• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Loyalty To A Lost Cause

September 2017

How long is one to remain loyal to a lost cause? Having recently released her memoir with the self-searching title What Happened?, Hillary Clinton again importunes the American public for an answer to this question. For the more determined adherents to her cause, loyalty has become something of a synonym for perpetuity. Like a matrimonial affair, it’s become a situation of till death do they part. Among those who feel this way, there’s a sense of the atemporal and unconditional—of never letting go. These are the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed liberals whose laptops and windshields still adorn themselves with “I’m with her” stickers and “H’s” pointing to the right. But one must wonder whether or not even these people considered exactly for how long their “I’m with her’s” needed apply, or whether or not they’re having buyer’s remorse r second thoughts.

Since the release of Clinton’s book earlier this week, the former Secretary of State has emerged from her wooded Chappaqua estate in Westchester County, New York. In what’s become her familiar, automatized form, she’s been making the media rounds. After she was interviewed by USA Today’s Susan Page, Clinton appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, The View, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Anderson Cooper 360, as well as on burgeoning left-leaning “new” media platforms like Vox and Pod Save America. The last of which is a podcast hosted by a former—and at one time, adversarial—coterie of Obama staffers. Then, as if that amount of exposure weren’t enough, Clinton will be embarking on what promises to be a lucrative book tour through the liberal hotspots—coastal cities across America and in Canada. Beginning in September, the tour is planned to run through mid-December, giving to all those breathless loyalists a chance to see her. However, as expected, seeing her is not without its price. From just over $100 in Philadelphia to $2,000 in Toronto for a VIP experience, the opportunity to hear Ms. Clinton speak will set you back.

Prices don’t always connote value, though, and for what the tour’s organizers are charging, those deciding on whether or not they’ll attend might be better off keeping closed their purses and wallets. You can always expect a few things from an address by Ms. Clinton. She is, after all, reliably redundant. You’ll hear the same lamentations, the same recriminations, and the same frustrations over and again. You can expect her to be wonky and punctilious, but there’s nothing inspiring in this. It causes much of what she says, however articulately put and empirically based, to fall habitually flat. There’s nothing of the rousing quality of speech that a man like Obama captured in his oratory so well. Nor is there any of the urgency and passion that a woman like Elizabeth Warren evokes. Simply, and for her sake, regrettably, Clinton’s words are shopworn, tired, over-used, and under-nourished.

With that in mind, Clinton’s patrons might be better off forgoing this expense and skipping the tour altogether. Instead of investing further in this “lost cause” (I can conceive of her in no other way) they should be saving their money and planning for the future. They should not, above all, be re-investing time, money, and energy in the past. The congressional mid-terms are fast approaching, and as such, the Democratic Party’s candidates (particularly those vying for office in “purple” districts and states) will need every dollar they can get. If the Democrats hope to see candidates with political pulses succeed next year, and not continue pushing for the failing specter of 2016, they must refocus their attention away from Ms. Clinton. Instead of propping up and dragging on stage her memory, whose political coffin has been long since sealed, they should spend their dollar in the realm of the living.

But still, there are those among us who are inexplicably besotted with what Clinton has to say. Mainly, to this group belongs those people who will be filling her auditoriums. In brief, and this might just save you a week’s paycheck and an hour’s time, Clinton is blaming everyone else for her presidential loss. She seems to have found catharsis in tossing around this blame, rather than soberly analyzing her shortcomings from within. She’s found various scapegoats, upon whose backs the glass ceiling cumbersomely weighs.

To find them, she’s cast a wide net to catch and crucify those whom she believes most responsible for her loss. Most responsible, and for that very reason, most reviled in Clinton’s opinion is former FBI director James Comey. Clinton and Comey’s relationship, though never convivial, was at the very least one defined by mutual respect. It was Comey who, for all intents and purposes, exonerated Clinton in the summer of 2016 after his department’s investigation into her personal e-mail and her damaged computer servers. Overstepping his professional bounds and meddling in the DOJ’s, it was Comey who said that “no reasonable prosecutor” would raise a criminal case against her. This determination was not his to make.

