2016 Election Thoughts – Part I (HRC). Today, we focus on the losing side of the election.
I want to solve for Bernie Sanders straightaway. First, anyone who identifies with a party which uses any variant of Social in its name will never be President of the United States. Had Senator Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton, watching him explain the difference between a Socialist and a Social Democrat would have been lots of fun. In the end, though, his explanations never would have worked.
Second, Senator Sanders was not qualified to be POTUS. Like Donald Trump, he knows how to use a flamethrower. He’s also far smarter and more knowledgeable than our soon-to-be president. And orders of magnitude more honest and disciplined. Still, successful presidents bring a set of interpersonal skills that we never saw from Senator Sanders. And he has no reputation in Washington for getting much done.
The outsider label makes people feel good. But someone who’s been in Washington for decades without a meaningful set of accomplishments likely lacks the qualities we need in the Oval Office.
I’m pre-empting myself on Hillary Clinton to address FBI Director James Comey and the two letters. Two quick thoughts.
First, no one knows what impact the letters had on the election. Amy Chozick wrote Hillary Clinton Blames F.B.I. Director for Election Loss for the New York Times on November 12. Maybe she’s right, but we’ll never know.
Second, no one will ever convince me that Director Comey acted with bad motives. He made the right call on July 5. (I cannot imagine anyone being charged with a crime for actions taken openly and obviously, for years, in as murky an area as interfacing with the “piece of crap” tech systems used by the federal government.) He said too much, though, and should have followed SOP. (“We have reviewed the evidence. We will not be going forward to seek an indictment.”) Had he done so, the late October and early November letters would never have been written.
So why don’t I doubt Director Comey’s motives? Here are three reasons. He could have reached a different decision in July. He didn’t need to send the November 6 letter. And nothing in his background suggests to me that a President Trump suits his fancy.
Hillary Clinton has served our nation well. She cares about people in a way that Donald Trump never will. She’s been walking her talk for more than 50 years.
Ms. Clinton brought to the country extraordinary talents. She would have been an extraordinary president. Her loss is our loss.
Those comments aside, Ms. Clinton was the wrong person for 2016. And, according to at least one account, she and her people appreciated her challenges and knew her chances were dicey at best. Inside the Loss Clinton Saw Coming, by Edward-Isaac Dovere for Politico on November 9, provides the details.
According to Mr. Dovere, “Clinton and her operatives went into the race predicting her biggest problems would be inevitability and her age, trying to succeed a two-term president of her own party.” They were also surprised by the mood of the country, per Mr. Dovere. And then, “they never could escape the emails.”
Mr. Dovere’s analysis offers many insights. For another post-mortem I recommend The Clintons Were Undone by the Middle-American Voters They Once Knew So Well, written for the Washington Post on November 9 by Detroit, Bill Clinton, Gore, and Obama biographer David Maraniss. Mr. Maraniss—who is a terrific writer—uses President Clinton’s shift “from McDonald’s to veganism” as a symbol for the failure to connect.
So now I’m deeply, deeply frustrated by Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency. I get the skills, the desire, and even just how important her being president might have been, for women, and for the world. I really get it! But … .
“But the mood of the country surprised them,” are Mr. Dovere’s words. How could the mood surprise them? Did the 2010 and 2014 mid-terms mean nothing? The Tea Party? Anger over Obamacare?
The emails were always a bunch of nonsense. (Read The Real Clinton Email Scandal is That a Bullshit Story Has Dominated the Campaign by Matthew Yglesias for Vox if facts matter even a little.) But, can you say Filegate? Travelgate? Vince Foster? Whitewater?
I want to be crystal clear here. The 1990s stuff—like the emails—was nonsense, overhyped by a crew hell-bent on destroying the Clinton Administration, no matter what. That said, scorpions sting frogs in the middle of a river because … they’re scorpions. The emails should not even have been a thing, but if you’re a Clinton and you’ve got an issue, you better have a clear, understandable answer, or you need to stay home.
Then there’s the money from the speeches. There was never anything illegal or unethical about any aspect of the speech making, but Ds know Rs get to make lots of money … and Ds don’t. So stop! Don’t take money from Goldman Sachs when you’re running for president. Or thinking about running. Or thinking that someday you might just think about it.
Hillary Clinton cleared the decks long before the 2016 season started. Bernie Sanders showed up, and that changed things, but her decision to run left no room for anyone else. (“What?” “Martin O’-who?” I rest my case.)
My friend Lowell Rothschild has drilled into me, repeatedly, the need for alte kackers—old farts—to step aside. “Make room for others,” he says. He’s right. I’ll share more thoughts on the Democrat Party’s bench strength later in the week. (“A bench?” “What’s that?”). In the meantime, though, we gave an extraordinarily competent, decent, caring human being an opportunity to fulfill her and our dreams. In doing so, though, we forgot about the greater good.
I confess, in closing, that I did not see the problems attendant to Hillary Clinton’s run nearly as clearly as I do now. So, apologies for sounding certain and knowledgeable. I’m raising the issue because we must do more to make sure our candidates have fewer flaws, going forward. The consequences are clearer than they’ve ever been.