Just as the media are filled with news of a book about life in the Trump White House, I offer my review of What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
This was given to me as a Christmas present. I found it to be a fascinating read. I suppose I should qualify that by stating at once that I am a sucker for anything to do with politics, even American politics. Other people become ecstatic about sport, obsessing about the fortunes of a particular football team or tennis player. For me, politics is my sport; I care as much about government policies as others do about the application of the off-side rule. Newsnight and Question Time mean far more to me than Match of the Day ever could. So to read about the ups and downs – and in Hillary’s case it was mostly downs – of an election campaign, is a delight on a par with reading about Andy Murray’s Grand Slam disappointments and successes.
But there is much more to this book than an account of the 2016 presidential election and the mistakes she admits having made. This is a self-portrait of someone who has dedicated herself to a life of public service and of attempting to create the conditions in which her fellow citizens can prosper and achieve their full potential.
From radical student politics in the late 1960s, through advocacy for the under-privileged as an attorney, to her period as Secretary of State in president Obama’s first administration and, finally, her campaign to become the first woman president of the USA, she has never shirked from what she sees as her Christian duty to serve the greater good of mankind.
Those ubiquitous e-mails
There is a lot about the e-mail saga and the way it monopolised media coverage of the election, despite extensive evidence that she had done nothing wrong. All her predecessors at the State Department used their personal e-mail accounts for official business, as did her successor at first. When published, the e-mails showed only that she was someone who cared deeply about the welfare of the staff for whom she felt responsible. State secrets were not shared via e-mails on that account, nor anywhere else. And yet the media and her opponent refused to let go of the accusation that she was corrupt and dishonest. Finally, when the scandal seemed to have abated and her ratings were on the rise, the head of the FBI, for reasons best known to himself, chose to revisit the subject with unwarranted insinuations that made many voters uneasy about supporting her.
From unguarded remarks taken out of context, to decisions to respond – or not – to specific accusations from her opponent, she takes full personal responsibility for any short-comings in the campaign. And she is eager to learn, and to pass on the lessons learned, from these mistakes.
She was sustained throughout the campaign, and in her efforts to overcome the disappointment of failure, by her Methodist faith and the example of her mother, the product of a broken home, neglected by the grandparents who brought her up, who, nevertheless, grew up to experience the ‘American Dream’ and to pass on the same Christian values to her daughter.
I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like to have to listen to taunts of ‘Crooked Hillary’ and ‘Lock her up’ from her opponents, knowing she had done nothing wrong and sought only to better the lives of her fellow citizens. To her credit she has little to say about such things, concentrating instead on the policy proposals that never gained a proper hearing in the media, buried under the relentless e-mail fake news stories which she contends – she presents evidence in support of the claim – were orchestrated by Vladimir Putin and Wikileaks.
There will be many who will claim that she is part of the conspiracy by the wealthy elites to remove the hard earned assets of the poor. I believe that the opposite is the truth. When she says that her intention is to reverse that trend, I believe her.
As a Liberal I am in no doubt that there are two elites and that many on the political left fail to make the distinction. There is indeed an elite that seeks to amass great wealth with little thought to the people who are hurt in the process. Those are the corporate entities, and their owners, who fund the Republican Party in the USA, and advocate for Britain’s exit from the European Union, in order to remove, or substantially reduce, regulations intended to protect consumers and workers. They have the majority of media outlets in their corner. They deny the evidence of man made climate change as vigorously as they once denied the link between tobacco and lung cancer.
But there are, too, the ‘Liberal elites’ that the political right, supported by the bulk of the media, characterises as being out of touch with the realities of life as experienced by ordinary people, supporting policies that help minorities at the expense of the majority.
It is true that such individuals use their wealth to support a plethora of charitable causes and, in government, they do advocate measures that benefit the disadvantaged. But that does not mean they are not sympathetic to the plight of those who feel left out when minorities gain rights that others take for granted. As Hillary Clinton points out towards the end of her book, a way has to be found to demonstrate that seeking equality for all does not have to mean a race to the bottom. Rather, we need to make clear that lifting the downtrodden benefits us all in the long run.
I feel bound to add one other factor that looms large in the book, as it did through the campaign. Hillary believes herself to have been fortunate to have reached maturity at a time when the women’s movement was at its commencement. As a female lawyer in the 1970s she was a rarity, someone people came to look at out off curiosity. And much of her campaign strategy in 2016 seems to have concentrated on the significance of breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ and the idea that a woman could become president acting as an inspiration to girls and young women. I can’t help wondering if that emphasis on the feminist aspect of the campaign put off some potential voters, both men and women, who are deeply suspicious of the movement.
12 thoughts on “Not At All Crooked Hillary”
Writing to you from the US. First, thanks for this review. It has become apparent, over time, that the primary cause of HRC’s defeat was a disturbing combination of racism and misogyny. Highly recommend a book called “Democracy in Chains,” which shows that the reason DJT is now president goes all the way back to the 1950s, when rich white men decided they were going to defy the Brown v. Board of Education decision and start training politicians to support racist policies. DJT spoke directly to that mindset, because he has it himself.
