Twice-defeated presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is back in the news, seemingly determined to remind a populace that is not enamored with President Trump exactly why and how she blew an election that many thought would be a layup. As Cortney wrote yesterday, Mrs. Clinton's publisher has leaked the first "juicy" excerpt from her forthcoming book, What Happened -- in which the one woman in all of America who doesn't seem to understand why she lost will spend hundreds of pages trying to explain why she lost. She's asking the country to pay to join her on a tendentious expedition in blame-storming, the crafting of which more or less amounts to a high-profile personal therapy session. The early buzz-building passage her team is circulating involves Clinton's account of the second presidential debate in St. Louis, where she claims that Trump habitually invaded her personal space. Here's what she writes:
“This is not ok, I thought. It was the second presidential debate and Donald Trump was looming behind me. Two days before, the world heard him brag about groping women. Now we were on a small stage and no matter where I walked he followed me closely, staring at me, making faces. It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled. It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause, and ask everyone watching, “Well, what would you do?” Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say loudly and clearly, “Back up, you creep. Get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women but you can’t intimidate me. So back up.” I chose Option A. I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw me off. I did, however, grip the microphone extra hard.”
A few stray thoughts: (1) I went back and scrolled through the video of that debate, and as usual, Hillary Clinton is lying. It's what she does. Perhaps she felt like Trump was stalking her all over the stage, but he wasn't. For the most part, Trump stood in the immediate vicinity of his assigned chair the entire time, including during the moments that he was supposedly "breathing down" Clinton's neck. Unlike Al Gore's weird decision to walk across the stage and stand right next to George W. Bush at a 2000 debate (earning himself an entertaining, weirded-out nod from Bush), Trump stayed put. Even in his "lurkiest" moments, Trump was basically anchored in the same spot -- in, or adjacent to, his designated turf. And at no point was he close enough for her to feel his breath on her skin. Take a look at this video compilation from USA Today edited to highlight the 'personal space' issue liberals were tweeting about at the time. He may have appeared awkward at times, but he simply wasn't looming over her:
(2) A liberal friend texted me about the excerpt above and highlighted the portion where Clinton says she wishes she could have "hit pause" and asked everyone watching, "what would you do?" He snarked, "the problem with Hillary: She wishes she could have taken a poll during the debate." This is a delightful insight. Rather than just going with what her gut was ostensibly telling her to do (which likely would have backfired because Trump was planted right where he was supposed to be, and probably would have been quick with a rejoinder mocking her misplaced scolding), she fantasizes about running an instant poll or convening a quick focus group. Classic, inauthentic, clunky, calculating Hillary.
(3) What also strikes me about this snippet of the book they've released is that it describes a quintessential L'esprit de l'espalier moment, as the French call it; a perfect comeback that one thinks of too late. She's telling us what she allegedly wished she had done and said at the time. So in this case, it's not "what happened." It's what didn't happen.
(4) As I listened to Hillary's voice in the audio clips as she re-litigated the election, I couldn't help but wonder how much money the GOP might be tempted to spend (they've got quite a lot of it these days) to bribe her publisher to drag out her book tour as long as possible. The biggest reasons why she lost, and why Trump won, are yet again on full display: She's an unlikable, dishonest politician with terrible instincts. The more she's consuming media oxygen, the better it is for the GOP. Republicans can exploit her as a base-motivation bonanza, and the president can again lean her as a detested foil, something he currently lacks. His 61 percent disapproval rating among the electorate that elected him (!) would normally have been fatal. But it wasn't, in large measure, because a whole lot of people were willing to vote for virtually anyone to prevent Hillary Rodham Clinton from becoming the president.
Having her, shall we say, lurking conspicuously in the background our politics is a very special and uniting boon to the opposite party. With any luck, she'll launch her 2020 campaign in October of next year. As we've seen over and over again, despite the liberals' default assumption that there's widespread buyer's remorse on Trump, people just aren't disappointed that Clinton isn't in the White House -- and in a historical anomaly, her dreadful favorability rating hasn't improved at all since her 2016 defeat. I'll leave you with the latest data point on this front: