Hillary Clinton Looks Back in Anger in What Happened


September 19, 2017

Hillary Clinton Looks Back in Anger (and Frustration Too)

She talks about Trump, Comey, collusion, “deplorables,” and the power of sexism.

When I told Clinton that I had looked her up that morning on Twitter, she smiled knowingly and said, “A dangerous thing to do!” She knew all too well what was there, and it wasn’t merely the usual filth about her appearance or her marriage. It was the kind of material that allowed men like Trump, Michael Flynn, and Chris Christie to get in front of roaring crowds and inspire chants of “Lock her up!”

“I’ve thought a lot about this,” Clinton told me. “And for whatever combination of reasons—some I think I understand, and others I don’t—I am viewed as a threat to powerful forces on both the right and the left. I am still one of the favorite subjects for Fox TV. With the return of [Steve] Bannon to Breitbart, we’ll see him utilizing that publication. It’s because I do speak out, and I do stand up. Sometimes, you know, what I say is not fully appreciated for years, to be honest. At least, it seems to me that way. But I’m going to continue to speak out. And on the left—there is a real manipulation of the left. In addition to those who are calling me names, we know that Russia has really targeted, through their trolls and bots, a lot of accounts—a lot of Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, of people on the left—feeding them a steady diet of nonsense.”

Such talk was not a matter of wishful conspiracy thinking. Scott Shane, of the Times, recently published an article in which he, with the help of the cybersecurity firm FireEye, detailed the Russian efforts against Clinton in the campaign, far beyond the hack of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta’s e-mail accounts. Shane reported that a “cyberarmy” of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bloggers and bots with fake American identities spread disinformation about Clinton on various platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.

These tactics, Clinton told me, were “right out of the playbook of Putin and one of the generals whom he listens to, who talked about the kind of war planning and preparation that Russia needed to be engaged in. It was no longer just large, conventional forces and nuclear warheads—it was also cyberwar, covert and semi-covert, even overt, as we saw in Ukraine. This attack on our electoral system was at least publicly encouraged by Trump and his campaign. I hope the investigation in the Congress and by [Robert] Mueller, as well, will give us more information and understanding of what else they really did to us. It’s not going away.”

I asked Clinton if she thought Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russians. “I don’t want to overstate what we already know publicly, but I think the compilation of coincidence adds up to something more than public support,” she said, referring to Trump’s refusal to criticize Putin (“Why should I tell Putin what to do?”) and his encouragement of Julian Assange (“I love WikiLeaks!”).

She went on, “The latest disclosure by Facebook about the targeting of attack ads, negative stories, dovetails with my concern that there had to be some information provided to the Russians by someone as to how best to weaponize the information that they stole, first from the Democratic Committee, then from John Podesta. And the refusal of the Trump Administration officials, both current and former, to admit to their involvements with Russians raises a lot of unanswered questions.” Putin’s motives, she said, went well beyond destabilizing a particular campaign. “Putin wants to undermine democracy, to undermine the Atlantic alliance, to undermine the E.U., to undermine NATO, and to resurrect Russian influence as much as possible beyond the borders,” she said. “So the stakes are huge here.”

If, as Clinton told me, the Russians had deployed a “new form of warfare” to upend American democratic processes, what should President Obama have done in the closing act of the campaign? At a summit in China, Obama told Putin to back off from any election tampering, and he talked about the issue at a press conference. But he did not raise the stakes. Figuring that Clinton would win, Obama was wary of being seen as tipping the election to her and confirming Trump’s constant assertions that the vote was rigged against him. When the C.I.A. first told Obama, in August, that the Russians had been meddling in the Presidential race, the agency shared the information with the Gang of Eight—the congressional leadership and the chairs and the ranking members of the intelligence committees. The Administration asked for a bipartisan statement of warning. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, adamantly refused, muffling for weeks any sense of national alarm.

“I feel we sort of choked,” one senior Obama Administration official told the Washington Post. Another former Administration official said that national-security people were feeling, “Wow, did we mishandle this.” Clinton, in her book, gingerly “wonders” what the effect might have been had Obama gone on national television in the fall of 2016 “warning that our democracy was under attack.” I asked her whether Obama had failed—whether the issue should have been treated less as a narrowcasted political problem and more as a grave national-security threat.

“Well, I think that I’m very understanding of the position he found himself in,” she said. “Because I’ve been in that Situation Room, I know how hard these calls can be. And I believe that they struggled with this, and they were facing some pretty difficult headwinds.” She was less restrained in her description of the Senate Majority Leader’s behavior. “Mitch McConnell, in what I think of as a not only unpatriotic but despicable act of partisan politics, made it clear that if the Obama Administration spoke publicly about what they knew, he would accuse them of partisan politics, of trying to tip the balance toward me,” she said. “McConnell basically threatened the White House, and I know that was on the President’s mind. It was a predicament for him.” She also lambasted James Comey, the former F.B.I. director, who “refused to publicly acknowledge that there was an investigation, and, with the height of irony, said, ‘Well, you can’t do that so close to the election.’ ” (Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the investigation had not progressed to the point where disclosure would have been appropriate.)

All the same, I asked, did President Obama blow it?

Clinton paused, and spoke very carefully: “I would have, in retrospect now, wished that he had said something, because I think the American people deserved to know.”

In “What Happened,” Clinton, by way of demanding national resolve against a Russian threat, quotes a maxim attributed to Vladimir Lenin: “You take a bayonet and you push. If you hit mush, you keep going; if you hit steel, you stop.”

“Were we mush?” I asked about the Obama Administration’s response.

Now she did not hesitate. “I think we were mushy,” she said. “Partly because we couldn’t believe it. Richard Clarke, who is one of our nation’s experts on terrorism, has written a book about Cassandras,” unheeded predictors of calamity. “And there was a collective Cassandra out there—my campaign was part of that—saying, ‘The Russians are in our electoral system, the Russians are weaponizing information, look at it!’ And everybody in the press basically thought we were overstating, exaggerating, making it up. And Comey wouldn’t confirm an investigation, so there was nothing to hold on to. And I think that the point Clarke makes is when you have an initial occurrence that has never happened before, some people might see it and try to warn about it, but most people would find it unlikely, impossible. And what I fear is we still haven’t gotten to the bottom of what the Russians did.”