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Hillary would not disagree with your analysis. She has a whole section on the subject of racism. Whllst she regrets her ‘deplorables’ comment, she cites statistics about voter demographics that clearly demonstrate that the Obama years generated a backlash and retrenchment of racism. She quotes a political science professor at the University of Washington: “Every period of racial progress in this country has been followed by a period of retrenchment That’s what the 2016 election was about.”
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I followed that election campaign fairly closely and based primarily on the Clinton’s campaign against Bernie Sanders, it’s a definite “thumbs down” for Clinton from me. It is a known fact that many criminals, once convicted and sent to jail suddenly “find Jesus” or “God” or “Allah” and they go through a period of open self examination to convince all and sundry that they have changed. Scrooge, having faced death in his vision wakes up saying, “I’m not the man I was… I’m not…” and because it’s pure fiction, he does change. Clinton is a two-faced hypocrite of the highest order doing all in her power to win that election (of course) and now it’s time to put on fresh makeup. So? Write a book. Unfortunately for her, two things can be known about Americans in general: they would never elect a woman president, nor a black man. Which goes a long way to expose the machinations that go on behind the scenes considering a “black man” was ostensibly elected. But we know now that Obama (or as he’s affectionately dubbed, “Obomber” the drone king) was positioned to hand out billions to billionaires, and to expand destabilization wars in the Greater Middle East and Africa as well as heavily promoting Monsanto and GMO’s as his EPA policy changes indicate. That was the agenda behind Obama’s installation as president and that agenda would have greatly speeded-up under Clinton. But Trump would serve just as well, and cost less to install. Ultimately, Dems or Reps, what rules is corruption. What results is unchecked poverty and war deaths between stacks of greenbacks rising to the heavens.
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I expected no less from you, Sha’Tara. However, there was no sudden conversion in Hillary’s case. She was brought up in a Christian environment and attended a Methodist college. As for behind the scenes machinations to get Obama to do corporate bidding – that’s just another conspiracy theory like all the rest.
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For me, although I am unashamedly a conspiracy theorist simply because it is the only way to arrive at any truth, a conspiracy theory ends when it is proven true. Obama left a blazing trail of Middle East blood and tears and open support for Monsanto and Big Pharma by stacking the FDA with individuals who had been corporate lobbyists. I have the information in my files but I don’t have the time to dig it up right now. Some of it can definitely be found on Jon Rappoport’s website, and he would have the links there for you.
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Interesting piece, Frank. I confess to knowing little about American politics, though it often seems as though their electorate has a choice between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. (Not saying that our choices are particularly wonderful at the moment, either!). I can see why people would vote for Trump, though Clinton struck me as a more statesperson-like alternative and, given the current playground politics I think that’s probably right. The ‘right’ and ‘left’ are of course complex; not only are there plenty of so-called liberals who are bigots and highly conservative, there are also many who may be classed as ‘right’ who are progressive and have social-democratic blood in their veins too. Politics has become so polarised and ANGRY. It’s a pity we can’t abolish the labels and start afresh!
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Thanks for the comment, Mike (is that right? I couldn’t read your signature on your ‘about’ page!) I agree that politics has become very polarised and very angry in recent years. Not sure how we work our way out of it though.
Ban intolerance; I can’t stand intolerance. Well done on reading the signature, though the ‘About’ page actually introduces me at the start, rather than the end…I know it’s a bit old-fashioned… 🙂
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Thank you for posting this review, Frank. I didn’t read the book, because I didn’t like the manner in which Clinton campaigned against Sanders, and I despised the DNC’s corrupt dealings to ensure that Sanders lost the nomination ~ dealings of which Clinton was aware. She learned a hard lesson; but when all is said and done, I believe her to be a caring person who espouses to serving the greater good. She was the victim of gender prejudice and several unfortunate events. Your review is in-depth and well-written. I hope you posted it to Amazon.
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I actually didn’t post it anywhere else (yet). I thought there would probably be more than enough reviews there from people much better qualified than me to do so! Maybe I will.
Howdy from the South, Frank. First time reading your blog sir, very much looking to reading your book on the Irish Potato famine. I’m going to download that puppy now.
Anyway as far as HRC losing, let me just say THANK THE GOOD LORD!
Just an awful candidate, awful person with horrible ideas. I guess I must be a racist, misogynist for saying that. Yeah, 20 years ago, that might have bothered me. No more though.
The sting of being called an XYZ because I hold a different view has long ago left me.
I must say I chuckle at the person in these comments who say we should ban intolerance. Not sure where that comes from by why is the first thing many, particularly on the left, want to do with something they don’t like is always “BAN IT!”
Never understood that.
I say legalize EVERYTHING. Something offends you, avoid it. Problem solved. Easy as pie.
It’s always good to hear alternative viewpoints. So thanks for your comment. I’d be delighted to hear why you feel the way you do about HRC, especially the ideas you regard as ‘horrible’. I hope you find my book about the Irish famine interesting. Do you have Irish ancestors?