On Tuesday, while being interviewed by Christiane Amanpour at a “Women for Women” event in New York, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton cast specific, targeted and direct blame at everyone, but herself, for her shocking election loss in November.
She blamed sexism, saying, “It is real. It is very much a part of the landscape politically, socially and economically.”
But the attention-grabbing headline was this: “If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president,” Clinton said, noting that she was “on the way to winning until a combination of [FBI Director] Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off.”
Apparently, a staggering inability to take responsibility for one’s mistakes can run in marriages.
Let us unpack what she said.
Mr. Comey’s investigation would never have existed had Mrs. Clinton not selfishly created her own email server to handle work-related emails, and ultimately, classified information. This was her fault alone. No server, no investigation.
Mr. Comey testified Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he felt duty-bound to notify — through a private letter — a small circle of Capitol Hill leaders that the laptop of Anthony Weiner, husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, appeared to possess thousands of new Clinton emails. Mr. Comey recalled that he faced “two terrible choices” — announce he was restarting the Clinton investigation or conceal that he was restarting it. Going public was “very bad,” he acknowledged, but concealing the information would have been “catastrophic” for the FBI and for the country.
Mrs. Clinton is blaming our nation’s highest independent law enforcement official for costing her the election, in a shameful display of selfishness and blame-shifting.
It was the Democratic nominee herself who spent more than a year consistently lying about her private server. As Charles Krauthammer recently noted, nearly every statement she made in her initial press conference at the United Nations was false. Her “honest and trustworthy” ratings with the public took a nosedive, with about two-thirds of all Americans finding her to be dishonest. This was her fault alone.
Stunningly, her campaign did not travel to Wisconsin even once in the general election and only traveled to Michigan twice. This strategic failure is the fault of both Mrs. Clinton and her campaign.
The Clinton campaign had no real message. Her campaign held two years of focus groups before the campaign began in an ill-fated attempt to develop a “rationale” for her candidacy. They tested 84 campaign slogans, ultimately settling on the anodyne “Stronger together.” By the end of her campaign, her message was effectively, “I’m not Donald Trump.” It wasn’t enough. Again, Mr. Comey isn’t to blame for her own shortsightedness.
When Mrs. Clinton called Trump supporters “deplorables,” it had the same devastating effect of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comment. Candidates who show disdain for an opposing candidate’s supporters only deepen the resolve of those voters. Across the country, the enthusiasm of Mr. Trump’s base outpaced the enthusiasm of her base.
Perhaps most important, Mrs. Clinton ran as a status quo candidate in a “change” election year. A solid majority did not believe the country was headed in the right direction after eight years of President Obama. She chose not to offer a new direction in any meaningful way, while Mr. Trump was clearly the candidate of change. That is her fault alone.
Former chief Obama senior strategist David Axelrod told CNN Wednesday, “It takes a lot of work to lose to Donald Trump. Let me tell you, he was the least popular presidential candidate to win in the history of polling.”
Mrs. Clinton in her New York remarks did admit she “didn’t run a perfect campaign,” a laughably mild statement that is true of every campaign ever run anywhere in the world. It’s not that her campaign wasn’t perfect — it’s that it was dreadful.
In watching her utter failure to take real responsibility for her election loss, it occurs to me that Hillary Clinton remains stuck on the first stage of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) over last November’s result.
Mrs. Clinton remains in denial, a condition she shares with the Democratic Party writ large.
Where is the DNC “autopsy” of the party’s failings in 2016? How will the party ensure a fair and impartial primary in 2020? Will their presidential nominee be under 70 years old?
I truly hope that Hillary Clinton finds peace. But it is a long road from denial to acceptance.
— Matt Mackowiak is the president of Austin-based Potomac Strategy Group, a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran, and former press secretary to two U.S. senators. He is the host of a new national politics podcast, “Mack on Politics,” produced in partnership with The Washington Times. His podcast may be found at washingtontimes.com/mackonpolitics.
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