Surprisingly, Clinton and her advisers believe that the most dramatic day of the campaign, October 7th, the day of the “Access Hollywood” tape, was a disaster for them. Early that day, the director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Homeland Security released a statement concluding that the Russians had been attempting to interfere in the U.S. election process. But when, shortly afterward, the Washington Post released the tape—in which Donald Trump describes how he grabs women by the genitals and moves on them “like a bitch”—the D.H.S. statement was eclipsed. “My heart sank,” Jennifer Palmieri, a top Clinton adviser, recalled. “My first reaction was ‘No! Focus on the intelligence statement!’ The ‘Access Hollywood’ tape was not good for Trump, obviously, but it was more likely to hurt him with the people who were already against him. His supporters had made their peace with his awful behavior.”

That evening, a third media vortex formed, as Julian Assange went to work. WikiLeaks began to dole out a new tranche of stolen e-mails. “It seemed clear to us that the Russians were again being guided by our politics,” Clinton said. “Someone was offering very astute political advice about how to weaponize information, how to convey it, how to use the existing Russian outlets, like RT or Sputnik, how to use existing American vehicles, like Facebook.”

Clinton has little doubt that Assange was working with the Russians. “I think he is part nihilist, part anarchist, part exhibitionist, part opportunist, who is either actually on the payroll of the Kremlin or in some way supporting their propaganda objectives, because of his resentment toward the United States, toward Europe,” she said. “He’s like a lot of the voices that we’re hearing now, which are expressing appreciation for the macho authoritarianism of a Putin. And they claim to be acting in furtherance of transparency, except they never go after the Kremlin or people on that side of the political ledger.” She said she put Assange and Edward Snowden, who leaked extensive details of N.S.A. surveillance programs, “in the same bucket—they both end up serving the strategic goals of Putin.” She said that, despite Snowden’s insistence that he remains an independent actor, it was “no accident he ended up in Moscow.”

In assessing all the reasons she was defeated last November, Clinton believes that the critical factor was not her failures of tactics or rhetoric, not her misreading of the national Zeitgeist, not her inability to put her e-mail-server blunder to rest, and not even the manipulations of foreign cyberwarriors. The critical factor, in her view, was “the Comey letter”—James Comey’s announcement, eleven days before the election, that the F.B.I. had, in the course of a criminal investigation of the former congressman Anthony Weiner, discovered a cache of e-mails from her that required further study. This revived the e-mail issue that had plagued the campaign from the day in March, 2015, when the Times broke the story that Clinton, while Secretary of State, had maintained a private server and merged her personal and professional accounts. The polling expert Nate Silver concluded, “Clinton would almost certainly be President-Elect if the election had been held on October 27,” the day before Comey released his letter. Silver’s analysis was that Comey’s announcement led to a three-point plunge for Clinton, reducing her chances of winning from eighty-one per cent to sixty-five. Moreover, Silver said, had it not been for the Comey letter and the WikiLeaks publication of stolen e-mails, Clinton would have taken Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida. In the end, she lost Florida by 1.2 points, and the others by less than a point.

Clinton talked about the spike in Google searches about WikiLeaks which had been spurred by the Comey letter—particularly in Pennsylvania, “where maybe Obama had squeaked out a win in a town or a county.” “That’s when the bottom fell out,” she said. “Particularly with women in the suburbs of Philadelphia and elsewhere, who thought, Well, that’s it, I wanted to vote for her, I was fighting with my husband, with my son, with my employer, and I told them I was going to vote for her, but they’re right, she’s going to jail, we’re gonna lock her up, I can’t vote for her.”

Time and investigation will tell whether Donald Trump or his surrogates colluded in any foreign interference in the election; what is entirely clear is that he was, with his penchant for exploiting an enemy’s weakness, eager to add weight to the heavy baggage that Clinton, after thirty-five years in public life, carried into the campaign. Trump, who lives in gilded penthouses and palaces, who flies in planes and helicopters emblazoned with his name, who does business with mobsters, campaigned in 2016 by saying that he spoke for the working man, that he alone heard them and felt their anger, and by branding Hillary Clinton an “élitist,” out of touch with her country. The irony is as easy as it is enormous, and yet Clinton made it possible. She practically kicked off her campaign by telling Diane Sawyer that the reason she and her husband cashed in on the lecture circuit on such an epic scale was that, when they left the White House, in 2001, they were “dead broke.” As earnestly as she has worked on behalf of women, the disadvantaged, and many other constituencies, Clinton does not, for many people, radiate a sense of empathy. A resident of a bubble of power since her days in the Arkansas governor’s mansion, she makes it hard even for many supporters to imagine that her feet ever touch the ground. In “What Happened,” she describes how, when considering whether to run again in 2016, she had to consider all her negatives—“Clinton fatigue,” the dynastic question, her age, the accumulated distrust between her and the press—and then says that she completed the deliberative process by going to stay with Oscar and Annette de la Renta at Casa de Campo, their retreat in the Dominican Republic. “We swam, we ate good food, and thought about the future. By the time we got back, I was ready to run.” This is perhaps not a universally relatable anecdote. Nor did she see much wrong with giving twenty-odd million dollars’ worth of speeches, including to Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions, conceding only that it was, in hindsight, bad “optics.” (“I didn’t think many Americans would believe that I’d sell a lifetime of principle and advocacy for any price,” she writes. “That’s on me.”)

In 2012, Obama won over many working-class voters in the Midwest and elsewhere by reminding them that he had saved the automobile industry and, through strokes broad and subtle, by painting Mitt Romney as the heartless boss who would have handed out the pink slips. Despite Trump’s wealth and his televised role as a big shot who took glee in firing people, “Hillary somehow got portrayed the way Romney did,” a close adviser to Clinton told me. “Those people felt she was against them. It was super gendered and classist. It’s hugely complicated, but she was the uppity woman. . . . Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump drove the message that ‘she looks down on you.’ The ‘deplorable’ thing was awful, but she was losing those people hard by then.”

Clinton’s relation to the press has always been vexed. In the book, Clinton singles out the Times for hammering away at her e-mail issue in a way that she says overwhelmed any negative coverage of Trump. “The Times covered her like she was a Mafia figure,” one adviser said.

This dynamic has a long history. It was the Times that, during the 1992 Presidential campaign, initially broached the Whitewater story—a saga of relatively modest indiscretions and misdeeds. In the White House, the Clintons responded to further inquiries with defensiveness and stubborn resistance, which reinforced suspicion in the press, and the cycle led to conspiracy thinking all around. This cycle of mutual mistrust has continued on and off since then. It was not long before reporters, many of them broadly sympathetic to left-of-center politics, came to view the Clintons with weary skepticism. For other pundits, Hillary Clinton, in particular, came off as sanctimonious, with her New Age homilies about “the politics of meaning.” The Clintons, in turn, came to see the press as the enemy.

