Take her Wellesley address on Friday: utterly bonkers for a commencement speech. Newly minted graduates expect to hear something useful or at least funny or informative or, failing all else, sentimental. Clinton did a bit of this, then started lobbing word-mortars far over their heads at Donald Trump, making the kinds of Nixon comparisons that every Democrat, and lots of non-Democrats, have been making for months.
Why bother pursuing such a trite theme? Because Clinton was eager to show the Washington political hacks that she is still a tough operator, a leader of the anti-Trump movement, a player. She was, in other words, campaigning. To all appearances, the game is long over. Yet she is still on the field, because the game isn't over to her. Hey, there's another election in three and a half years, folks. And need we remind you who won the popular vote?
In Traister's profile, Clinton (again) deflects attention from her own self-evident flaws to blame her defeat on others. She again blames James Comey, with zero acknowledgment that her own actions to evade scrutiny of her e-mail were the cause of Comey's entirely justified and indeed shockingly forgiving criminal investigation. She (again) blames the Russians, even though even she acknowledges that the actual content of the WikiLeaks e-mails from her own fellow Democrats was "inconsequential."
She (again) blames misogyny, a non-falsifiable theory with no evidence behind it except that citizens supposedly came up to her and said things like, "Gosh, I'm not sure we're ready for a woman president," with the added fillip that women who voted against her are internalized misogynists. She blames "the suppression of the vote, particularly in Wisconsin," channeling an investigation from progressive fantasists published in The Nation that is so lacking in credibility that it was debunked by Slate and ignored by most of the Hillary-friendly media.
Clinton does not mention that she made more campaign stops in Arizona than in Wisconsin. She forgets that she ignored the advice of her own husband that it was unwise to write off white working-class voters. She does not allude to her having hidden from the public a bout with pneumonia until she was forced to release information when a random bystander happened to make a video of her collapsing on a mild day in New York City. She doesn't reflect on her uninspiring speeches or her off-putting personality. Traister doesn't press her on any of these matters, and the anticipation of that treatment is why Clinton agreed to speak to someone like Traister in the first place.
In lieu of all of this, Clinton seeks to present herself as the most forceful opponent of the Trump administration. Should the president be impeached, she'll be able to say: Hey, I called it! But she isn't leading the national conversation, she's mouthing along with it, like any other retiree talking back to cable news at home. Even if the Trump administration proves to be the catastrophe she foresees, there is no reason the Democrats would turn back to her for a third run. Every time she draws attention to the Trumpian flaws that were conspicuous to all during the campaign, she doesn't hear the obvious rejoinder echoing in every American's mind: Then why couldn't you trounce him?
Commentary by Kyle Smith, critic-at-large at National Review. Follow him on Twitter at @rkylesmith.
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©2017 National Review. Used with permission.
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