Last year’s presidential election, which saw underdog Donald Trump defeat overwhelming favorite Hillary Clinton, was unique for multiple reasons. We saw the two most unpopular presidential candidates in history against each other, one being the first woman nominated by a major party. It was also only the fifth time the popular vote winner lost in the electoral college. Another factor adding to the unique nature of the race was the overwhelming underdog status of Trump. Virtually no pundits or prognosticators gave Trump even a puncher’s chance of winning. Huffington Post gave Hillary a 98.2% chance of winning the election. Renowned election statistician Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, came under fire from other pollsters by giving Clinton only a 71.4% chance of winning, even to the point of being accused of “putting his thumb on the scales” in favor of Trump.
Then came election day.
In the aftermath of Trump’s shocking, albeit wide, electoral college win, many on the left were sent looking for answers as to how Clinton could have possibly lost. It is common for political parties to write a post-mortem in the aftermath of an election. These write ups, which often come from both sides, include statistical and demographical information, reasons for successes and failures, and an action plan moving forward. In other words, an election post mortem is a common ‘ex post facto’ organizational memo.
In the months following the election, we’ve heard a handful of reasons for Clinton’s loss, including: misogynistic voters, Russian spying and influence, Wikileaks revelations regarding the unflattering practices of the DNC, and FBI Director James Comey’s announcement about reopening the investigation into Clinton’s private email server, among others. The one place Democrats and the left seem to be placing no blame whatsoever is with Hillary Clinton herself. This is not universally true, as there have been some on the left willing to lay the blame at the feet of Clinton, but these are a clear minority.
Earlier today, while speaking at a Women for Women International event, Hillary Clinton made no bones about who, or what, was to blame for her stunning loss to Trump and, in case you were wondering, it isn’t her.
While Clinton said she takes “absolute personal responsibility” for losing to Trump, she did not assign any blame to her strategy or staff. Nor did she point to her own weaknesses as a candidate or the struggles by her and her team to understand the angry mood of key parts of the electorate.
Instead, Clinton said a range of external forces were responsible for her surprise defeat. She said she was a victim of misogyny and unfair treatment by the news media. And she said she was confident that she was on track to winning the election until two things reversed her momentum: the release of campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, which were allegedly stolen by Russian hackers, and Comey’s Oct. 28 letter to Congress that he had reopened the bureau’s investigation into her use of a private email server.
More than three months of personal introspection by walking in the woods and Hillary Clinton still sees her election loss as no fault of her own. She may pay lip service to taking “absolute personal responsibility”, but in reality, she blames her election loss entirely on Russian boogeymen, Wikileaks, misogyny, and the FBI.
The problem is that Russian agent interference doesn’t explain why Clinton refused to step foot in the state of Wisconsin during the campaign. Also, blaming Wikileaks and the FBI for revealing that the DNC unfairly stacked the deck for Clinton against her popular primary challenger Bernie Sanders and the potential illegality of housing a private email server as Secretary of State, respectively, looks terrible. It’s like finding incriminating evidence of your spouse’s infidelity on their phone and being yelled at for looking at the phone in the first place. No apologies for the actual infidelity or wrongdoing, just manipulation and blame shifting. Perhaps that is a fitting election post-mortem for Hillary Clinton, after all.