Richard Nixon may have been the most reviled President of the United States, but at least he could accept defeat. The same cannot be said of Hillary Clinton.
Nixon ran a good campaign in 1960, against John F Kennedy, a candidate who, primarily because of his good looks and young family, became a darling of the media and celebrity class.
The 1960 race was one of the tightest. Kennedy won 34,226,731 votes and Nixon 34,108,157. Kennedy won 303 electoral college votes to Nixon’s 219. There was evidence of voting fraud in Illinois where Kennedy money and connections to Mayor Richard Daley are alleged to have swung that important state.
Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Lyndon Johnson had orchestrated rampant black arts in his home state of Texas. Yet for all this Nixon kept quiet, conceded gracefully and came back to win again in 1968.
Perhaps it is the fact that she will never get to run again but Hillary Clinton simply cannot accept defeat to Donald Trump. It is one of the most unappealing characteristics that can be found in a politician, the inability to accept defeat. She would be best advised to keep quiet from here on in. But one of the many reasons that she lost the US Presidential election of 2016 is that she will not, cannot listen to advise.
Another reason she lost was that she was a very bad candidate. And she had many other unappealing characteristics that contributed. But now, in blaming everybody and everything else for her defeat she is displaying the primary reason the American people decided she should not be president – she will not accept responsibility for her actions. In short, she does not display leadership.
Mrs. Clinton gave her first major interview since her November defeat at an event for the global charity Women for Women International on Tuesday. When asked by interviewer Christiane Amanpour of CNN whether she accepted responsibility for the defeat she said, unconvincingly, "absolutely." She then went on to blame the FBI, Russia, sexism and even the date of the election for her defeat.
‘‘I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey's letter of October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off,'' she said.
FBI Director Comey announced in October that he would reopen an investigation into her email server. There were disclosures on WikiLeaks about her conduct as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State. The media have linked Russia to those disclosures but not provided any proof. Comey must be doing something right as Trump is equally critical of him.
The sense of entitlement and delusion dripped from Mrs. Clinton. She said if the election had been held on October 27, ‘‘I would be the president."
She said of sexism; ‘‘I do think it played a role.''
But what shone through is her enduring hatred for President Donald Trump.
The 69-year-old said: ‘‘I'm now back to being an activist citizen and part of the resistance [to Trump]."
Trump, who is now of course in the Big Job, can easily dismiss such nonsense. Late night tweets, as always, are used to fight back.
During the campaign Hillary allowed her disdain and disregard for Trump to cloud her ability to view him as a formidable foe. Even with the knowledge gained in 35 years of politics she allowed her arrogance, entitlement and hot favoritism to divert her from focusing.
Those who work in politics will tell you that the longer you’re in it the more you understand that it is a purely a numbers game. You must discover where your votes are and get as many of those votes as you can.
The people who run elections don’t just send their candidates blindly out into the vastness of the United States. Hillary’s bitterness appears to be fueled by focusing on the wrong figures. Her supporters repeatedly refer to the fact that President Trump gained 62,984,825 votes. Mrs. Clinton won 65,853,516, nearly three million more than Trump.
But like her Trump had professionals running his campaign. As Trump has pointed out, presidential candidates focus on the states where they can win. Two of the most populous states are New York and California. And they usually vote Democratic.
Take New York; it has not voted Republican since Ronald Reagan in the 1984 election (53% - 45%). It has only voted for six Republican presidential candidates since the Great Depression. No Republican candidate had made an effort there since George HW Bush in 1988. There are 5,792,497 registered Democratic voters in New York, and there are 2,731,688 Republicans.
And Hillary is a former US Senator for New York. Even though there were 29 electoral college votes at play, native New Yorker Donald Trump didn’t bother campaigning there. Similarly, he stayed out of California.
Trump scientifically targeted electoral college votes. A number of electoral college’s votes are apportioned to each state relative to their population. New York, with a population of nearly 20 million has 29 electoral colleges. Wyoming, with a population of less than 600,000 has 3.
Trump concentrated on the states where he believed he could win. He took Texas, 38 electoral colleges, and Florida with 29. But the rust belt states were in play. He knew it and she didn’t.
