April 08, 2017
Hillary Clinton emerged from the woods this week for her first big interview since the Nov. 8 election.
Over the course of her soft-focus conversation with the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, the former secretary of state identified some of the reasons she thinks she lost to President Donald Trump.
Clinton blamed FBI director James B. Comey, who re-opened the investigation of her private emails in the final days of the campaign. She also blamed Russia for allegedly meddling in the election by reportedly hacking the personal email accounts of Democratic National Committee staffers and her campaign chairman, John Podesta.
She blamed the hacking group WikiLeaks for publishing the stolen emails during the election.
Clinton blamed the “weaponization of information.”
She also jokingly blamed her chief Democrat primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and media for her general election loss.
“To what extent do you assign blame to Bernie Sanders, to media for focusing on emails – ” Kristoff started to ask.
“How much time do we have?” Clinton laughed after checking her watch.
She also blamed misogyny.
“Certainly, misogyny played a role. And that just has to be admitted, and why and what the underlying reasons for that, is what I’m trying to figure out myself,” she said. “I think in this election there was a very real struggle between what is viewed as change that is welcomed and exciting to so many Americans and change which is worrisome and threatening to so many others.”
“You layer on the first woman president over that, and I think some people, women included, had big problems,” she added.
Notably absent, however, from Clinton’s hall of blame were mentions of the many things her campaign got wrong.
She didn’t mention, for example, the fact that she didn’t set foot in Wisconsin once during the entire general election. She didn’t mention her team’s initial decision to frame the campaign in terms of how voters could help her (“I’m with her!”) and not vice versa. She didn’t mention her team’s mind-boggling decision to outsource part of its millennial outreach efforts to Al Gore, 69, and Dave Matthews, 50. She didn’t mention the campaign’s bizarre decision to send Lena Dunham to North Carolina. She didn’t mention the moment she claimed at a fundraiser in New York City that “half” of Trump’s supporters were “irredeemable” bigots.
Clinton also ignored all mentions of the fact her team actively ignored and took for granted disaffected white and working class voters whom Obama had won, even after Bill Clinton, who won the rust belt twice, implored them to reconsider their strategy.
The point of this isn’t to pile on or twist the knife, but Clinton and her campaign got a lot wrong. They need to own it instead of just blaming Putin and misogyny.
Clinton had nearly every conceivable advantage going into 2016. She had a massive war chest, a party that was far more unified than her opponent’s, a well-established network of influential donors and political hands and the enthusiastic backing of A-list celebrities as well as two very popular presidents. She also had her opponent, usually his own worst enemy.
A lot of things went against Clinton as well, but she’s not doing anyone any favors by insisting on a fault-free postmortem.