Pointing fingers at several high-powered members of her party, Hillary Clinton’s new campaign blame book is settling old scores and making new enemies.
Excerpts from “What Happened,” which is scheduled to be released next week, have been circulating throughout news and social media sites. Those few pages of Clinton’s tell-all tome show the famously failed candidate letting loose on the Democratic Party’s most popular figures and venting frustration with a process that culminated in her shocking defeat by Donald J. Trump.
In the book, Clinton says she was put in a “straight jacket” during the primary by former President Obama, who she writes advised her not to attack Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), her rival in the Democratic primary, out of fear it would divide the Party ahead of the general election.
Clinton openly questions former Vice President’s Joe Biden’s assessment that the Democrats did not focus on the middle class during the campaign.
“Joe Biden said the Democratic Party in 2016 ‘did not talk about what it always stood for — and that was how to maintain a burgeoning middle class,’” Clinton wrote, noting, “I find this fairly remarkable, considering that Joe himself campaigned for me all over the Midwest and talked plenty about the middle class,” referring to comments made by Biden in which he criticized Democrats’ strategy to win over working-class voters.
When it comes to Sanders, Clinton mocks his policy proposals as pie-in-the-sky fantasies and calls his supporters sexist. She also blames him for having caused “lasting damage” to the Democratic Party and says that he laid the foundation for “[Donald] Trump’s ‘Crooked Hillary’ campaign.”
Sanders brushed off Clinton’s criticism in a Wednesday interview with The Hill, saying it’s time for Democrats to “look forward, not backward.” But others weren’t so nice about it.
“The best thing she could do is disappear,” said one former Clinton ally to The Hill. “She’s doing harm to all of us because of her own selfishness. Honestly, I wish she’d just shut the f— up and go away.”
Since her loss, Clinton has thrown shade in a lot of different directions, having blamed everyone from Russian hackers to former FBI Director James Comey for her defeat. She also blames sexism, which is her ultimate complaint against the American people… along with gullibility. But she doesn’t say much about her own role in losing the election.
“None of this is good for the Party,” said one former Obama aide. “It’s the Hillary Show, 100 percent. A lot of us are scratching our heads and wondering what she’s trying to do. It’s certainly not helpful.”
The book threatens to once again anger Sanders’ energetic base, many of whom have already been alienated from the Democratic Party after emails released by Russian-backed hackers showed Democratic National Committee staffers undermined Sanders’ bid during the primary.
“Democrats, and all voters, can take a look at the two different visions, ably articulated, by the two Democratic finalists,” said progressive activist and writer Jonathan Tasini. “One person has been out in the country, almost without stopping, since the election, rallying people to defend ObamaCare, against tax cuts for the wealthy and for a $15 minimum wage. The other person, while Trump has been ripping the country apart, has been taking long walks in the woods, drinking chardonnay, hobnobbing with celebrities and writing a book that entirely ignores the failure of the party establishment over a decade or two. People can choose which kind of party they prefer.”
Of course, there are some who still believe in Clinton, including Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), who offered praise for her experience and “matriarchal capability,” pointing out that she was the first lady of Arkansas, the first lady of the country, a United States senator and secretary of state. “Hard to find any elected Democratic woman who has had her status, and over such a long period of time,” he admired.
Others, such as Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, just feel sorry for Clinton. “This was a heartfelt loss for her and the pain is unimaginable, and I’m sure this book was cathartic,” he commiserated.
Still, some Democrats agree with Clinton’s views. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) recalled predicting early on that Bernie Sanders’ “run was going to divide us more than unite us.” He noted, “And I think I was proven correct. I think she was right substantially about Bernie, but it’s done.”
Other Democrats are calling her book a distraction from the Party’s efforts to move on in the new normal.
“The morning after the election I wrote on Facebook that we needed to all own our part and focus on the road ahead,” said Democratic strategist Steve Schale, who attempted to draft Biden into the 2016 race. “I still believe this, and the sooner we stop talking about 2016, all of us on my side, and get to work on the real organizing required for 2018, the better off we will be not only in the midterm elections but also in 2020.”
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