What I’m Reading: What Happened By Hillary Rodham Clinton (Simon & Shuster, New York, 492 pages, $30)

The Sorrows of Poor Hillary: Hillary Clinton Campaign Memoir Trashes Friend and Foe Alike but Rarely Looks in the Mirror for Why She Suffered Possibly the Biggest Electoral Defeat in American History. A Postmortem Clue: Hillary’s Natural Allies Ran Away from Her.

Hillary Clinton explains why she lost the presidential election last year.

Blame Sexism. Blame Trump’s Outrageous Conduct. Blame Vice President Joe Biden. Blame Obama. Blame Trump’s “Deplorable” Supporters. Blame FBI Director James Comey and “Those Damn Emails.” Blame the Russians. Blame the New York Times and other Liberal Media. Blame the laws of physics. Blame white women!

But please don’t blame Hillary Clinton. In this no mea culpa memoir she explains it was many others, but not her. She was the victim of a series of electoral scams that denied her the presidency.

This is the relentless theme that Hillary Clinton sticks to through almost 500 pages in a flawed memoir of why she stunningly lost last year’s election.

Gregory Bresiger Keeps More Than 30 Bucks from Leaving Your Pocket

There, I gave you the essence of this irritating book. I saved you $30 plus sales tax (By the way, when you tax books, isn’t that a tax on knowledge?). This is a quick summary of much of what you will read in this, “Oh, Woe Is Me” work from the hustings of 2016.

The presidential election was a unique event; a once in our lifetimes contest. It was an electoral earthquake; one in which Hillary Clinton copied the blunders of Thomas Dewey in 1948 and Al Gore in 2000 (In 1948, many pollsters stopped polling early in the campaign, convinced that President Truman had no chance for re-election. In 2000, we constantly heard in the mainstream media that George W. Bush was a human blank who would be easily bested by the “brilliant” Gore. However, somehow Gore didn’t win the debates and later didn’t even win his home state of Tennessee).

The parallels to these political upsets are stark. Hillary Clinton, like Gore and Dewey, set out in a campaign with all the advantages one could have. Many Democrats were spooked by the potential power of the Clinton political machine to outspend and ruin opponents. So many middle of the road would be Democratic party candidates—such as vice president Joe Biden—decided to sit out the campaign.

In the primaries, her strongest opposition came from someone who was not a Democrat, Socialist Bernie Sanders. He ran in the Democratic party primaries with collectivist ideas of expanding our huge federal government even more. Hillary correctly questioned Sanders’ ideas as virtually bankrupting the country. Still, she also had her own plans for a fatter federal government with the specious promise of only the rich would pay higher taxes. She still has the spending and taxing bug. At one point in “What Happened”, she says that she likes to “think big” in expanding the government. She also suggests that, instead of taxing income, our well-fed federal government should start taxing “net worth.” Fine, maybe you have been poor a good part of your life, but you worked your way up and now have some assets. Well, Hillary Clinton says the federal government should get a bigger piece of those assets.

Nevertheless, Hillary was able to battle through the primaries. And, with plenty of resources—lots of money, support from within the party machine—she began the general election campaign with almost everyone predicting her victory.

Hillary and Junk Science

She had an administration doing everything it could to help her, but she was still on a unique path to defeat. Both Obamas campaigned for her. I say unique because this is a book covered with self-serving comments and ridiculous assertions. For instance, Hillary Clinton, blaming everyone for her defeat except possibly Winnie the Pooh, explained that the laws of physics worked against her. Every action has a reaction, she explains. So, while Americans were open minded in electing Obama in 2008, they inevitably reacted the other way in 2016.

She also complains that the Russians were interfering with the campaign. However, she has yet to produce one instance in which the Russians or anyone else stole votes. Still, countless bad people were investigating her, she says.

Were the Trump people trying to dig up dirt on the Clintons? Sure. But I would guess the Clintons were trying to dig up dirt on Trump. So it all reeks. But as one wit once said, “politics ain’t beanbag.” This is another reason to be suspicious of all career pols both left and right.

But, as Congress investigates the election, no one so far no one has produced instances of vote changing thievery.

The Boss Daley Test

This is the kind of thing that was documented in American politics in Hillary Clinton’s youth. For instance, she grew up in the Chicago area and it is proven that the political machine of Chicago mayor Richard Daley stole votes. No one has shown that happened in 2016; that Trump stole his way into office the way Lyndon Johnson did in the Senate election of 1948. In the latter, votes were changed so Johnson could win the election as detailed in many books, with probably the most effective one being Robert Caro’s excellent “Means of Ascent.”

Hence, Hillary’s complaints about the Russians to date have nothing to do with vote stealing, but with the Russians planting propaganda throughout the America media. Here, in deference to her complaints and the complaints of many other outraged Americans since the election, I must pause for a hypocrisy break.

