Almost everyone agrees the election of 2016 was one for the ages. It pitted a reality TV star with billions in the bank and no political experience against a former first lady, secretary of state and senator from New York.
The debates were wild, both during the primaries and the general election. Campaign themes never before uttered took center stage. A woman won the nomination of a major political party for the first time. And the result was an upset of epic proportions.
But the wildest thing of all may have been the political coalition that formed to put Donald Trump over the top. The FBI was in on it, as was its director, James Comey. The Russians definitely had a hand in it, as did their leader, Vladimir Putin.
Then there were the anti-American forces and the low-information voters and the Macedonian data farms. And Facebook, Twitter, fake news, cable news, Netflix, misogynists, suburban women, news executives and the New York Times. There was imbalance in the media and voter suppression in Wisconsin. Both the Democratic and Republican parties were in on it, as was President Barack Obama.
One can only imagine how this group ever got anything done, but it must have been effective.
Because although Hillary Clinton says she takes full responsibility for her loss to Trump last November, she has blamed each member of this most unlikely coalition for her defeat at some point in the intervening months.
Comey would not even have investigated her use of a private server if it weren’t for Putin, Russian spies, collusion with the Trump campaign and those misogynistic Macedonian data farmers.
He certainly would not have announced on Oct. 28 that he was looking at additional emails Clinton had refused to turn over, only to return two days later and say he had found nothing in them that was not already known.
“If the election were held on Oct. 27, I would be your president,” she actually said.
As for Obama, he is a “very attractive, good-looking man” and “likable enough…[m]ore than,” according to Hillary. But, in what had to be the first strategic move of the 2016 cycle — and what a move it proved to be — Obama went and got himself elected twice.
He had to know this would curb voter enthusiasm when she came along … and infect Democrats with a sense of inevitability that would cause her party to slack off on data, get-out-the-vote work and financial support. I mean, it’s been obvious — before and since the election — that Obama really likes Trump and is looking for ways to help him.
This is what Clinton is asking us to believe. She has come up with more than 20 people or institutions to blame for the loss for which she claims to take full responsibility. She seethed that Trump could call into any political talk show on any network and be put on the air immediately. Would they have not taken her call?
Clinton, like a lot of people on the Left, just can’t accept that Trump actually became president. And, to be sure, things happen during campaigns that are beyond the control of the candidates, and how they play with voters is a wild card in many elections.
But if Clinton truly wants to identify the causes of her loss, she needs to look in the mirror. What was her message? To Michael Bloomberg, a staunch supporter, it seemed to be, “Vote for me because I am a woman and the other guy’s bad.” Which makes that misogyny claim all the more strange.
Then there is the email server. Clinton called it a “nothing burger” and never tired of pointing out she has not been indicted despite decades of investigations into her business and political dealings. But the nothing burger was huge to voters precisely because it proved what all those investigations never quite could — that she lies, engages in carefully worded double-talk, and is out for no one but herself.
Finally, she believed all that talk about the blue wall in the midwest. She never visited Wisconsin and ignored calls for more resources from the state organizations of Michigan and Pennsylvania.
It could be that voters found out precisely what they needed to know about Clinton and rejected her. Both of her presidential campaigns were dysfunctional nightmares, with poor management, misdirected resources, high-profile mistakes, lack of focus or reason to vote for the candidate other than her gender, and rivalries and schemes.
She wasn’t prepared. She didn’t assess threats correctly. She could not negotiate. That’s what presidents do. And that’s why she lost.
Ford O’Connell (@FordOConnell) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is an adjunct professor at The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, worked on John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, and authored the book “Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery.”
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