In 1993, I was invited to a White House dinner for about fifty people. The Clintons evidently wanted to reëstablish some rapport with the press. I was seated next to Hillary. For much of the dinner, she complained about “Saint Hillary,” a caustic profile, by Michael Kelly, published in the Times Magazine. Kelly saw Clinton as a self-righteous First Lady who thought she could help concoct a “unified-field theory of life” that encompassed the social gospel of the nineteenth century, the “temperance-minded Methodism” of the twentieth century, the liberation theology of the sixties and seventies, and “the pacifistic and multiculturally correct religious left of today.” Kelly sternly concluded that Clinton “clearly wants power” and had “amassed more of it than any First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt.”

From those days onward, Clinton has known that she inspired hostility. Twenty-one years ago, in an article for this magazine called “Hating Hillary,” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., she admitted, “I apparently remind some people of their mother-in-law or their boss, or something.” In the same piece, Arianna Huffington remarks on Clinton’s “self-righteousness,” Peggy Noonan on her “apple-cheeked certitude.” Gates observed that Clinton was widely perceived as Mrs. Jellyby, the character in Charles Dickens’s “Bleak House” who is as “intent on improving humanity as she is cavalier toward actual human beings . . . the zealous reformer with a heart as big as all Antarctica.”

Such ingrained habits of media antagonism proved to be another factor that allowed Trump, the biggest liar in the history of Presidential politics, to be seen by tens of millions of people as a figure of rude authenticity, their champion. In Clinton’s view, she could never win with people who had been trained to regard her as a high-minded phony. Her wariness and evasions drained their sympathy; her strained attempts to win people back too often fell flat. Why couldn’t she be admired for her intelligence, her competence, her experience?

In “What Happened,” she voices her sense of exasperation:

I’ll bet you know more about my private life than you do about some of your closest friends. You’ve read my e-mails, for heaven’s sake. What more do you need? What could I do to be “more real”? Dance on a table? Swear a blue streak? Break down sobbing? That’s not me. And if I had done any of those things, what would have happened? I’d have been ripped to pieces.

She acknowledges that her caution had sometimes made her seem guarded (and “prompted the question, ‘What is she hiding?’ ”), but she notes that many men in politics, though far less scrutinized, aren’t asked to “open up, reveal themselves, prove that they’re real.”

Clinton has come to believe that there is an overriding reason that she has aroused such resentment: her gender. In the book, she points out that both Bill Clinton, as the fatherless son from “a town called Hope,” and Barack Obama, as the son of a Kenyan father and a white idealist, had capsule life stories that helped them reach voters. Clinton was the first woman to have a serious chance to win the Presidency, but “I was unlikely to be seen as a transformative, revolutionary figure. I had been on the national stage too long for that and my temperament was too even-keeled.”

When I asked about this, I pointed out that her popularity was always high when she ran something—when she was Secretary of State, her approval rating was nearly seventy per cent—but suffered when she ran for things.

“I was running something in service to someone else,” she told me. “A man. Who I was honored to serve. And so I knew that if I did get into the Presidential race again I would face what women face when you are not serving someone, but you are seeking power yourself.”

Clinton said that she has learned from life, as well as from studies and from conversations with the likes of Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, that “the more successful a man becomes, the more likable he becomes; the more professionally successful a woman becomes, the less likable she becomes.” Her situation, she said, “was Clinton-specific, plus sexism and misogyny.”

But why, when half the voters are female, should gender prove an even greater barrier in American electoral politics than race? I mentioned other countries that have female heads of state, including Great Britain and Germany.

“I think part of it is our system,” she said. “And we don’t yet have that audience. I hope it will change, especially for young women. We have a Presidential system. We have one person—head of state, head of government. Most of the places you mention have a different head of state, to carry on all of the symbolic continuity, whether it’s the crown or the nation, and the head of government is charged with the responsibility of being a political leader. . . . Parliamentary systems, historically, have proven more open to women. And why would that be? Because you have a party apparatus to support you. You can build relationships and a good sense of competence with your fellow party members. And they can see how effective you are and elect you leader. But you only have to run in your constituency, which is a much smaller and more defined—and, in many ways, open—opportunity to build personal relationships with those who are in your constituency. You know, when I ran for the Senate the first time, here in New York, I won, I think, fifteen counties. Next time I ran, I won all but three.” Close: all but four. “Because I could build that personal relationship, I could produce results, I could demonstrate that I was fighting for the people of New York.”

It’s true that, throughout the campaign, Clinton was described—by Trump, by his surrogates, and by countless people on social media—in the ugliest terms: weak, sickly, a criminal, physically repellent. Clinton, in her book, tells of how, during the second debate, just two days after the “grab ’em by the pussy” tape, she wanted to wheel around at Trump, who was “breathing down my neck,” and say, “Back up, you creep, get away from me, I know you love to intimidate women but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.” Instead, she bit her tongue and kept going.

She castigates Trump for inflaming and giving “permission” to misogynists and racists. “Those attitudes have never gone away,” she told me. “But we had successfully—and this is part of the role of civilization—we had rendered them unacceptable: being an overt racist, being an overt misogynist, saying the terrible things that Trump said about immigrants or Muslims. All of that was not political correctness. It was respect. It was tolerance. It was acceptance. But there was a growing resentment, anger, that came to full flower in this election. . . . The Internet has given voice to, and a home for, so many more people. And so with Trump to light the match, from the first day of his campaign to the last, there was a sense of acceptance, liberation, empowerment for these forces.”

Did Clinton stand by her campaign line that a substantial number of Trump’s voters were “deplorables”? She shifted quickly from self-reflection to attack mode.

“I think Trump has behaved in a deplorable manner, both during his campaign and as President,” she said. “I think he has given permission to others to engage in deplorable behavior, as we did see in Charlottesville and elsewhere. So I don’t take back the description that I made of him and a number of his core supporters.”

In conversation and in the book, Clinton’s pain is manifest. When it comes to feminism and her role in the women’s movement, she says, she never figured out “how to tell the story right.” And the country, she believes, is not ready to hear it. Or, at least, not from her. “That’s not who we are,” she writes. “Not yet.”

