We call it Kultursmog, it being that collection of attitudes, ideas, tastes and personages that are polluted by the politics of the left and that predominate on both coasts. And who are we? We are the freethinkers who are immune to the Kultursmog by virtue of our natural skepticism and reliance on empiricism, which is to say, reliance on evidence. Thus, we understand and generally accept that Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. We also accept that Hillary Clinton, assisted by her hubby and their consultants, lost the election. In fact, she lost the election after outspending Donald two to one and turning many of her consultants into millionaires.
Now the question being asked by political wizards is why Hillary lost despite being the smartest candidate, the most virtuous candidate, and, oh yes, the candidate with the best sense of humor since W.C. Fields, though she is a lot prettier. And the question being asked by us — that is to say, us skeptics — is: Has the Kultursmog learned anything since Hillary’s defeat, by which we mean her latest defeat? You will recall that in her 2016 race she was dubbed the “inevitable” one, at least until the clock struck 8 p.m. on Nov. 8, much as she was dubbed the “inevitable” one through the election cycle of 2008 until there emerged a little-known community organizer.
Incidentally, does anyone wonder how Candidate Trump would deal with Candidate Obama? That would be a campaign for the ages.
Now there has appeared from the hazy vapors of the smog a book attempting to explain the election, and all the smog’s outlets are reviewing it. The book is titled “Shattered: Inside Hillary’s Clinton’s Doomed Campaign.” The best thing about it is the title, “Shattered.” After that it is pretty uneven. There are a few glints of understanding, but from what I can tell from reading “Shattered” and its reviews, the Kultursmog remains securely in the dark. According to it, Hillary was the victim of plots by FBI Director James B. Comey, Russian hackers, errors made by her staff, the sinister doings of “the deplorables,” and misogyny. Six decades after the dawn of feminism, with the feminists’ fingerprints all over the republic, Hillary still cannot get a break. Though I am told by reliable sources that up there in the Kultursmog she is contemplating another suicidal run in 2020. She does not take no for an answer.
As I say, there are glints in “Shattered” that suggest the authors have learned a thing or two about the new political scene that we were being presented with in 2016, though there are few references to Donald Trump and the unique campaign he waged. He proved to be the finest campaigner in my adult life going all the way back to Bob Kennedy in 1968. And Hillary, after all the absurd laudations that the Kultursmog has basted her in, is about the worst. As the authors say, “The campaign was an unholy mess, fraught with tangled lines of authority, petty jealousies, distorted priorities, and no sense of purpose.” Hillary never could explain why she was running for president. The only other candidate who had trouble answering that question was, as I recall, Teddy Kennedy as he sat frozen before CBS’ Roger Mudd in 1980.
So “Shattered” does provide some answers as to why Hillary lost and what the Kultursmog has learned, which is very little. One learns this by noting what the smog neglects to mention. For instance, there is only a brief mention of why she nearly collapsed on a New York street and nothing about the dark glasses she wore, provoking her critics to question her health. Others get angry in this book and even use coarse language but not Hillary, despite years of witnesses quoting her foul mouth. There is no mention of her election night tantrum fueled by alcohol. Why not at least mention that her critics were leveling such charges that night?
Finally, there are people who ought to be mentioned, but are not. Why no David Brock, her controversial ally, or Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime adviser? The best chapter in this book is the chapter on Hillary’s server and her failure to deal with it honestly and expeditiously. But by not mentioning Mr. Blumenthal and the 23 classified memos that the Daily Caller reported from his correspondence with her (they were classified as “Confidential” and “Secret”), knowledgeable readers will suspect a cover-up.
This is why when we skeptics come across some artifact fashioned by the Kultursmog, we sense that it will be in some way untrustworthy. We are rarely wrong. Just over the weekend, The Washington Post reported polls that suggest Donald Trump’s days are numbered. It is not until readers get to the very end of the report that they discover Donald Trump still beats Hillary 43 percent to 40 percent — an even wider margin than on election night.
• R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is author of “The Death of Liberalism,” published by Thomas Nelson Inc.