What Goes Around Comes Around

How many times, since the unfortunate founding of the American national security state after World War II, have American secret services interfered in foreign elections?

Lots of times.

And we’re upset about the Russians—who had seen NATO brought to their doorsteps despite promises not to do when the Soviet Union was breaking up in the early 1990s— trying to interfere in our elections? Hillary Clinton’s husband in the 1990s was publicly committed to regime change in Iraq (Yes, this was based on the specious claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, a claim that led to a useless war in 2003, and one that was generally endorsed by both major parties). These frequent complaints about her victory arrogated by various malevolent men is part of a tissue of lies and exaggerations that are at the heart of this awful, yet telling, book.

Still, Hillary Clinton, nevertheless, does tell a bit of truth, but then quickly moves back to her wailings.

Women Shun Hillary. Numerous Battleground State Defeats

So why, in fact, did Hillary lose what should have been the layup election of all layup elections; a contest between an establishment figure who had served as Secretary of State and U.S. Senator against a politically connected crony capitalist who often raved through his Twitter account, changing his position every ten minutes?

One amazing answer: Hillary Clinton couldn’t carry a key constituency the way she should have. She lost the white women vote! In fact, on the women’s vote overall, she disappointed. More on this anon.

I think any reasonable person, at the outset of the election cycle in which Hillary Clinton would heavily outspend Trump in political advertising—-her ads were maddeningly everywhere for months on the tube. Hillary Clinton obviously never heard of the word overkill—would have bet she should have done much better with women; or that she should have carried traditional Democratic states such as Michigan, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania. She lost all three of these states. And it is really no defense when she says the states were very close. She was supposed to win these states—and the election—going away.

What went wrong?

Many middle-class voters have turned away from the Democratic Party for generations—some call them Reagan Democrats. This is something Hillary Clinton just won’t acknowledge in this book. It is a book in which most Democrats are portrayed as good and almost all Republicans are presented as eating babies for breakfast except when they trash Trump. But vice president Biden, who spoke candidly after the silly election season was over, was on to something when he warned that the Democrat party had failed in 2016 because it “did not talk about what it had always stood for—and that was how to maintain a burgeoning middle class.” (page 395).

These comments angered Hillary Clinton, who said Biden was dead wrong. Apparently, Hillary Clinton believed her political and money advantages could overcome anything. Besides Biden, Hillary Clinton won’t be sending any Christmas cards to former FBI Director Jim Comey. His new email investigation of her communications in late October cost her the election, she says. But Hillary Clinton isn’t telling the whole story. Earlier in the campaign, she told the FBI, investigating her use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State, that she was unable to find a dozen or so mobile devices.

What?

Hunting for Those Lost Phones

At the end of the wonderful movie “The Hunt for Red October,” which is about finding and seeming to destroy a lost Soviet sub commanded by a renegade captain who threatens to start World War III, the Soviet ambassador tells the American national security adviser that he must bring up another matter: The Soviets, he explains, have lost another sub. “You’ve lost another sub?” says the shocked American official.

Hillary, you lost a dozen mobile devices?

Nevertheless, the pain of it all remains this for Hillary Clinton: She was the overwhelming favorite—she was the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, beaten by the upstart New York Jets. She was the New York Yankees, ahead three games to nothing against the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs of 2004; still losing four games in a row to whiff on a series that was supposed to be all theirs—and she still lost. And there’s something worse. Hillary Clinton was beaten not by a political heavyweight or by American Plato but by some fifth-rate payaso who promotes wrestling matches and whose investments went belly up in Atlantic City!

For all the tube ads whopping it up for her, Clinton couldn’t change this political anomaly: Who would have guessed that the first woman to run for president on a major political party ticket would not have obtained a super majority of women voters? I would have guessed Clinton would have received somewhere between sixty-six and seventy five percent of the female vote, possibly more.

But she didn’t.

No, It Wasn’t the Russians or Comey, Chercher Les Femmes

Millions of women voted against her or indirectly voted against her by staying home.

Amazing.

She was running against a sexist, a political neophyte with the attention span of a flea, someone who lacked her elite educational credentials. Trump probably has never read, or will ever read, a substantial book. Yet she only received 54 percent of the female vote. Did someone steal that 46 percent of women voters who went for El Donaldo?

I think not.

In the typical dishonest tone of this book, she glosses over this key metric, saying the 54 percent number was a good performance. “I won women overall by a safe margin” (54 percent).

De Veras, Senora?

The number was actually shocking, especially when she adds in the next sentence, “But I failed to win a majority of white women, although I did better with them than Obama in 2012” (page 128).

Yes, but Obama was the not the first woman presidential candidate on a major party ticket in American history. Hillary spends little time delving into why so many women didn’t vote for her (I have a female neighbor, who has a place in Florida as well as here in Bunkerland, who made a point of voting for Trump in Florida because she detested Hillary. Florida was another critical state she lost. Clinton seemed to lose every critical state). And I believe there is a good reason for Hillary shying away from this painful subject: It demonstrates something that Hillary Clinton admits in another part of the book: Lots of people, she concedes, don’t like her.