Elsewhere in the book, she writes, “As the campaign went on, polls showed that a significant number of Americans questioned my authenticity and trustworthiness. A lot of people said they just didn’t like me. I write that matter-of-factly, but believe me, it’s devastating. Some of this is a direct result of my actions: I’ve made mistakes, been defensive about them, stubbornly resisted apologizing. But so have most men in politics. (In fact, one of them just became President with a strategy of ‘never apologize when you’re wrong, just attack harder.’)”

The women in her circle of friends and advisers are particularly outraged by the way that Trump was able to win so many votes among working-class white women. “Trump was, like, I am going to paint a picture of her as someone who will come steal your children and take your guns,” one said. “The million-dollar question will be: What will happen when it isn’t Hillary Clinton, when it’s another woman? For now, neither women nor men trust the ambition of women.”

A few hours after our conversation, I went uptown to Riverside Church, where Clinton was scheduled to hold a public conversation with Bill Shillady, a Methodist minister and a family friend who during the campaign had e-mailed Clinton hundreds of morning devotionals—Bible passages with accompanying short sermons—and who had helped officiate at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, in 2010, to Marc Mezvinsky. Now he was publishing those devotionals as a book called “Strong for a Moment Like This.”

Clinton was doing Shillady a kindness, but even in this she couldn’t catch a break. The day before the event, the publisher, Abingdon Press, announced that it was withdrawing the book because it was filled with passages plagiarized from other pastors and sources. Shillady issued an apology, but, naturally, Clinton took the hit in the press. In her fashion, Clinton soldiered through, holding the conversation with another Methodist minister, Ginger Gaines-Cirelli.

The pews were filled with New Yorkers, a majority of them women, who had come to hear Clinton, to shower her with praise, to soothe her and themselves. In the introduction, Amy Butler, the senior minister at Riverside and a friend of Clinton’s, referred to the Trump Administration as a source of anguish and confusion, and everyone nodded solemnly. One got the sense that there would be hundreds of such events in the coming years for Hillary Clinton, and one wondered if they would do anything to ease the sense of failure, the anger at all the forces she could not begin to control. “We praise God for who you are,” a bishop said from the podium. “And most of all, Sister Hillary, we love you.”

Clinton was greeted with a long ovation, which she met with her signature slow head-nodding and an expression at once pleased and pained. She talked about her Methodist church in Illinois, her youth minister, Don Jones, and her trip to Orchestra Hall, in downtown Chicago, to hear Martin Luther King, Jr., deliver one of his most famous sermons, “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.”

Asked how she was managing, she made her joke about drinking “my fair share of Chardonnay.” She quoted from Galatians: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Her message was endurance, which has always been her watchword. And she made it plain what the election had unleashed.

“Where does that cruelty, that mean-spiritedness, come from?” she said. “It’s not from Christianity. It’s not from people of faith.” This was another source of confusion for her: the evangelical vote went not to the devout Methodist but, rather, to the guy who referred to “Two Corinthians.”

Again, the applause came, but it seemed not to lighten her at all. After the event was over, after the last handshakes, after the last selfie, Clinton climbed in the back seat of her car, the Secret Service all around, and headed back to her white house in the woods. ♦

This article appears in other versions of the September 25, 2017, issue, with the headline “Still Here.”

*David Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker since 1998 and a staff writer since 1992. He is the author of “The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.

Book Review: ‘What Happened’ by Hillary Rodham Clinton


September 18, 2017

Book Review: ‘What Happened’ by Hillary Rodham Clinton

http://www.sfchronicle.com/books/article/What-Happened-by-Hillary-Rodham-Clinton-12201891.php

 

 “I couldn’t get the job done, and I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life.”–Hillary Rodham Clinton

On the second page of “What Happened,” Hillary Clinton accepts responsibility for her loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

“I couldn’t get the job done, and I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life.”

She then proceeds to spend many of the next nearly 500 pages apportioning blame on others for the result of an election that she was so confident of winning. She had spent the closing days of the campaign polishing her victory speech and devouring memos on the impending transition.

“There had been no doomsday scenarios playing out in my head in the final days, no imagining what I might say if I lost,” she says of election night. “I just didn’t think about it. But now it was as real as could be, and I was struggling to get my head around it. It was like all the air in the room had been sucked away, and I could barely breathe.”

Clinton is hardly alone in her shock, or in the struggle to assess how a man she described as unqualified, immature and even dangerous became leader of the free world, which helps explain why “What Happened” shot to the top of the best-seller list in its first week.

“What Happened” contains anecdotes that will be alternately uplifting and heartbreaking to her most ardent supporters. Detractors will seize on ammunition for affirmation of her sanctimony and inauthenticity.

Image result for hillary clinton's what happenedJames Comey is a convenient excuse for her defeat. “Clinton was decidedly selective in her apportioning of blame” ( John Diaz).

Yes, there is no shortage of score settling and excuses in this book. But let’s face it: The book would be much less interesting — and, frankly, less honest — without her sometimes caustic airing of grievances.

Most of the prerelease excerpts focused on what she said about culpability of others in her defeat: the elbow-throwing of her opponent in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders; a news media preoccupied with her emails and insufficiently focused on policy or Trump’s flaws; the double standard applied to women in politics; the hesitancy of a devout supporter, President Barack Obama, to adequately warn Americans about the threat from Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Most pointedly, Clinton faults the actions of FBI Director James Comey. His October 28 announcement that he was reopening the email probe, she wrote, was a fatal blow at a time she was gaining momentum.

“Even if Comey caused just 0.6 percent of Election Day voters to change their votes, and even if that swing only occurred in the Rust Belt, it would have been enough to shift the Electoral College” outcome, she writes.

Clinton correctly anticipated that “What Happened” would engender criticism about her raising myriad factors that worked against her, from “the audacious information warfare waged from the Kremlin” to the “deep currents of anger and resentment” in American culture.

“I understand why some people don’t want to hear anything that sounds remotely like ‘relitigating’ the election,” she writes. “People are tired. Some are traumatized. Others are focused on keeping the discussion about Russia in the national security realm and away from politics. I get all that. But it’s important that we understand what really happened. Because that’s the only way we can stop it from happening again.”

Image result for hillary clinton blames Bernie Sanders for her electoral defeat

As with any politician’s account of a campaign, “What Happened” is less than the definitive word on what really happened in 2016. Accounts by journalists and historians in the mold of Theodore White (his “Making of the President” series set the standard) tend to be richer in revelation, more illuminating in context and more thorough in scope.

The best of these accounts carry no impulse to try to rationalize or rewrite a campaign narrative. Clinton was decidedly selective in her apportioning of blame.

