Gracious, sometimes-wonkish post-mortem of the last presidential election by its surprise loser, who still can’t quite believe…well, what happened.
“I ran for President because I thought I’d be good at the job,” writes Clinton (Hard Choices, 2014, etc.), modestly. She adds, a touch less demurely, “I thought that of all the people who might run, I had the most relevant experience, meaningful accomplishments, and ambitious but achievable proposals, as well as the temperament to get things done in Washington.” Against her was arrayed a field of Republican candidates that included the one no one took seriously—but also, as the author notes in a reckoning that is remarkably measured, a whole cultural and political field of opponents, including Russian hackers and a grudge-bearing Vladimir Putin, the crew of WikiLeaks, Bernie Sanders and his devout followers, misogyny, and a few missteps that, refreshingly, Clinton’s not shy about owning up to. (One takeaway: don’t campaign with pneumonia. Take a day off.) Of the many enemies, writes the author, misogyny was likely the most intractable, even given James Comey, the screams about emails, voter suppression, and Donald Trump’s hammering away about “lying Hillary,” to say nothing about looming behind her creepily in debate. Mostly, Clinton campaigned against anger, and she could never quite get a handle on how to reckon with it. Pundits have since insisted that Clinton should have spoken more from the heart and been less managed, which isn’t really how politics is done—well, until Trump came along and opened the door to a post-truth America. Of all the upshots, that truth business seems to be what bothers Clinton most, but mostly she’s understandably amazed, as are so many, to have gone to bed in one America and awoken in another: “I picture future historians scratching their heads, trying to understand what happened. I’m still scratching mine, too.”
A touch too reserved and polite, given the circumstances, and in need of supplementing by hard-edged books like Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’ Shattered. Still, a useful book to read—and, for many, to mourn over.