Trump won 304 electoral colleges she won 227. That’s the system and he beat it.
It was reported in the final days of the election that the old warhorse, former President Bill Clinton saw a huge gap in Hillary’s campaign. She was taking the blue collar working Democrats for granted, and Trump was playing on their insecurities.
She and her professional team believed they had Wisconsin and Michigan in the bag. Traditional Democratic voters would take them over the line in these Democratic states. In an extraordinary error, Hillary did not return to campaign in Wisconsin after the Democratic convention in July.
On Wednesday, reacting to Hillary’s criticisms of James Comey, Obama’s former advisor said: "Jim Comey didn't tell her not to campaign in Wisconsin after the convention."
He continued: “Jim Comey didn't say 'don't put any resources into Michigan until the final week of the campaign.”
Bill Clinton told Hillary and her team to get on the ground in Michigan and they didn’t.
A new book that chronicles Clinton’s campaign from beginning to end will be published in Europe later this month, “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton‘s Doomed Campaign”. It says “no explanation of defeat can begin with anything other than the core problem of Hillary’s campaign — Hillary herself.”
She is described as a sore loser, who points the finger at everybody else and will not accept mistakes.
This impression was palpable during her campaign – that she felt she knew better than everybody else about most everything.
A fatal blindspot in her vision was her predecessor Obama. Barack Obama had won two elections, rising from relative obscurity. He was a mold breaker, a pioneer, he was the first black President of the United States. The joy he brought to the oppressed by this achievement was not matched by endeavor and achievement.
He could not work with Congress. His Obamacare plan was watered down and hasn’t brought many of lower income families under the health insurance umbrella. He spent eight years trying to get gun control and got nowhere near achieving it. But he did not connect with ordinary Democrat blue collar workers. He was seen as austere and elitist.
Hillary was up against a candidate who had captured the zeitgeist. Trump would stand up to an elitist “do nothing” Washington establishment. He would bring back economic growth and bring jobs.
America stagnated under Obama. GDP growth was 2.1 percent - the fourth-lowest growth rate of any president and below the postwar average of 2.9 percent. The job growth rate during his administration came to only one percent.
There are of course many arguments against these claims and economic underperformance by Obama’s supporters. But Hillary didn’t articulate them. Trump created the impression that she was standing for the status quo, and the failed status quo that Obama had propagated. And she did not dismiss it.
I met Hillary Clinton on a number of occasions. Her husband, Bill's pivotal role in the Irish peace process, meant he traveled to my home country often, as did she. And as a Democrat, she had a special affinity with Ireland (the Irish American vote used to be firmly Democrat). As a journalist, those meetings were usually fleeting. But ten years ago I was in Washington on St Patrick’s Day I, and a small group bumped into her in the corridor on Capitol Hill. When she discovered we were Irish, she took us into an anteroom for a long, informal chat. She was warm and extremely likable. She also had a mischievous sense of humor.
But she didn’t get any of this personality across in her run for the Democratic ticket in 2008 (when she lost out to Obama) or the 2016 Presidential bid.
She came across as strident and hectoring. She espoused the status quo, the maintenance of a broken system.
Yet it is the Democratic Party that ultimately allowed her to become a candidate, even after she had lost out to Obama in 2008.
The party appears to have made no attempts at reform. During that visit in 2007 I also met Leader of the House Nancy Pelosi. She’s still there.
Ms Pelosi, 77, is now the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, and nominal leader of the national Democratic Party. The appointment of a 77-year-old from uber Liberal California hardly indicates a revolution in the Democrat party. This does not look like the party has analyzed its failings either.
Hillary Clinton could depart gracefully, paint her legacy as a hugely successful pioneering woman who made it to the US Senate and the high office of Secretary of State. She could rightfully claim that large sections of conservative America just weren’t prepared to accept a woman president yet.
Even Richard Nixon restored his reputation somewhat.
Instead she is becoming known as a sore loser, and that is just sullying her legacy further.
John Lee is the political editor and columnist at the Mail on Sunday (Ireland edition).
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