For example, she was highly critical of media coverage, especially the comparative volume given to Trump and the fact that his offenses and miscues “rarely stuck,” as she put it. It is certainly true that the outrage, gaffes and vitriol of the Trump campaign was news and, in normal times, would have been a liability. But it also important to note that Trump was subjected to more fact checking and critical analyses than any nominee in modern times.

Besides, Clinton did herself no favors by severely rationing her media accessibility. She did not have a news conference for the first eight months of 2016; she declined invitations to meet with editorial boards of most major U.S. newspapers, including The Chronicle. It’s disingenuous to complain about inattention to policy positions while passing up opportunities to subject them to public scrutiny.

One of the favorite conservative talking points about the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election is along the lines of, “Vladimir Putin didn’t prevent Hillary Clinton from campaigning in Wisconsin.” She attempts to serve up answers for her loss in a Democratic-leaning state. She cited a new voter ID law as well as polls that suggested she was comfortably ahead, perhaps because Trump voters refused to participate.

As with her rationalization of her use of a private email server as secretary of state, Clinton’s explanation of her Wisconsin defeat is a bit too long, a bit too deflective, a bit too at odds with her repeated claim that “I blame myself” for Trump’s election.

For those who long for what might have been, Clinton offers a look at the closing riff of the victory speech she expected to give on election night. It brought her to tears every time she read it. She had hoped to speak of her dream of going back in time to be with her mother, abandoned by her parents at age 8, on the train to California to live with her grandparents.

Clinton imagines taking the 8-year-old Dorothy Rodham in her arms.

“Look at me. Listen to me. You will survive,” a President-elect Clinton would have said in her victory speech. “You will have a good family of your own, and three children. And as hard as it might be to imagine, your daughter will grow up and become President of the United States.”

With the publication of “What Happened,” those words, those dreams — and those tears — can now be shared. The answer to the question of “what really happened?” remains elusive.

John Diaz is The San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial page editor. Email: jdiaz@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @JohnDiazChron

What Happened

By Hillary Rodham Clinton

(Simon & Schuster; 494 pages; $30)

Putin to Democratic Party: You lost, get over it


December 23, 2016

Note: We have enough from CNN and US mainstream media about Russian attempts to interfere in the recent US Presidential elections which saw Donald J. Trump beating Hillary Clinton to be the 45th POTUS. American administrations of the past too are not free from trying to shore up governments in nations which are of strategic importance to US interests. Putin has answered his critics (read below).

To me, the whole shebang is what nations do to each other and spend billions of dollars on national security, The Russians are just as guilty as their counterparts elsewhere in the rest of world for snooping. That is why I find Putin’s response is intriguing and cheeky. The message from Putin to Obama, Hillary and the Democrats is “Don’t be sore losers”.–Din Merican

Putin to Democratic Party: You lost, get over it

Russia’s President Vladi­mir Putin has a message for the White House and Democratic leaders who accuse him of stealing their victory: Don’t be sore losers.

That was how Putin answered a question Friday about whether Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election in favor of Donald Trump at the Russian leader’s nationally televised annual press conference,

“Democrats are losing on every front and looking for people to blame everywhere,” Putin said in answer to a Russian TV host, one of 1,400 journalists accredited to the marathon session. “They need to learn to lose with dignity.”

The Kremlin leader pointed out Republicans had won the House and Senate, remarking “Did we do that, too?”

[The CIA has concluded that Russia worked to help Trump]

“Trump understood the mood of the people and kept going until the end, when nobody believed in him,” Putin said, adding with a grin. “Except for you and me.”

Putin has repeatedly denied involvement despite the accusations coming from the White House, and the Kremlin has repeatedly questioned the evidence for the U.S. claims. On Friday he borrowed from Trump’s dismissal of the accusations, remarking “Maybe it was someone lying on the couch who did it”.

“And it’s not important who did the hacking, it’s important that the information that was revealed was true, that is important,” Putin said, referring to the emails that showed that party leaders had favored Hillary Clinton.

Putin has given one press conference a year at the end of December for the 12 years he’s been president (taking a break for the four years he was prime minister). He deflected a question from an American reporter about whether he will move up 2018 elections. Some have speculated that the Kremlin leader might want to hold the elections earlier while his popularity soars above 80 percent. Putin has not made it clear whether he will run, though any suggestion that he might retire also seems premature.

Putin restated his interest in improved relations with the United States after the inauguration of Trump, who has promised work closely with Russia in the fight against terrorism.

In the wake of the assassination of Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey this week, Moscow and Ankara have made a show of their willingness to work together and, along with regional power Iran, bring a settlement to Syria.

Putin moved back the press conference a day to attend the funeral of his slain Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, who was assassinated in a brazen public shooting by a man shouting slogans about the war in Syria.

Putin deflected a question about Trump’s promise to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal, saying Russia was also upgrading its nuclear deterrent, “so that it will be stronger than any aggressor.” He blamed U.S. efforts to develop anti-missile technology for creating “conditions for a new arms race.”

“Preconditions for the new arms race were created when the U.S. withdrew from the anti-missile treaty. We are not violating any agreements,” Putin said.“Representatives of the current U.S. administration started to say that they are the strongest and most powerful in the world. Yes, indeed, they have more rockets, submarines, and aircraft carriers. We can’t argue with it.”

Putin, always concerned about his high popularity rating, touted a few good-news items about the Russian economy, hailing what he called record-low inflation of 5.5 percent, and congratulating villagers on this year’s harvest.

In recent poll by the Yuri Levada Analytical Center that gave Russians an opportunity to select which events they consider most important, 30 percent mentioned inflation, 28 percent mentioned the election of Trump, and 22 percent mentioned Syria. Russia’s efforts to mediate the civil war are at the top of nightly news.

Farewell, America–A Requiem on The Media


November 14, 2016

Farewell, America–A Requiem on The Media

No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on November 7, they will now look at us differently.

 

America died on November 8, 2016, not with a bang or a whimper, but at its own hand via electoral suicide. We the people chose a man who has shredded our values, our morals, our compassion, our tolerance, our decency, our sense of common purpose, our very identity — all the things that, however tenuously, made a nation out of a country.

Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on November 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on November 7, they will now look at us differently. We are likely to be a pariah country. And we are lost for it. As I surveyed the ruin of that country this gray Wednesday morning, I found weary consolation in W.H. Auden’s poem, September 1, 1939, which concludes:

“Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.”

I hunt for that affirming flame.

