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Hillary Clinton: her part in her downfall (book review of How I Lost By Hillary Clinton annotated by Joe Lauria)

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Decorah, Iowa, January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The single biggest mystery of the 2016 election is why anyone was surprised that Hillary Clinton lost.

Even from faraway London it was obvious to me that she was a terrible candidate who the American people didn’t like and didn’t trust but who the US political elite – which in this context also means the US media – was trying to force on the American people against their wishes.

Unsurprisingly this provoked a reaction, which is why Hillary Clinton lost.

There is no reason to introduce meddling by Russia or the ham fisted and misunderstood interventions of James Comey to explain this.

A book – How I Lost By Hillary Clinton – with a foreword by Julian Assange and introduced and annotated by Joe Lauria (a contributor to The Duran) sets this all out in a way that makes it all perfectly clear.

What makes this book so compelling – and in my opinion what makes it the single best and most interesting book that has so far appeared about the 2016 election – is that explains the phenomenon of Hillary Clinton in her own words.  What Joe Lauria has done is provide selections of things actually said by Hillary Clinton and her associates which make it completely obvious why the American people don’t trust or like her.

The Hillary Clinton who emerges from the pages of this book is a fascinating person.

Firstly it should be said that Hillary Clinton undoubtedly does possess to a very high degree many of the qualities required by a successful politician.  She is tough, extremely clever, and worldly.  However this goes along with being cynical, money oriented to an extreme, and to being manipulative with an overwhelming sense of entitlement.

The single quality which however comes out most strongly of all is however the extraordinary extent of Hillary Clinton’s self-identification as a member of the US elite, and her political identification with the causes of that US elite, especially the financial elite concentrated on Wall Street, and the foreign policy and security elite of the US government in Langley and Foggy Bottom, which she appears to see as her key political constituencies.

The result is that though Hillary Clinton pitches herself as a progressive politician I struggle to find anything in the book which marks her out as genuinely progressive.

On the two central issues which most concern most Americans – the overwhelming power of the US’s financial services industry with the distorting effect this is having on the US economy and on US society, and the US’s hyper-aggressive post-Cold War foreign policy, which has resulted in working class Americans being forced into fighting foreign wars of no fundamental concern or interest to the US – she straightforwardly supports the elite view and the status quo.

Moreover what is even more troubling is that reading Hillary Clinton’s words I for one get the strong impression of someone who holds to these positions not out of any deep sense of conviction but because she thinks that is where power in the US lies, and she wants to align herself with it.

Perhaps in some part of Hillary Clinton’s past there was a person who was a genuine progressive who had the belief that if she played along with the elite they would let her do some progressive things for the actual benefit of the mass of Americans.  If that person ever existed she does so no longer as Hillary Clinton today has come straightforwardly not only to identify with the elite but to claim to be one of them.

This attitude goes hand in hand with strong habits of secrecy and duplicity.

The two of course go together.  It is understandable that Hillary Clinton does not want the great mass of Americans to know what she says in confidential highly paid speeches to the her wealthy friends – the bankers of Goldman Sachs – or what the Clinton Foundation gets up to.

As to the latter, as Joe Lauria says it is difficult to put a finger on any actual wrongdoing involving it, but in a sense the mere fact that immense sums of money are being paid into it by all sorts of wealthy and powerful people from around the world speaks for itself.

Whilst on the subject of the Clinton Foundation I would add that the media’s indifference to its activities – of which voluminous public records exist – contrasts strangely with the media’s obsessive interest in Donald Trump’s businesses and his supposed financial dependence on the Russians for which no evidence exists.

Some politicians have the sort of outgoing confident personality and charm that would enable them to pull of the trick of having a double persona of a progressive populist and of being a self-identifying elitist at one and the same time.  Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton’s husband, is a case in point.

Hillary Clinton however is emphatically not such a person.  Though the book shows that she does have a sense of humour, it comes across as confiding, of the sort which makes jokes to be shared between friends.  About herself Hillary Clinton far from being confident comes across instead as prickly and defensive.

This leads into one of Hillary Clinton’s most unpleasant characteristics, her habit of blaming everyone but herself when things go wrong.