Later, in the midst of an FBI investigation into former New York congressman and incorrigible pedophile Anthony Weiner’s computer for evidence of his crimes, thousands of his wife Huma Abedin’s undisclosed conversations with Clinton surfaced. A long-time Clinton aide, Abedin’s conversations with her boss should’ve been secured and maintained on a proper government server. Clearly, as I’m sure a surprised FBI discovered, they were not. From what began as an investigation into Weiner’s Lolita complex ended in a greater morass.

It was because of this last revelation on Weiner’s computer, Comey announced eleven days prior to the presidential election that he would re-open his investigation. It was at this point Comey played the inopportune role of the interloper. Arguably, he imposed himself where he didn’t belong in bringing his department’s newest finding to the public’s attention. In the minds of many vacillating voters, Comey sowed just enough doubt to turn he who might’ve been a potential Clinton voter into a foot-dragging advocate for Trump. It’s unclear how many people ultimately shifted their support in the wake of Comey’s remark, but Clinton is convinced that she was “shivved” by the former FBI director. While I might not be so bold as to express it in quite those terms, it’s certain that Comey opened and poured salt into a wound at a decisive time just before ballots were cast. That said, it was far from the dagger in the heart that Clinton believed it to have been.

Clinton’s castigation of James Comey is her strongest and her most validated, yet she also lays blame on a hodgepodge of supporting characters. She speaks with scorn when recounting Bernie Sanders’s role in the primary, who she impugns for having siphoned from her cause would-be supporters on the fringes of the left. Sanders’s piquant, albeit largely quixotic pitch to millennials struck a chord to which Clinton wasn’t properly tuned. An idealist to her realist, Sanders talked about universal health care, “Robbin Hood” taxes, and free college education as feasible goals should he be elected. Finding no such vaulting rhetoric and ambition in Clinton, millennials flocked to Sanders (much the way a small bird did upon the septuagenarian’s shoulder). She called his campaign “profoundly frustrating” because, as Clinton rightly said, Sanders cared little that “his math didn’t add up” and that his plans “had no prayer of passing Congress and becoming law”. Nary a qualm on my part, I couldn’t agree more. This is a sober and mature assessment of Sanders, and one well worth keeping in mind as the Vermont Independent continues his meteoric rise, but it’s also uninspiring.

Sure, the winds of impractical promises may have filled and carried Sanders’s sails, even if his ship’s course was set for nonexistent lands, but at least it had momentum. Her campaign was simply adrift in the trite tides of the “same-old” expectations.

Having aspersed both Comey and Sanders in her book, Clinton also took the time to assail Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate whose marginal appeal was never more than that. Most remembered is she for having demanded a recount in multiple Rust Belt states. At the end of the day, Stein received just one percent of the final vote tally, but there are some who think this humble little statistic belies her unaddressed import. It’s now clear that many voters from Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio made the decision to defect from Clinton to Stein. In her book, Clinton calls into question Stein’s sympathies to Russia, by claiming that the Harvard-trained physician attended a dinner hosted by the Kremlin’s propagandistic television network, RT, in 2015. This dinner was the same one infamously and damningly attended by former NSA director Michael Flynn, whom President Trump later fired for his indecorous, though perhaps more aptly put, treasonous relations to Moscow.

Fittingly, this leads to the topic of Russia. It’s on this point that Clinton is perhaps most justified in feeling indignant and as if she’d been made to play with loaded dice. Russia played no small role in what came to be her second and most galling shortcoming in a presidential election. The fact that Russia did not merely attempt to, but so far as we know succeeded in sustaining a social media disinformation campaign the likes of which we’ve not yet seen in the modern age is beyond question. The campaign, crude and insidious though it was, doubtless was effective and Clinton has ample right to be mad about it. Its ultimate aim was to see to her defeat and to this end, Russia’s meddling can’t be overlooked.

There are only so many allowable reasons for a loss. Between James Comey, Russia, Sanders, and Stein (which I’ve taken the opportunity to list in decreasing order of their relevance to her cause), her reasons would appear to have been exhausted. Yet one more facile excuse remains in the barrel. If none of those other scapegoats do the trick, there’s always the crutch of misogyny upon which she can lean. Clinton has continued to blame systemic misogyny as an underlying reason for her loss. She’s wrong to do this. She’s confusing her femininity with her political failures, her X-chromosome with the “X”-factor she so woefully lacked.

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