This generally has been called the “hate election” because everyone professed to hate both candidates. It turned out to be the hate election because, and let’s not mince words, of the hatefulness of the electorate. In the years to come, we will brace for the violence, the anger, the racism, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the nativism, the white sense of grievance that will undoubtedly be unleashed now that we have destroyed the values that have bound us.

We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone.

We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone.

We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist.

If there is a single sentence that characterizes the election, it is this: “He says the things I’m thinking.” That may be what is so terrifying. Who knew that so many tens of millions of white Americans were thinking unconscionable things about their fellow Americans? Who knew that tens of millions of white men felt so emasculated by women and challenged by minorities? Who knew that after years of seeming progress on race and gender, tens of millions of white Americans lived in seething resentment, waiting for a demagogue to arrive who would legitimize their worst selves and channel them into political power? Perhaps we had been living in a fool’s paradise. Now we aren’t.

This country has survived a civil war, two world wars, and a great depression. There are many who say we will survive this, too. Maybe we will, but we won’t survive unscathed. We know too much about each other to heal. No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things. Nor can we pretend that democracy works and that elections have more or less happy endings. Democracy only functions when its participants abide by certain conventions, certain codes of conduct and a respect for the process.

No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things.

No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things.

The virus that kills democracy is extremism because extremism disables those codes. Republicans have disrespected the process for decades. They have regarded any Democratic president as illegitimate. They have proudly boasted of preventing popularly elected Democrats from effecting policy and have asserted that only Republicans have the right to determine the nation’s course. They have worked tirelessly to make sure that the government cannot govern and to redefine the purpose of government as prevention rather than effectuation. In short, they haven’t believed in democracy for a long time, and the media never called them out on it.

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The sun sets behind the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC

Democracy can’t cope with extremism. Only violence and time can defeat it. The first is unacceptable, the second takes too long. Though Trump is an extremist, I have a feeling that he will be a very popular president and one likely to be re-elected by a substantial margin, no matter what he does or fails to do. That’s because ever since the days of Ronald Reagan, rhetoric has obviated action, speechifying has superseded governing.

Trump was absolutely correct when he bragged that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his supporters wouldn’t care. It was a dictator’s ugly vaunt, but one that recognized this election never was about policy or economics or the “right path/wrong path,” or even values. It was about venting. So long as Trump vented their grievances, his all-white supporters didn’t care about anything else. He is smart enough to know that won’t change in the presidency. In fact, it is only likely to intensify. White America, Trump’s America, just wants to hear its anger bellowed. This is one time when the Bully Pulpit will be literal.

The media can’t be let off the hook for enabling an authoritarian to get to the White House. Long before he considered a presidential run, he was a media creation — a regular in the gossip pages, a photo on magazine covers, the bankrupt (morally and otherwise) mogul who hired and fired on The Apprentice. When he ran, the media treated him not as a candidate, but as a celebrity, and so treated him differently from ordinary pols. The media gave him free publicity, trumpeted his shenanigans, blasted out his tweets, allowed him to phone in his interviews, fell into his traps and generally kowtowed until they suddenly discovered that this joke could actually become president.

The media can’t be let off the hook for enabling an authoritarian to get to the White House. Long before he considered a presidential run, he was a media creation — a regular in the gossip pages, a photo on magazine covers, the bankrupt (morally and otherwise) mogul who hired and fired on The Apprentice. When he ran, the media treated him not as a candidate, but as a celebrity, and so treated him differently from ordinary pols. The media gave him free publicity, trumpeted his shenanigans, blasted out his tweets, allowed him to phone in his interviews, fell into his traps and generally kowtowed until they suddenly discovered that this joke could actually become president.

Just as Trump has shredded our values, our nation and our democracy, he has shredded the media. In this, as in his politics, he is only the latest avatar of a process that began long before his candidacy. Just as the sainted Ronald Reagan created an unbridgeable chasm between rich and poor that the Republicans would later exploit against Democrats, conservatives delegitimized mainstream journalism so that they could fill the vacuum.

With Trump’s election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived

With Trump’s election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived.

Retiring conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes complained that after years of bashing from the right wing, the mainstream media no longer could perform their function as reporters, observers, fact dispensers, and even truth tellers, and he said we needed them. Like Goebbels before them, conservatives understood that they had to create their own facts, their own truths, their own reality. They have done so, and in so doing effectively destroyed the very idea of objectivity. Trump can lie constantly only because white America has accepted an Orwellian sense of truth — the truth pulled inside out.

With Trump’s election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived.

With Trump’s election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived. Like Nixon and Sarah Palin before him, Trump ran against the media, boomeranging off the public’s contempt for the press. He ran against what he regarded as media elitism and bias, and he ran on the idea that the press disdained working-class white America. Among the many now-widening divides in the country, this is a big one, the divide between the media and working-class whites, because it creates a Wild West of information – a media ecology in which nothing can be believed except what you already believe.

With the mainstream media so delegitimized — a delegitimization for which they bear a good deal of blame, not having had the courage to take on lies and expose false equivalencies — they have very little role to play going forward in our politics. I suspect most of them will surrender to Trumpism — if they were able to normalize Trump as a candidate, they will no doubt normalize him as president. Cable news may even welcome him as a continuous entertainment and ratings booster. And in any case, like Reagan, he is bulletproof. The media cannot touch him, even if they wanted to. Presumably, there will be some courageous guerillas in the mainstream press, a kind of Resistance, who will try to fact-check him. But there will be few of them, and they will be whistling in the wind. Trump, like all dictators, is his own truth.

What’s more, Trump already has promised to take his war on the press into courtrooms and the halls of Congress. He wants to loosen libel protections, and he has threatened Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos of Amazon with an antitrust suit. Individual journalists have reason to fear him as well. He has already singled out NBC’s Katy Tur, perhaps the best of the television reporters, so that she needed the Secret Service to escort her from one of his rallies. Jewish journalists who have criticized Trump have been subjected to vicious anti-Semitism and intimidation from the alt-right. For the press, this is likely to be the new normal in an America in which white supremacists, neo-Nazi militias, racists, sexists, homophobes and anti-Semites have been legitimized by a new president who “says what I’m thinking.” It will be open season.