Ya think?

Not Trusted

I believe the fatal issue for Hillary Clinton’s second failed presidential campaign was something that went beyond ideology or political prejudice since many Democrats and would-be allies didn’t vote for her or, in some cases, actually voted for El Donaldo. I think that, whatever our political or philosophical view of the world, that how we view a public figure, his or her character, will always be a factor in how we vote.

For example, I count myself as a believer in limited government. Today that makes me something on the order of a classical liberal/libertarian. If someone who runs with one of these labels is a sleazy person, then I will not vote for him or her, no matter how much the person talks about reducing government, or looks like me or pretends that he or she is “on your side.” I don’t trust a liar to keep his or her promises no matter the party he or she represents.

Sometimes this character factor can be the most important reason in how someone votes. It can go beyond the Hillary “we’re the good guys and they’re the bad guys” fairy tales of politics. Actually, I think both major parties are bereft of new ideas, which is why they tacitly agree to keep out third parties. By the way, neither third party candidate was allowed into the debates, which was a disgrace. Yet the libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, received a bit north of four million votes. That was a considerable number for a minor party. That means he held the balance of power in a few Western states. Maybe Hilary will blame the minor parties in her next book.

Bubba Yes. Hillary No

Ben Wattenberg, a political scientist and one-time adviser to President Johnson, once made this point in a book about politicians entitled “Character Matters.”

Hillary Clinton, along with her husband Bill, have a lot of character baggage. But she has also had a big political disadvantage that apparently money, fame and a superior education can’t overcome. Her husband has been a gifted, but often morally challenged, pol. He has remarkable political salesmanship skills. He has the ability to sell ice boxes to Eskimos. William “Bubba” Clinton is an American “Flashman,” a “Felix Krull Confidence Man.” He is “The Natural,” (The title of a very good book on Bill Clinton by Joe Klein). He has the ability to talk himself out of almost any political disaster. By contrast, she has never had his touch for campaigning.

For instance, trying to burnish her reputation as an environmentalist, she bragged to people in a coal mining community, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” (p263).

How’s that?

She insists that this sentence was taken out of context; that it was part of a bigger answer of how one diversifies an economy away from coal mining. However, she never seems to understand that it was a thoughtless answer. It was a comment that moved her campaign further away from what should have been her natural base.

But Hillary Clinton was never really ready for the big leagues of mud wrestling called U.S. presidential politics.

Did You See Hillary on the E-Train?

Before 2016, she had won two easy Senate races in New York, where effective republicans are about as common as honest crooks or truthful career pols or enjoyable subway rides on the egregious state run New York subways. By the way, at one point in the book she complains about men spreading their legs and taking up too much space on subway cars. This is a comic compliant. The reader is led to ask: How often does Hillary, or any other political ruling class republican or democrat, actually ride the subways that they so often tell their voters to ride even though you are not going to see them underground unless they’re caging votes? After these soft senate races, Hillary Clinton felt ready to try for the bigtime.

But in 2008, again with all the political advantages that money could buy, the mystique of her political infallibility was destroyed. Despite beginning that campaign with myriad advantages, she lost the Democratic presidential primary to an obscure first term U.S. Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. It was an ugly race filled with charges from both sides. But Hillary Clinton moved on. President Obama, in order to keep Hillary from making trouble, appointed her Secretary of State. Once Obama finished two terms, everything seemed set up for her to take the brass ring.

But her 2016 campaign, as detailed in the book “Shattered”—-an excellent book with a Teddy White “I was on the campaign trail” feel—was flawed in many ways. The problems included the lack of a theme, a justification for her running and even a reluctance to use Eleanor Roosevelt as a model, the authors noted. The demand for a raison d’etre for her campaign angered her. She says the media’s harping on her lack of a theme for running was another example of sexism. She claims others never had to meet such a standard as though asking someone why he or she wanted to be president was an example of dirty pool.

The Sorrows of Hillary and the Sorrows of Camelot III

But apparently Hillary Clinton has forgotten the Democratic presidential primaries of 1980. Here, Senator Edward Kennedy, who began the race as the frontrunner and whose absurd economic populism included a call for the government takeover of the oil companies, was unable to clearly answer a simple question from CBS News’ Roger Mudd about why he was running for president.

Kennedy’s campaign was badly hurt. Some would argue the campaign never recovered.

Kennedy’s presidential hopes were finally finished by that campaign of blunder. I hope we can say the same of Hillary Clinton.

About The Author

Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent business journalist from Queens, New York. His Personal Finance articles have appeared in publications such as The New York Post & Financial Advisor Magazine. He is the author of the eBooks “Personal Finance For People Who Hate Personal Finance” and “MoneySense”.