Turns out Donald Trump isn’t the only candidate who can’t let go of the 2016 presidential election.
In a remarkable interview Wednesday with the technology site Recode, Hillary Clinton went from wounded to whiny, from sympathetic loser to sore loser, as she delivered her accounting of all the things that led to Nov. 8:
Why did she lose? Let’s recap:
▪ It was the Democratic National Committee’s fault. “I get the nomination ... I inherit nothing from the Democratic party,” she said. “It was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong.”
▪ It was the media’s fault for turning her use of a personal email server “into the biggest scandal since who knows when.”
▪ It was the Russians’ fault for leaking emails detrimental to her campaign. “I believe that what was happening to me was unprecedented,” she said.
▪ It was, ahem, someone else’s fault for helping guide the Russians on how to best “weaponize” those leaks. Who gave them that guidance? “I’m leaning Trump,” Clinton said.
▪ It was everyone else’s fault for not paying attention when she suggested that Trump and Russia had a troubling relationship. “We were basically shooed away, like, ‘Oh you know, there she goes, vast right-wing conspiracy.’” Clinton said. (Fact check: A lot was written during the election about Trump and Russia.)
▪ It also was everyone else’s fault for thinking she was going to win a race in which she was leading most every poll. “I was the victim of a very broad assumption I was going to win,” she said.
▪ It was James Comey’s fault for announcing on Oct. 28 that he was investigating new information that might be connected to Clinton’s email server.
▪ It was the New York Times’ fault for treating the Comey announcement “like it was Pearl Harbor.” (As if the FBI director saying his agency was investigating a presidential candidate was not a big headline.)
What about Clinton herself? “I take responsibility for every decision I made,” she said.
“But that’s not why I lost.”
Look, Clinton isn’t wrong to lament factors that might have contributed to her loss. The Russians meddled. James Comey spoke up when he shouldn’t have – or didn’t speak up when he should have about the other campaign the FBI was investigating.
It’s also very human to harbor what-ifs about such a significant disappointment – especially when you got so close to the thing you wanted most.
But Wednesday’s interview was a startling display of blame-shifting, and it was a good reminder of at least one reason Clinton was unable to beat the most flawed candidate in general election history: Then and now, she has exhibited an inability to take responsibility for her shortcomings. The email server that dogged her candidacy was never just about the email server. It was about a stubborn reluctance to just say, unqualified, that she’d done something wrong.It was about trust, and it was far from the first time.
It’s revisionist for Clinton and her supporters to point fingers everywhere but at the candidate who lost, and it would be dangerous for Democrats to display the same lack of introspection moving forward. Hillary Clinton lost for a lot of reasons last November, but the biggest was Hillary Clinton. Turns out there’s one more person she has trouble being forthright with – herself.