This converts the media from reporters to targets, and they have little recourse. Still, if anyone points the way forward, it may be New York Times columnist David Brooks. Brooks is no paragon. He always had seemed to willfully neglect modern Republicanism’s incipient fascism (now no longer incipient), and he was an apologist for conservative self-enrichment and bigotry. But this campaign season, Brooks pretty much dispensed with politics. He seemed to have arrived at the conclusion that no good could possibly come of any of this and retreated into spirituality. What Brooks promoted were values of mutual respect, a bolder sense of civic engagement, an emphasis on community and neighborhood, and overall a belief in trickle-up decency rather than trickle-down economics. He is not hopeful, but he hasn’t lost all hope.

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Hillary, Thank You for the Good Fight–Din Merican

For those of us now languishing in despair, this may be a prescription for rejuvenation. We have lost the country, but by refocusing, we may have gained our own little patch of the world and, more granularly, our own family. For journalists, Brooks may show how political reporting, which, as I said, is likely to be irrelevant in the Trump age, might yield to a broader moral context in which one considers the effect that policy, strategy and governance have not only on our physical and economic well-being but also on our spiritual well-being. In a society that is likely to be fractious and odious, we need a national conversation on values. The media could help start it.

But the disempowered media may have one more role to fill: They must bear witness. Many years from now, future generations will need to know what happened to us and how it happened. They will need to know how disgruntled white Americans, full of self-righteous indignation, found a way to take back a country they felt they were entitled to and which they believed had been lost. They will need to know about the ugliness and evil that destroyed us as a nation after great men like Lincoln and Roosevelt guided us through previous crises and kept our values intact. They will need to know, and they will need a vigorous, engaged, moral media to tell them. They will also need us.

We are not living for ourselves anymore in this country. Now we are living for history.

Farewell, America

Why Hillary Clinton lost the election


November 12, 2016

Why Hillary Clinton lost the election

by Dan Roberts

http://www.theguardian.com

Dan Roberts is the Guardian’s Washington Bureau chief, covering politics and US national affairs. Previously, he worked as the national editor in London and was head of business. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

Contact
dan.roberts@theguardian.com

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As Democrats grapple with their loss to such an unpopular and divisive rival, persistent problems with Clinton’s campaign offer some explanation.

How Hillary Clinton managed to lose an election to a candidate as divisive and unpopular as Donald Trump will baffle observers and agonise Democrats for years to come. Once the shockwave passes, some glimpses of rational explanation may become visible.

Incumbent parties rarely hold on to power after eight years in office. George HW Bush, following Reagan, was an exception, but politics has become steadily more polarised since and pendulums have a habit of swinging.

Trump’s defiance of expectations has itself also become somewhat of a golden rule in American politics in 2016. Written off repeatedly during the Republican primary, and only rarely taken seriously during the general election, he nonetheless epitomises the same anti-establishment mood that led Britain to vote to leave the European Union and Democrats in 22 US states to nominate Bernie Sanders. Fairly or not, it is an establishment with which Clinton could not have been more closely aligned in the minds of many voters if she tried.

The economy

“It’s the economy, stupid” was a phrase coined by her husband’s adviser James Carville in the 1992 election and, in many ways, it ought to have helped Democrats again in 2016. Barack Obama helped rescue the US from the financial crash and presided over a record series of consecutive quarters of job growth.

Unfortunately for Clinton, many Americans simply did not feel as positive. Stagnant wage levels and soaring inequality were symptoms of the malaise felt by many voters. Trump successfully convinced them to believe this was caused by bad trade deals and a rigged economy.

Despite being pushed in this direction by Sanders in the Democratic primary, Clinton never really found a satisfactory response. Her volte-face on trade sounded – and was later proved by leaked emails – unconvincing at best; deeply cynical at worst.

Neither socialism nor the proto-fascist homilies of Trump offered much in the way of coherent alternatives either, but the bottom line was that Clinton simply failed to articulate a convincing defence of modern American capitalism.

Neither socialism nor the proto-fascist homilies of Trump offered much in the way of coherent alternatives either, but the bottom line was that Clinton simply failed to articulate a convincing defence of modern American capitalism.

Trust

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Henry A. Kissinger–America’s Foremost Flipflopper with Hillary Clinton

One big problem which undermined many otherwise plausible policy positions was a lack of trust. Paid speeches to Goldman Sachs and a murky web of business connections to the family charity left many Americans doubting Clinton’s sincerity on matters of money and much else.

That the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating the Democratic candidate until just two days before voting with a view to bring possible criminal charges for her flouting of data security laws was just the most extreme manifestation of the issue.

It was damaging not just that the FBI bungled its timing of what ultimately proved to be a dead-end investigation but because it played into the notion that the Clintons behaved as if the law did not apply to them.

Message vacuum

It also did not help that what Clinton was selling was mainly herself. The campaign’s strongest message was that she was uniquely qualified to become president. This was largely true, especially when compared with the grotesquely inexperienced Donald Trump, but big ideas took a backstage role.

There was a cast of a thousand policy prescriptions, from tweaks to the healthcare system to a watered-down version of the Sanders college debt proposals. Few were memorable, even among supporters.

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Bernie a better Candidate?

Campaign slogans are notoriously vacuous. Obama’s “hope and change” turned out to be more of the former than the latter. Yet Clinton’s “stronger together” only really began to take shape in response to Trump’s divisiveness. It was attractive to many Democrats as a symbol of what they felt the campaign was about but it ensured the battle was fought on Trump’s terms.

Broken polls

Amid the recriminations, special attention is likely to be reserved for the pollsters, who showed Clinton clinging to a comfortable three- or four-point lead in national opinion polls going into the election. Granted, some, such as Nate Silver’s 538 website, flagged up the risk of an upset in key swing states, but even he had downgraded expectations of a Trump win to less than 30% on the eve of polling.

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The failure partly reflects a broken industry. Reaching a vast audience no longer using landlines, or even mobile voice calls much, with a 20th-century modeling of statistical sampling has produced dangerously misleading results in elections around the world of late.

But the US fortune tellers were particularly confused by the scrambled demographics of the 2016 election. Trump in many ways ran to Clinton’s left on some economic issues, with a populist appeal to a growing group of unaffiliated independent-minded voters, and yet analysts continued to assume that if registered Democrats were voting early, or telling pollsters they were going to vote, it meant a vote for Clinton.

That all changed in 2016, a ground zero for a political bombshell that will mean the US electoral map never looks the same again.

