In a rare post-2016 public venting on CNN, Hillary Clinton made it perfectly clear on Tuesday why she lost the presidency to the unfit, unprepared, unlikely likes of Donald Trump.
The defeated Democratic presidential candidate firmly and unequivocally blamed her electoral loss on unprecedented interventions by two culprits who couldn’t have been more effective if they had planned to act as a tag-team: FBI Director James Comey’s bizarre announcement just 10 days before the voting that he was re-opening the investigation of Clinton’s private email server — based on new evidence that turned out to be old and proved nothing new at all; and of course, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprecedented cyber-invasion theft and leaking of Democratic emails to damage and defeat her.
But neither of those now-familiar facts, which indeed contributed to her defeat, are the jaw-dropping Clinton revelation we will be talking about here. No, we are focusing today on yet another blame-claim she made in a half-hour-long interview on CNN — one that is so mind-numbingly wrong it is surely in the category of whatever it was that inspired one of the earliest internet gurus to coin the shorthand “OMG!”
Clinton said it near the end of her interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, long after she had made her case that she was defeated because of Comey’s political interference in the name of crime-fighting and Putin’s cybercrime against America’s democracy.
Onstage in front of a very friendly audience of the Women for Women International humanitarian organization, Amanpour told Clinton, “(Y)our supporters are sad, they’re devastated, they’re disappointed, and some are angry. And some say, you know, could it have been different? Could the campaign have been better? Could you have had a better rationale?” Amanpour noted that Trump had stuck with one consistent message — Make America Great Again. Then she asked: “And where was your message? Do you take any personal responsibility?”
“Oh, of course — I take absolute personal responsibility,” Clinton quickly replied. “I was the candidate.” Then she launched into a rather introspective soliloquy that somehow segued into a rationale in which she grasped that responsibility she’d just accepted and flung it — right at the mainstream media, where it landed with all the subtlety of a pie-in-the-face. She blamed the debate media questioners for failing to ask about her solutions for creating jobs. Which, she says, is why she never got to tell voters about all these great job solutions she was locked and loaded and ready to announce in a debate. (No wonder suffering middle class Americans who once were the Democrats’ blue collar base tipped once-blue collar states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to Trump.)
Just listen for yourself:
“I’d obviously given a lot of thought about what kind of president I wanted to be, what I thought we could do,” said Clinton. “ … You know, I kept waiting for the moment. I’ve watched a million presidential debates in my life, and I was waiting for the moment when one of the people asking the questions would have said, ‘Well, so exactly how are you going to create more jobs?' Right? I mean, I thought that, you know, I thought at some moment that would happen. And I was ready for that moment.”
Well, speaking of moments, we’ve just reached the moment where we should all be rolling our eyes skyward and exclaiming: “Oh My God!”
We all know the bottom line of this blame game: If Clinton had great solutions and wanted to be America’s Jobs President, all she had to do was give a speech and say them. Better yet, many speeches. Also, every rookie candidate knows Debate Trick No. 1: If you’ve got something you want to say, simply twist any question toward your topic — and say whatever you want!
But in Campaign 2016, Clinton didn’t even need to pull Debate Trick No. 1. Because in the very first question of the very first fall campaign debate, NBC’s Lester Holt asked her: “Beginning with you, Secretary Clinton, why are you a better choice than your opponent to create the kinds of jobs that will put more money into the pockets of American workers?”
Clinton began with a bromide — the importance of building for the future. Then this: “Today is my granddaughter’s 2nd birthday, so I think about this a lot.” She wallowed, wandered and tap-danced on a quicksand of cliches and generalities — but no solutions. All un-memorably, for the nation’s voters and — quite obviously — for herself.
And now she’s apparently still wallowing in the muck of strained rationales and self-denial.
Martin Schram, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service, is a veteran Washington journalist, author and TV documentary executive. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org