A Hillary Clinton hot take is in the headlines again: According to her, “nobody likes” presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders.
Earlier this week, The Hollywood Reporter published an interview with Clinton, a promotional piece for the upcoming Hulu documentary about her political career, in which the former secretary of state was asked about a statement she’d made during the documentary.
The interviewer, Lacey Rose, asked:
In the doc, you’re brutally honest on Sanders: “He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.” That assessment still hold?
Hillary replied, simply: “Yes, it does.”
Next, Rose asked Clinton whether or not she would support Sanders if he were to become the Democratic nominee. Clinton said: “I’m not going to go there yet” — and then proceeded to attack Sanders’s supporters for what she calls their “relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women,” accusing Bernie himself of having “not only permitted” “this culture,” but also seeming “to really be very much supporting it.”
Later, continuing the discussion about what Clinton sees as Bernie’s “pattern” of sexism, Clinton offered as evidence the fact that Sanders had told her that she was “unqualified” when they were both running for the Democratic nomination in 2016. (Note: This “unqualified” comment, made during an April 2016 debate, was in response to Clinton questioning Sanders’s own qualifications. It is more than worth noting that, in making this criticism, Sanders stuck to questioning her on her past policy only, pointing out blunders such as her vote in favor of the Iraq War.)
So, what came of all of Clinton’s brutal attacks on Sanders? Did his supporters flee? Did people express their deepest sympathies that Clinton had to encounter him?
Nope; far from it. In fact, #ILikeBernie started trending on Twitter. Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson shared a screenshot showing that he’d just donated to Sanders, telling Clinton: “Every time you trash him, I will give more.” Bernie’s competitors for the nomination, Representative Tulsi Gabbard and billionaire Tom Steyer, weighed in to say that they also “like” him.
The backlash was so bad, in fact, that Clinton took to her own Twitter account to backtrack, clarifying that she would, in fact, support whomever became the Democratic nominee.
Personally, I am left thinking one thing: Hillary Clinton is not good at this.
Despite the fact that Clinton has been in politics for decades, it seems that her political instincts are actually quite terrible. This is not the first time during the primary that Clinton has helped a candidate she’d intended to bring down.
In October, Clinton made the absurd, baseless allegation that Tulsi Gabbard was being “groomed” by the Russians. (Note: She offered no proof.) When Gabbard responded harshly — which I can’t say I wouldn’t do if someone were making those accusations about me — a Clinton spokesman went after her for doing so, slamming her for her “[d]ivisive language filled with vitriol.”
And what happened then? Well, first, Gabbard got a bump in the polls — a significant enough one, in fact, to earn her a spot at the November Democratic primary debate. This week, it’s also been announced that Gabbard is suing Clinton for defamation over the “Russian asset” remarks.
Like I said: Hillary Clinton is not good at this.
Now, I can’t help but notice a common theme when it comes to the way Clinton and her team seem to approach the political arena. All too often, they can’t resist the urge to make things about her.
To Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders is bad because she and her buddies in Congress don’t “like” him. He’s sexist because he told her that she wasn’t “qualified.” After Tulsi Gabbard defended herself against Clinton’s brutal, objectively unfair attacks, Clinton’s spokesperson wasted no time aiming to get sympathy for Clinton over them — pointing out how Clinton had had to endure Tulsi’s supposed “vitriol.”
This is, unfortunately for Clinton, more of the exact same thing that we saw throughout her failed 2016 election campaign. The most obvious example, of course, would be that campaign slogan: “I’m With Her.” Rather than choose something that even so much as hinted to the American people what she would do for them, she chose instead to make the focus on them needing to be there for her. She was calling on voters to be there for her against sexism, there for her against the brutal attacks from that evil orange monster, Donald J. Trump. In fact, many people struggled to find any sort of message in Clinton’s campaign — except, of course, for the fact that Trump is mean to her, and that, in order to be a decent person, you had to help her deal with that by being with her, against Trump.
Of course, I’m not saying that women in politics don’t face sexism. They do. In fact, women in anything have to face sexism — and if you don’t believe me, then I’d suggest you try asking one.