The Guardian view on President-elect Donald Trump: a dark day for the world


November 11, 2016

The Guardian view on President-elect Donald Trump: a dark day for the world

Editorial–The Guardian

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This is a political and cultural cataclysm that few believed would really happen. It’s a bleak day for America, and for the pluralism and diversity the country has come to stand for

The unthinkable is only unthinkable until it happens. Then, like the sack of Rome, it can seem historically inevitable. So it is with the global political earthquake that is the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States. If he is true to his campaign pledges, which were many and reckless, Mr Trump’s win will herald America’s most stunning reversal of political and economic orthodoxy since the New Deal in the 1930s, but with the opposite intention and effect. It halts the ailing progressive narrative about modern America and the 21st-century world in its tracks. It signals a seismic rupture in the American-dominated global liberal economic and political order that had seemed to command the 21st century after communism collapsed and China’s economy soared.

In that sense, the Trump triumph has echoes of the increasingly alarming general rightward shift in the politics of other post-industrial western democracies, to which progressives have again produced inadequate responses. The parallel with Britain’s Brexit vote is obvious and real. So, perhaps, is the further boost that the Trump triumph may hand to nationalists in many parts of Europe – Marine Le Pen jumped quickly on that bandwagon. The result will be lamented by liberals across America and beyond. But it will be cheered in Moscow and Damascus, which will feel emboldened. This is not a good week to be a Latvian or a Ukrainian, and another dire one to be a Syrian oppositionist. The result is also a generational challenge to progressive politics to find the radical and credible message that eludes them in so many countries, not just in America.

But this is primarily an American catastrophe that America has brought upon itself. When it came to it, the US was unable to find a credible way of rallying against Mr Trump and what he represents. Hillary Clinton failed that crucial test both in herself and in what she offered; for her this is the end. But she was the symptom, not the cause. Mr Trump was not taken seriously and was widely not expected to beat Mrs Clinton throughout the long, bitter campaign. At each stage, his candidacy was deemed certain to crash and burn. The opinion polls and the vaunted probability calculus rarely trended in his direction; both are now discredited. Only after the FBI director’s intervention, less than two weeks before the election, was it widely imagined that the tables might turn in Mr Trump’s favour. Nevertheless by the eve of poll Mr Trump was again the outsider.

Yet Mr Trump won big in an election where, if the exit polls were right, most people made up their minds long before the James Comey furore. Mr Trump’s victory was total. It was built, more than anything else, on the white vote; irrespective of gender, age or education, white people mostly voted for him. It was the most stunning upset in modern US history; not even a squeaker. He won most of the battleground states into which the Clinton campaign had poured money – Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin – en route to a decisive Republican electoral college total exceeding 300. That majority is centred on the so-called flyover states, which inhabitants of the big Democratic bastions on the coasts often only see from 35,000 feet. But the red tide pushed north too, deep into the rustbelt, and consolidated in the south – although the electoral college system amplified Mr Trump’s victory: Mrs Clinton is set to win the popular vote, as Democrats have in every election bar one since 1988.

Democrats shattered

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Meanwhile, Republican congressional candidates who had scrabbled to put distance between themselves and their nominee after the ugly TV debates found themselves riding to victory on Mr Trump’s coattails. Republicans held most of their seats in the Senate races, and will be savouring the chance to extend their majority in 2018, when the beneficiaries of the Obama re-election wave of 2012 face the voters. More predictably, the House remained firmly in Republican hands too; Speaker Paul Ryan and his lieutenants have more to fear from their own party grassroots and from a perhaps vengeful new man in the White House than they do from the shattered Democrats, for whom this outcome is the sum of all fears.

President Trump is the shock heard round the world. Now that he has won, the instant explanations have already started to flood in: that the mobilisation (or not) of this or that demographic was decisive; that he tapped the angry anti-establishment mood; that he spoke for millions who felt abandoned by the prosperous and progressive; that American nativism was always far stronger than liberals wanted to think; that he was a celebrity candidate for the celebrity-obsessed age; that he rode the tiger of post-truth politics; that making America great again was a cut-through message in a militaristic and imperial nation; that white men (and many white women) had had it with political correctness; that misogyny swung it; that the mainstream media failed to call him out; that it is a verdict on the Barack Obama years; that Mrs Clinton was always the wrong candidate; that there was racist dirty work in the voting system; that it was the Russians who won it for him.

None of these explanations are irrelevant. All of them have something to say. But beware of instant certainties. As with Brexit, in the immediate aftermath of a huge upset, a period of careful evidence-gathering and reflection is in order. This is not to diminish the immense seriousness of what happened on Tuesday. Nor is it to understate the anxieties about what lies ahead as Mr Obama steps back and Mr Trump takes over.

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Donald J. Trump conquers Washington DC and The Republics controls Congress

Four particular fears now stand out. The first is the unleashing of an unbridled conservative agenda in Washington, now that the Republicans control the White House and Capitol Hill together, a rare thing in the past hundred years. In her dignified concession speech Mrs Clinton rightly emphasised the need to defend democratic values; she might have drawn attention to President Obama’s legacy on healthcare and climate change too. Mr Trump and the congressional Republicans have differences; he is more prepared to use the power of government than many of them are. But they have a clear path now towards reshaping the supreme court and dozens of lower-tier judicial benches in their own image. The effect on race, gender and sexual-equality issues is likely to outlast Mr Trump’s period in office. The culture wars will reopen. Abortion rights are threatened.

Racial impact

The second is the impact of this result on race in America more widely. Mr Trump campaigned against migrants and against Muslims, insulted black and Latino Americans, launched ads that some saw as covertly antisemitic, and was cheered to victory by every white racist in the land. His voters – a Brexit echo again – will want him to deliver. Every action he takes in this area threatens to divide and inflame. After a half-century of uneven but undeniable racial progress in America, the consequences of every attempt to turn back the clock could be dire.

The third fear is whether Mr Trump has any economic plan that will deliver for some of the poor communities that gave him their votes so solidly. Mr Trump connected with the anger that many poor and white voters feel. But what can he really do about it? What do most congressional Republicans care about it? He can try to put up all the protectionist walls he likes. That will please his supporters. But it is difficult to see how he can bring old mines, mills and factories back to life. A lot of Americans feel left behind and let down. However, Mr Trump is playing with fire if, in the end, it becomes clear that he has used their anxieties to again advance himself and the urban rich class to which he belongs.

The final and overarching fear, though, is for the world. Mr Trump’s win means uncertainty about America’s future strategy in a world that has long relied on the United States for stability. But Mr Trump’s capacity to destabilise is almost limitless. His military, diplomatic, security, environmental and trade policies all have the capacity to change the world for the worse. Americans have done a very dangerous thing this week. Because of what they have done we all face dark, uncertain and fearful times.