There's still a brutal fight, 10 months after Election Day 2016, for control of the narrative of what happened. On one side, you have Hillary and her supporters pointing to the media's overt hostility, Russian interference, 25 years of Republican smears, James Comey's ill-timed letter to Congress, and, last but not least, Bernie's scorched earth war on the Democratic Party. There is a mountain of irrefutable evidence that these things happened and, combined, they cost Hillary just the tiny amount of votes needed to put Trump in office.
On the other side, you have Bernie's followers (and a good deal of the press) that look at that mountain of evidence and, like climate change deniers, howl that it's all a lie.
The most recent battle over control of the narrative is Hillary's book "What Happened." With the volume of outrage this is eliciting, you'd think that a losing candidate had never written a book before.
Here's how The New York Times speaks about it:
What’s to be done with Hillary Clinton, the woman who won’t go away?
Her account of her election defeat, “What Happened,” comes out on Tuesday. Predictably, her re-emergence in the public eye is stirring the toxic brew of Clinton-hate and Clinton-worship, along with a certain discernible fatigue and disorientation.
Susan Chira is far from the only person wishing Hillary would vanish.
CAN HILLARY CLINTON PLEASE GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT? - Vanity Fair
Cluelessness, thy name is Hillary Clinton - New York Post
Democrats are not looking forward to Hillary Clinton's upcoming book tour - AOL news
Bernie Sanders Tells Clinton to 'Move Forward' on 'Colbert' - RollingStone
That last one is particularly rich as Bernie says, with a straight face, "[Clinton] ran against the most unpopular candidate in the history of this country, and she lost," Senator Sanders said. "But our job is not to go backwards."
This is coming from the man who lost to Hillary by 3-4 million votes in the primary. What does that say about his ability to win elections? (Hint: Everything. None of it good) Curiously, when Bernie put out his post-primary book that he spent time writing instead of campaigning to keep Trump out of office, there was very little discussion about whether or not the losing primary candidate should fade away into the background. In fact, the cable news shows still regularly have him on to lambaste the Democratic Party. Truly, he is the picture of good will and unification.
And in case you were planning on arguing that Bernie didn't attack Hillary in his book? Good luck with that.
But the double standard is, well, standard when it comes to Hillary. Bernie has been bashing Hillary and the Democratic Party for the past two years and that is acceptable. Hillary takes a mild, and verifiably true, swipe at Bernie and, somehow, she's the most divisive figure in modern political history.
But the most fascinating aspect of this dynamic is how her critics on the left have treated the growing evidence that Russia did, in fact, rig the election in a variety of ways. The more information that comes out that Hillary was cheated, the angrier they get. They are absolutely dedicated to convincing the world that she lost because she was terrible and anything else threatens the narrative that empowers their demand for control of the Democratic Party.
Imagine a slightly alternate universe. Let's take Nate Silver's estimate that the Comey letter cost Clinton about 3 percentage points in the election. Imagine it never happened. Now Clinton wins the Electoral College, and lands a bigger popular vote victory than Barack Obama did against Mitt Romney.
In that world, are we talking about what an awful race President Clinton ran? We aren't.
That's what we're not supposed to talk about. Clinton ran a good campaign, won a massive popular vote victory and required an equally massive effort on the part of disparate groups to eke a technical win out for Trump. If we accept this as truth, Hillary's "establishment" vision for the party, the one that 3-4 million more Democratic voters voted for, is the dominant one.
In this context, it is very easy to understand why her critics from the left are so enraged that Hillary refuses to let a false narrative of 2016 stand. It's also why they will never stop lying about how the primary was "rigged"; it would take all the wind out of their sails.
A slightly different dynamic is at play when it comes to the media. The Chris Cillizzas and Chuck Todds of the world were all too happy to pimp "Clinton Cash", a hit job on Clinton so bad the publisher had to "correct" several sections that were blatantly false. The New York Times paid a small fortune so they could report on the juicy (and dishonest) details early, something they had never done for a book about a presidential candidate before. That's how eager they were to tear Hillary down.
After the election, a study showed that the press went insane with reporting on the nothingburger of Hillary's emails. They put very little effort into the Trump-Russia scandal, his numerous crimes, conflicts of interest and boorish behavior but every tiny detail of those emails was covered exhaustively. In light of the how huge the Russia story is, how corrupt and dangerous Trump is, and how little the email story amounted to, it is inarguable that we witnessed the worst case of journalistic malpractice in American history.
If you were Chris Cillizza and wrote 50 different articles attacking Hillary over smoke and mirrors, you'd favor the narrative that Hillary lost the election all on her own, too.
But she didn't lose all on her own. She didn't even really lose. So why, exactly, should she sit down and shut up? Her vision was supported by the majority of Democratic voters. The primaries, despite the phony horse race generated by the press and Bernie's supporters, weren't even close. Even so, Hillary graciously acceded to Bernie's demands that the party adopt most of his platform, a move which is rarely acknowledged by the Bernie wing.
Should Hillary lead the party? No. She lost and it's time to let others have their shot. But Bernie should stand aside as well. He never even got out of the primaries. He does not speak for the majority of Democratic voters no matter how loudly Bernie supporters scream out the lie about rigged primaries.
The argument, of course, will be that Bernie speaks for his movement so he has every right to keep pushing the party. That begs the question: If Hillary speaks for a far larger part of the party, why should she be silent in the face of the leader of a smaller group?
The answer, of course, is "I hate her so she should shut up" which is to say there is no real answer at all.
The Democratic Party is deciding how to move forward. One side is more than happy to accommodate the passionate but erratic voting power of the Millennials by adopting many of their issues. The other side is more interested in being granted total control of the party without having to put in the sweat and tears to earn it or acknowledging the issues of the not as loud but far more reliable base. Change does not occur by demanding others unconditionally bend the knee but through hard work and compromise to reach your goals.
As long as Bernie is exerting influence on the party, it is fully appropriate for Hillary to do the same if she so chooses. Telling her to go away says far more about the person making the demand than it does about Hillary. She doesn't owe her critics a damn thing; not an apology and certainly not her silence. She's spent decades making the world a better place and no one puts baby in the corner.
There are 421 days left to the 2018 elections.
- This article kills fascists
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