Here’s where the book kind of…rubs me the wrong way. I’ve heard some criticism of her book that it was a bit tone deaf, and I think that it shows in this chapter. The thesis that I seem to glean from this chapter is this “you were asking me the wrong questions.” That’s a statement that I have trouble swallowing. Yes, it’s true that as Secretary of State Clinton had to deal with a lot of foreign policy. But being president is about more than foreign policy. Clinton mentions that she “was rarely asked about anything beyond domestic issues.” But…domestic issues are important too. A common belief is that we should take care of ourselves first before dealing with other countries. That’s not to align with “America First”. That’s a term that really has some complex implications that I really don’t want to go into. This isn’t congress, just a blog. But my point is that it’s a bit dismissive towards Americans’ concerns to fault those who want to focus on domestic policy.
I acknowledge that the focus on Clinton’s email issues would be frustrating for her on the campaign trail. To reiterate the same points over and over must be infuriating. But I can see where the frustration on the part of the public comes from. The email scandal was just…murky? And of course the scandal itself did cause this sort of feedback loop. The more it was covered, the bigger of a deal it seemed to be, and the harder it was to believe the apologies that have already happened. In my personal experience, a lot of people just didn’t know what was going on with the whole email scandal. And it’s pretty much human nature to fill in the blanks of something we don’t understand.
That being said, I wonder if Clinton considered the effect that the difficult political situations that she has dealt with in the past would have on her image as a candidate. It would be reasonable to claim that Clinton was too immersed in scandals to be a good choice for a presidential candidate. Consider the reasons that many people favored Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. They represented a deviation from the political establishment that many people across the political spectrum were frustrated with. And this is coming from someone who voted for Clinton in the general election.
Clinton also goes into a rather personal attack on Bernie Sanders. I get that she disagrees with Sanders’ politics. I get that she doesn’t agree with his socialist stance. But she seemed to paint Sanders as a reckless politician. She accuses him of violating a promise between them to avoid personal attacks. But she claims that criticizing her association with corporate money, which was one of the cornerstones of his campaign. That’s not really a personal attack. Her criticism of some Bernie Sanders supporters’ harassment of her supporters was valid. That’s something that many Clinton and Sanders supporters agree on. But I think that a lot of her criticism of Sanders was sort of dismissive.
No candidate is perfect. Every candidate has something about them that even their supporters wouldn’t approve of. Blind support of a candidate is dangerous. This chapter represents some of the aspects of Clinton, who I did support, that I was frustrated with. She sets up a few strawman arguments, she inflates some of the arguments against her. And she keeps talking about her hypothetical first 100 days in office. This chapter seems to be where Clinton vented a lot of her frustrations regarding the primary campaign in particular. Some of her points seem rather tone deaf, but it is an illuminating perspective into the mind of someone who has been so involved in politics for so long.