Hillary Clinton is the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. And giving. And giving.
The lady just can’t keep her mouth shut. Or in this case, she can’t keep her pen and pencil sheathed. She insisted during the late, lamented presidential campaign that she didn’t know very much about computers, so we can assume she sat at the dining room table in her Washington digs and wrote her latest memoir with a pencil on the long yellow legal pads that lawyers buy by the gross, in this case, “gross” being the operative word.
She sat down the other day with Jane Pauley of CBS News, and let down some of her hair, just girls who might have one day been gossiping and commiserating over the back fence, except that in Hillary’s neighborhood nobody has back fences, just expensive security patrols.
Hillary’s new memoir is only the latest in her campaign to demonstrate that she never makes mistakes, that she’s just a girl who’s always been taken advantage of by her friends who only want to freeload on the Clinton good name. She’s out to tell in this memoir exactly what happened to her on the way to the White House, the inevitable president not once, but twice. This she tells it like it never was.
Like Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ancient mariner, she just keeps telling her tale whether anyone wants to listen or not, and she never gets to a new place. “Water, water, every where/And all the boards did shrink;/Water, water, everywhere,/Nor any drop to drink.” Lots of answers but never an answer anyone wants to drink.
Miss Pauley asked (not exactly this clearly) whether some of her memorable verbal gaffes, which were hardly the work of faithless friends, might have contributed to the public impression made over the years, stretching from Little Rock to Washington, that Hillary was mean and spiteful.
What about the remark that “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables?” Why do you think that word “deplorable” had been circulating in your mind?
“Well, I thought Trump was behaving in a deplorable manner. I thought a lot of his appeals to voters were deplorable. I thought his behavior, as we saw on the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, was deplorable. And there were a lot of people who didn’t care. It did not matter to them. And he turned out to be a very effective reality star.”
Hillary continues to demonstrate that there’s a lot of political smarts and savvy in the family, but none of it hers. Insulting in dismissive language half the voters in America is not what a clever politician, on the run in the last weeks of a campaign, is usually eager to do.
“It was a gift,” Miss Pauley said.
“I don’t think it was determinative,” Hillary said. No one should get the wrong idea about who blew the election.
If there’s one thing Hillary simply can’t tolerate it’s a man always in pursuit of sex, and in the crudest terms, whether with bare hands or armed with a cigar. The candidate Trump was a married man, after all, and who would trust a man who might defile the Oval Office by indulging cheap sexual appetites there? He might betray his vows to his wife, even the women of America who would expect him to behave.
But it wasn’t just a man with inexpensive lusts that she had to deal with. There were a lot of sexists and misogynists lurking in the weeds, eager not to give the little lady a big hand. “I started the campaign knowing that I would have to work extra hard to make women and men feel comfortable with the idea of a woman president. It doesn’t fit into the stereotypes we all carry around in our heads. And a lot of the sexism and the misogyny was in service of these attitudes. Like, you know, ‘we really don’t want a woman commander in chief.’ “
She credits Mr. Trump for a campaign of nostalgia that gave “hope, comfort, settle grievances for millions of people who were upset about [and here comes the all-purpose, all-the-time Democratic theme] gains that were made by others because “
Miss Pauley offered a helping hand: “What you are saying is, ‘millions of white people.’ “
“Millions of white people, yeah,” Hillary said. “Millions of white people.”
The sins and shortcomings of Donald Trump have been well ventilated, and there’s no shortage of them. But the whole nation is nevertheless in his debt. Hillary never made it back to the White House.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.