything about the school-marm style that turned off the millions. Hillary is a woman of many gifts, but not what the poet Bobby Burns described as “the gift to see ourselves as others see us.” It was the fatal flaw.

• Suzanne Fields is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.


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