Hillary’s campaign memoir, What Happened, is as awful as expected, serving as yet another cracked window on her phoniness. She remains the baby-boomer feminist fraud, still pouting over alleged sexism even as she hurls herself upon various fainting couches.
She writes about her defeat with the emotional intensity of a parent who lost a child — a chilling and neurotic proof of her clawing, bottomless and now forever thwarted political ambition.
She is a failed Lady Macbeth, but a Lady Macbeth who wants us to feel sorry for her, what with her chardonnay-chugging and alternate nostril breathing after the election. She writes: “If you’ve never done alternate nostril breathing, it’s worth a try.… It may sound silly, but it works for me. It wasn’t all yoga and breathing: I also drank my share of chardonnay.”
But in the course of acknowledging her post-election emotional tailspin, she gets in a curious dig at her husband and friends. She wants us to know that she is not as screwed up as they are. “I remember when Bill lost his reelection as Governor of Arkansas. He was so distraught at the outcome that I had to go to the hotel where the election night party was held to speak to his supporters on his behalf,” she writes. “For a good while afterward, he was so depressed that he practically couldn’t get off the ground. That’s not me. I keep going.”
About her friends, she writes that they “advised me on the power of Xanax and raved about their amazing therapists.… But that wasn’t for me. Never has been.”
See, she is still the strong one! It is true that Bill did moon about after his defeat in 1980. He would hang out in grocery stores, following people to their cars as he explained why they should give him another shot. But it is not clear why Hillary thinks that is more pathetic than her frantic closet-cleaning, taking to her bed on election night (while her crying supporters sat stupidly at the Javits Center waiting for her to appear), or any of the other attempts at “self-care” that she reports in the book.
Hillary, when not insisting upon her own claimed superiority, sounds less like Lady Macbeth than Madame Bovary. Hillary, Bovary-like, cops to a frenzied attempt to find pleasure and meaning in the void of her denied dream, in everything from movies, plays, and evening soaps to sentimental books to even religion. “I prayed a lot,” she writes. “I can almost see the cynics rolling their eyes.”
They should, especially after she likens her defeat to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. She ludicrously quotes a Methodist minister who told her, “You are experiencing a Friday. But Sunday is coming!”
The book is full of inadvertent humor. She pats herself on the back for the generosity that she showed the “4,400 members of my campaign staff” in the midst of her grief, such as when she re-gifted 1,200 red roses to them that a woman’s advocacy group had delivered to her Chappaqua mansion. It sounded less like a gift than more closet-cleaning.
But Hillary’s grimly comic lack of self-awareness is most on display when she tries to explain why the peasants rejected her. She essentially recycles Obama’s claim that Americans are still clinging to their God and guns. She recounts Bill telling her an ominous story about an Arkansan store owner who was going to vote for Tom Cotton because the “Democrats want to take away my gun and make me go to a gay wedding.” Boy, how did he ever get that idea? Hillary, who ditched Arkansas for New York, pretends not to understand: “the politics of cultural identity and resentment were overwhelming evidence, reason, and personal experience.”
Hillary hasn’t even matured beyond her days as a brat at Wellesley who looked down upon Nixon-supporting hard hats. It was this infantile, egocentric liberalism that led her into the “deplorables” gaffe which she still can’t quite bring herself to regret. She continues to call Republican voters racists and libels Reagan (“It was no accident that Ronald Reagan launched his general election campaign near Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers had been murdered in 1964”).
The book rests on the absurd conceit that Americans chose a demagogue over a brave “policy wonk” unwilling to stoke the “rage” of the American people. This from a candidate who hired 4,400 people to push every special interest button imaginable. The book contains no evidence of any mental superiority. Hillary, like other pretentious baby boomers, thinks quoting books she hasn’t read and putting the platitudes of Maya Angelou and other “big names” (at the beginning of chapters) makes her deep. It only confirms her essential emptiness.
It is obvious from the windy acknowledgments that she relied upon a raft of ghostwriters to cobble the book together. The words are theirs; the whining is hers. One of the more extraordinary whines revolves around the media. She never once admits the enormous advantage she enjoyed as a result of an endless anti-Trump feeding frenzy. Instead, she bleats about those few moments when the media treated her with skepticism. Similarly, she rants and raves about Russia and Comey while ignoring that the only government we know with certainty that tried to tip the election was hers (there is no mention of the Obama administration’s political espionage against Trump).
In the closing stretch of the book, Hillary wallows in her self-pity, even lashing out at the founding fathers for the “archaic fluke” of the electoral college. She says that she “takes responsibility” for her defeat, then absolves herself of any in a fit of finger-pointing. In the end, she consoles herself with explanations she considers beyond her control. There is a lot of muttering about a nebulous “gender” anxiety. She even fantasizes about chewing out young women who didn’t vote for her.
But in between sips of chardonnay and alternate nostril breathing, Hillary takes pride in her status as the “first woman in U.S. history to become the presidential nominee of a major political party” and longs for that day when Americans no longer value “hypermasculine, aggressive behavior.”