Opinion writer
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn't hold back in her critique of President Trump and the 2016 election she lost to him, while speaking at Women for Women International event on May 2. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

As always happens when Hillary Clinton speaks about anything, far too many folks latch onto what they want to hear instead of what she actually said. They slam her without regard to context and extenuating circumstances that prevent her from giving the answer they want or actually deserve. The Women for Women International gathering in New York City on Tuesday was the cause of the latest smackdowns of Clinton.

The Post’s Dave Weigel took apart the erroneous snap assessment of her comments on high-speed broadband. So, after having watched her 35-minute interview with CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour and having read the transcript, I’m going to dive into this maddening business that Clinton refuses to take responsibility for her loss. My snap take: Dammit, people!

What irked me most was the truncated quote attributed to Clinton about what would have happened in the 2016 election. “If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president,” she reportedly said in more than one story about the event. Those stories failed to point out that Clinton was paraphrasing a conclusion published by trusted statistician and analysts Nate Silver. She said, “But as Nate Silver — who doesn’t work for me, he’s an independent analyst, but one considered to be very reliable — has concluded, you know, if the election had been on October 27th, I’d be your president. And it wasn’t.”

Hillary Clinton tells CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour her victory in the 2016 presidential election would have been "a really big deal" for women. (Women for Women International)

On Dec. 11, 2016, Silver put out a series of tweets that form the basis of Clinton’s thinking about her election loss. One read, “Comey had a large, measurable impact on the race. Harder to say with Russia/WikiLeaks because it was drip-drip-drip.” When Silver was asked for data support his assertion, he replied in another tweet, “There’s more evidence, too: Late-deciding voters broke strongly against Clinton in swing states, enough to cost her MI/WI/PA.” And then Silver followed up with the tweet that reports depict as coming from Clinton.

Silver was back at it on Wednesday with a lengthy piece entitled. “The Comey Letter Probably Cost Clinton The Election: So why won’t the media admit as much?”

What else irked me? Oh, yeah, this notion that Clinton failed to take responsibility for her failed campaign.

AMANPOUR: … look, whenever anybody says they’re going to speak to Secretary Clinton, you know, there’s a — your supporters are sad, they’re devastated, they’re disappointed, and some are angry.  And some say, you know, could it have been different?  Could the campaign have been better?  Could you have had a better rationale?  He had one message, your opponent, and it was a successful message — Make America great again.  And where was your message?  Do you take any personal responsibility?

CLINTON:  Oh, of course.  I take absolute personal responsibility.  I was the candidate.  I was the person who was on the ballot.  I am very aware of, you know, the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had.  Again, I will write all this out for you. But I will say this — I’ve been in a lot of campaigns, and I’m very proud of the campaign we ran.  And I’m very proud of the staff and the volunteers and the people who are out there day after day.

Clinton also said, as she discussed the impact of the Comey letter, “So did we make mistakes? Of course we did. Did I make mistakes? Oh my gosh, yes.”

What so many fail to take into account is that Clinton is in the middle of writing her book on the campaign — even though she explicitly mentioned it three separate times. “You know, you’ll read my confession and my request for absolution,” she said after her “Oh my gosh, yes.” In that block quote above, note that she said, “I will write all this out for you,” And in response to a query about what her election as president would have said to the world and to women around the world, Clinton said, “I am writing a book, and it’s a painful process reliving the campaign, as you might guess.”


Hillary Clinton delivers her concession speech on Nov. 9 in New York City as Bill Clinton looks on.(Olivier Douliery/European Pressphoto Agency/Pool)

Why are so many outraged over her reticence to give more details when they know she is saving all the revelations for her book? The breathlessness of the past 24 hours will be warranted if the forthcoming tome is devoid of any discussion or acknowledgement of fatal mistakes (i.e., never campaigning in Wisconsin or an over-reliance on modeling that led to the loss of Michigan) that made it necessary for us to say the words “President Trump.” And those claiming Clinton is whiny or questioning why she just doesn’t move on from the election should have a talk with the man who continues to relitigate the campaign and to brag about his electoral win.

This whole episode further confirms my conjecture that when we look at either of the Clintons, we see them as if looking at figures in a fun-house mirror. Their distorted image invariably conforming to the preconceived notions of the viewer. I’ll admit that my fun-house-mirror view of them is on the favorable end of things. But I’m not blind to their foibles and failures, their shortcomings and sins. The problem is that too many people are blinded BY them.

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