What’s more, I’m also not denying the fact that Donald Trump has his own brand of self-absorption. He does, and that’s obvious — whether the septuagenarian is calling himself a “young, vibrant man” or talking about his “beautiful head of hair,” it’s really no secret that Donald Trump spends a decent amount of time thinking about how fond he is of, well, Donald Trump.
Hillary’s self-obsession, however, is different. Unlike Trump, she is quite clearly particularly obsessed with feeling sorry for herself — and she wants, more than anything, for other people to feel sorry for her, too. She has a pattern of blatantly seeking sympathy even when it’s outright ridiculous for her to do so. Hillary Clinton had the backing of the entire DNC during her 2016 run, and yet, after she lost, all she could do was whine incessantly about how many people had wronged her throughout the process and made it so unfair. You know, like James Comey. Or the media. Or white women. Or Russia. Hell, at one point, she even had the nerve to call herself “a victim of . . . the assumption” that she “was going to win.”
In her memoir — which is, in all honesty, nothing more than a glorified pity party on paper — she whines that “[t]here are times when all I want to do is scream into a pillow.” Elsewhere, she complains about how hard it was for her to write the book (which, by the way, broke sales records and made her millions):
“Literally, at times when I was writing it, I had to go lie down,” she said. “I just couldn’t bear to relive it.”
Make no mistake: Hillary Clinton’s attempts to seek sympathy in recent years are endless. Worse, this “strategy” also isn’t new: When she was running against President Obama in 2008, her performance in one of the debates was so drenched in her woe-is-me-attitude that Politico published a piece declaring: “Hillary Clinton as the inevitable Democratic nominee didn’t work. Hillary Clinton as the front-runner didn’t work. So how about Hillary Clinton as the victim?”
Yes: Hillary Clinton is consumed by feeling sorry for herself. What’s more, she has obviously been operating under the false notion that all she needs to do is get others to share in this obsession, and then that will translate into political support. She must feel this way; there’s no other reason she’d keep doing it.
Here, though, is the problem: Expecting support simply because of the ways you say you’ve been wronged is just as bad as expecting support simply because you say you are, shall we say, “a very stable genius.”
Actually? In some ways, it’s kind of worse.
Now, it’s important to point out that Trump, unlike Clinton, has managed to pause his self-obsession long enough to communicate his vision for the country. Yes, he may change his mind at times — but he’s at least attempted to maintain his focus on what he wants to do for the country. You may disagree with what he says he wants to do (and I, for one, certainly have disagreed at times) but at least Trump talks about his message enough for people to have some understanding of what the hell it is.
Even if he hadn’t been able to do this though, I think I’d still find his brand of self-obsession less obnoxious than Clinton’s. Trump may consistently be trying to paint himself as a rich, attractive, unparalleled savior of the world, but Clinton is consistently trying to paint herself as some kind of sick, flea-infested, three-legged street puppy — and, I’ve got to say, I have a pretty hard time feeling sorry for her.
When we talk about Hillary Clinton, after all, we are hardly talking about someone who is struggling to make it in the world. We’re not talking about someone on the streets or in a shelter; we’re talking about an Ivy League-educated former secretary of state who is worth tens of millions of dollars. We are talking about someone who earns hundreds of thousands of dollars per speech. (In other words? For an hour of talking.) Given all that, I have to admit that I do find it kind of hard to spend any time feeling bad for such a rich, influential person — especially while I’m sitting here in my rental apartment.
Now, I certainly wouldn’t say that Trump necessarily handles any attacks “better” than Clinton does. He, after all, has a tendency to lash out and insult people, and he’s said a lot of things in response to criticism with which I’ve definitely had a problem. What’s more, he also certainly does his own fair share of complaining. (Have you ever hear him talk about the media?)
The difference, though, is that he seems to aim to do so from a position of toughness. I’ve heard him call many things “unfair,” and yet I’ve never once felt as though he wanted me to feel sorry for him. If Trump loses this election, I don’t doubt that he will take as little responsibility for his own loss as Hillary Clinton did hers, but I also don’t anticipate him expecting an international pity party because of it.
Maybe by that time, no matter who wins, Clinton will have finally decided to end her own pity party. I, at least, certainly would hope so. After all (as someone who had to ask a friend what I was looking at in an Instagram photo of the interior of a private jet yesterday), I’ve really have a pretty hard time feeling too bad for either one of them — and I don’t think I’m alone.