The result is that she is emphatically not a graceful or a good loser.  One of the revelations of the book is that she only conceded to Donald Trump on election night when President Obama told her to do so.

This inability to accept blame or take criticism goes had in hand with an unpleasant victim complex which draws heavily on the growing distance between herself – the self-identifying elitist – and the American people.

If the American people do not vote for her in Hillary Clinton’s mind it is because they are too stupid, too uneducated, too manipulated, and too prejudiced against her to do so.

During the election some of thos spilled out – as in her now notorious “deplorables” comment (quoted fully in the book) – and it was probably the single thing which more than anything other lost her the election.  By contrast Donald Trump, for all his gargantuan flaws, comes across as liking Americans and being at ease amongst them.

The book incidentally settles the mystery – at least for me – of why as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton broke both protocol and the law by using a private server for her work emails.

Such a secretive and insecure personality would be scarcely likely to do anything else.  That would be so regardless of whether she did it in order to conceal activities involving the Clinton Foundation.

As to that, I know that is what many people believe.  There is no evidence for it.  However if it is what many people believe then because of her conduct Hillary Clinton has no one but herself to blame for it.

During the election the vast majority of the American people would not have been familiar with the details of the things which appear in Joe Lauria’s book.

However Hillary Clinton has been an important figure in US national life since her husband stood for and won the Presidency in 1992.  By the time of the election in 2016 the American people would have come to know her well.  The fact that by the time the election came round they had long since decided that they didn’t like her, in light of her personality which comes across so strongly in the book, is completely unsurprising.

This also makes it totally unsurprising that she lost the election.

Realistically Hillary Clinton’s best chance of winning the election would have been against a Republican opponent who was drawn from the elite like herself.  Against someone like Donald Trump – who played brilliantly on the fact that he was an outsider because he actually is one – she found herself in serious trouble.

If there is nothing at all surprising about the fact that Hillary Clinton lost the election, another puzzle of the 2016 election is why the Democratic Party nominated her as its candidate in the first place.

Even if Bernie Sanders was possibly perceived as too radical by some in the Democratic Party to be the party’s candidate in the election, there were surely other prominent Democrats – such as possibly Obama’s Vice President Joe Biden – who would have filled the role better of Democratic challenger better.  Indeed Biden is now said to be bitter that he did not stand, saying that if he had been the Democratic Party’s candidate for the Presidency he would have won.

The answer to this puzzle also be found in Joe Lauria’s book: Hillary Clinton became the Democratic Party’s candidate for the Presidency because she inherited the mighty political machine created by her husband when he was President, and which has if anything continued to grow in strength since.

The US political system and the Democratic Party especially have always been exceptionally susceptible to manipulation by political machines (think of Tammany Hall or the Richard Daley machine in Chicago) but it is questionable if a political machine as mighty as the one Bill Clinton has created has ever existed before.  Like all political machines it brings together disparate groups – including Wall Street financiers, the Congressional black caucus, many of the leading voices in the LGBT community, prominent US intellectuals etc – but is ultimately cemented together by patronage.

The traces of this machine, and the ruthless way it imposed Hillary Clinton on the Democratic Party, are there throughout Joe Lauria’s book, as in the rigging of the Democratic primaries to freeze out Bernie Sanders, and the inside management of the media to bury stories deemed damaging to Hillary Clinton.

The mere fact that this political machine had settled on Hillary Clinton as its candidate was enough to deter other potential heavyweight Democratic challengers such as Joe Biden from standing, leaving it to Bernie Sanders to run against Hillary Clinton on his own.

The great problem is that this political machine is now become so powerful within the Democratic Party that to all intents and purposes it now is the Democratic Party.  In light of that the party’s dismal record in recent elections is completely unsurprising.  In that respect, as in so many others, Bill and Hillary Clinton cast a long shadow.

In my opinion the single most important individual in US politics over the last year continues to be Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump.

It is Hillary Clinton’s obsessions and frustrations – and the paranoid conspiracy thinking she has fostered – which continues to dominate US politics even as Hillary Clinton herself slips off the political stage.

Given that this is likely to remain the case for some time, Joe Lauria’s book is indispensable reading for anyone interested in understanding this phenomenon.

In that respect it could be the single most enlightening book about US politics today.

What do you think?

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