Hillary last year, campaigning on centrist military themes. Basically, she lost because her campaign foundered amidst a national wave of populism. By not patching divisions and picking Bernie Sanders as VP she sealed her fate and that of the party.
In Hillary Clinton's new book, What Happened,, the former Dem candidate ponders all the reasons she lost the election to the "creep" Donald J. Trump. While ostensibly taking the blame on her own shoulders, she still managed the feat of spreading it far and wide. She has also set off a firestorm of controversy including in the D party. As one blogger (John Atcheson) on smikringchimp.com put it, Hillary "has been raising quite a brouhaha among Democrats. The general consensus is that most wish she’d just go away, with many saying she’s sapping energy and attention at a time when the party should be forging unity and looking forward."
Her most curious take was that Bernie Sanders, who incited an unheard of populist wave using tens of thousands of small donations was partly to blame. Well, in a way this was true, by her failure to pick him (or Elizabeth Warren) as Veep - as other party nominees have done with their campaign rivals to seal party unity going forward. Think of Reagan picking George Bush Sr. in 1980 and Kennedy picking Johnson as his VP in 1960.
Given Hillary herself was an uninspiring candidate with the charisma of worn rug, she absolutely needed someone else on the ticket to spark interest and fire up the liberal base. (Which WSJ columnist William Galston estimated at 48 percent of the Democratic Party by the time of last year's general election.) Instead, she selected another boring candidate (and centrist) Tim Kaine. After that selection I forecast a Dem loss at the polls in my July 21 post, 'A Hillary Prescription for Losing In November, Pick Tim Kaine As Veep'.
Apart from Kaine's booooooooring index, there were other issues such as blogger David Swanson pointed out at the time on smirkingchimp.com:
"Kaine was an anti-environmentalist pro-coal governor of Virginia, a supporter of the "right to work" (for less) law restricting union organizing in Virginia, and he is a supporter of corporate trade agreements including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and including fast-tracking the TPP. An extremely loyal Democrat, he nonetheless criticized Democrats in 2011 for proposing higher taxes on millionaires.
Kaine is the anti-Bernie Sanders on policy and on process. He takes his direction from those in power, not from the public. In a poll of over 250 Sanders delegates to the Democratic National Convention (by the Bernie Delegate Network), only 2.7% of them said they thought Kaine would be an acceptable vice presidential nominee."
Meanwhile, with another Neolib on the ticket Bernie or Bust people will not be energized enough to change their minds and certainly not to subscribe to the lesser of two evils again. They will also take a Kaine pick as not only a slap in the face, but also showing Clinton doesn't really support Bernie Sanders positions or the integration of some of them into the Dem platform
That was actually confirmed in her book, wherein she lashed out at Sanders as one of the factors (along with James Comey's intrusions, Donald Trump's antics, and the Russians) that was responsible for her loss.
In her book, Clinton specifically ridiculed Sanders for promising big, and in her opinion, unrealistic programs. To make her point she described a scene from the movie, There’s Something About Mary:
A deranged hitch-hiker comes up with a brilliant plan. Instead of the famous “8 minute abs”exercise routine, he’s going to market “seven minute abs....” The driver played by Ben Stiller, says, “Why not six minute abs?” That’s what it was like in policy debates with Bernie. We would propose a bold infrastructure plan or ambitious new apprentice program for young people and Bernie would announce basically the same thing but bigger. One issue after the other it was like he kept promising four minute abs, or even no minute abs. Magic abs.So what did Bernie, the “deranged hitch-hiker” offer?
- While Hillary wanted to tinker with Obamacare and continue its dependence on the private insurance industry, Bernie called for single-payer Medicare for All which would eliminate insurance industry involvement.
- While Hillary wanted to tighten a few bank regulations, Bernie called for the breakup of big banks, something she claimed was unnecessary.
- While Hillary offered a complex scheme that would reduce the cost of higher education for some lower income students, Bernie called for free higher education for all.
Clinton's book is most mystifying in that it doesn't conform to the logical basis for her premise, that is that she was "ultimately to blame" for her loss to Trump. But that raises a paradox - as one WSJ reviewer (Barton Swaim) put it, p. C6, Sept. 16-17:
"How can she bear the blame if she never did anything wrong?"
The examples he provides, along with others given (cited earlier by Atcheson), confirm how politically tone deaf Clinton was, as for example when Sanders and others pressed her about her Wall Street speeches. She wrote in respect of that, and effectively why she never made them public:
"When you know why you're doing something and you know there's nothing more to it and certainly noting sinister, it's easy to assume that others will see it in the same way."
But, of course, that never happened, mainly because suspicion of Wall Street had been building to a crescendo since the end of the 2007-08 financial crisis - when millions lost a good chunk of their 401ks - not to mention jobs. A savvy politico would have processed that and chucked the baseless assumptions, thinking: "You know, I have got to come clean with so many of these people still hurting. I HAVE to be transparent!"
But she wasn't and that - along with other missteps, came back to bite her. Why did Hillary lose?? There are hundreds of reasons to pick, including failing to show up in three critical swing states that ultimately went to Trump: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan - with the total slim margin of 77,000 votes,
But some 400 pages in, Hillary herself writes - after exhausting the 399+ page blame game:
"Why did I lose? I go back to my own shortcomings and the mistakes we made. I take responsibility for all of them....you can blame the data, blame the message, but I was the candidate. It was my campaign."
Well, better late than never, I say.