The morning the book released, I opened my audiobook application and took a deep breath. This is it, I told myself. Maybe, after this, I can move on from the grief. It sounds silly that I still grieve an election that occurred over ten months ago, but I do. It’s a weighted lanyard I carry that I cannot shake. I thought this election post-mortem, written by the woman I wanted to call “Madam President,” would allow me to dissolve the sadness and continue to galvanize my resolve.
While it definitely accomplished the latter, the former turns out to be somewhat more complicated that I assumed. The sadness isn’t lifted. Instead, it’s shifted its weight from under the burden of the loss of the election, to the burden of the loss of for the whole of the country, and laced with more than a little passion. For ten months, I’ve felt a burning heat in my core directing me to protest, lobby, send letters, make calls, vote in my primary for candidates I believe in, and more than ever — volunteer. Don’t get it twisted, my passion is not merely some impotent rage with no outlet. It’s righteous indignation, and it’s aimed primarily at 2018.
In What Happened, we see not only the brilliant mind of an expert politician, but also into the soul of someone who was just absolutely robbed. She starts the book with a bang — the inauguration. She jokes about mistaking republican congressman and soon-to-be forgotten troll Jason Chaffetz for the waffling kowtower Reince Priebus, (whose whole name bugs the crap out of me for the ei/ie thing). It was the first zing, of the book, but certainly not the last. She tells us how President George W Bush was all of us at the inauguration, telling Secretary Clinton,
That was some weird shit.
President George W. Bush. 1/20/17
She continues on beyond that horrible day to do what she does best as a self-professed policy wonk and details woman, and dissects the events leading up to election day, and the dangers we’ve since accrued. She admits that her campaign made mistakes, and in an election period lasting 20 months, it’s no wonder. I can’t go 20 months without putting my foot in it, or doing something I’d rather not have done, how could it be possible for a nomination machine to rack up fewer than just me? The difference is that very few people are judging me for mistakes I’ve made, and she’s had the whole world judging her for 25 years, many of which are rooting for her demise.
A moment I find particularly interesting is one in which she was made to feel scared and vulnerable by Trump. In the town hall style debate, two days after the release of the notorious Access Hollywood “pussy” tapes, in which the current president laughs and jokes about sexually assaulting women, Trump loomed behind Secretary Clinton like an imposing abuser. He hovered on her periphery like some specter of lost civility. Clinton writes that it made her “skin crawl,” and laments not telling him to back up.
I don’t blame her for this. We as women are conditioned to ignore, ignore, ignore the inappropriate attentions of men, lest we want that attention to escalate. It’s never the fault of the man, the onus of the action is almost always lain at the feet of the woman. “She was asking for it.” “It’s just locker room talk.” “He’s just a big guy, it’s natural to be intimidated.” We’re told that we’re the ones who are wrong for being scared, triggered, ill-equipped to handle such an imposing figure of masculinity. That it’s our fault men can’t control their actions, and that we should be held accountable — not them. It’s understandable that she would do her best to act like her opponent weren’t trying to scare and intimidate her behind her back. After all, had she said something, the Mercer media would’ve pounced, calling her weak and little, regardless of the fact that this tactic performed by the leader of the free world is closer to that of a conscious-less beast than to any semblance of commander.
Through the alembic of time, Clinton writes a brilliant, scathing campaign trail post script to all of those who failed in their duties and helped Trump win the election. While it would be fun to slog through each of the main actors in Putin’s plot, I’d likely require a thesis of my own, and that’s not really a readable format for a recipe and book blog. The characters who stuck out the most to me while I was reading are James Comey, Matt Lauer, and the political staff at The New York Times, because these actors claim objectivity and respect for the democratic process, when in reality, they were used as pawns for Putin’s progress towards demolishing our state.
Matt Lauer may not take up much space on the pages, but his role in the election of Trump is the perfect example of the insidious nature of the machine that cranked against Clinton. She recounts with depressing clarity the discussion/interview style town hall that Lauer moderated. Lauer, whose own history is littered with instances of his inability to cope with intelligent, outspoken women treated what should’ve been an opportunity to examine Clinton’s policy on foreign relations and national security, and instead, decided to act as the claw of the bear and dominate Clinton’s time with insulting questions about her emails. This was egregious not only because Lauer hyped the event as an in-depth look into the minds of our future leader, but also because of the softball questions and folksy, convivial tone he took with Trump.
The next is the breaking news and political staff of the New York Times, maligned by essentially everyone after the election. Their incessant coverage of every possible angle of the email non-scandal, combined with their decided lack of coverage of the actual speeches Clinton made on the trail, and really nothing on her ideas, bordered on the obscene. It wasn’t until the campaign situation became dire, and then again after Trump won, that they seemed to offer any sort of mea culpa. I understand click-bait. I get how much it must cost to run a paper as large as the Times, but this wasn’t journalism; this was the equivalent of a kid blowing up a balloon, cheering as the latex stretches larger and larger, only to cry and ask for a new balloon when they’re left with the remnants of their own inflation.Like the review? Tweet about it.Click To Tweet
That leaves Comey. I always thought the person I would set the most blame upon for Clinton’s loss would be Bernie Sanders. Yes, Bernie Sanders definitely played a heavy role in her defeat, but it looks like a child’s chess move compared to Comey. This man was supposed to be one of the highest leaders of law in our country, and yet he skewered Clinton’s campaign as effectively as Breitbart. For such a tall man, he appeared easily intimidated by how people (on the right) perceived him and his actions. He took time out of his real, legitimate investigation of the Russian influence on the election and the possible ties to the Trump campaign just to blow a foghorn alert about Clinton’s emails. There was nothing new found or gained from it, but he was so worried the right would claim he played politics had she won and the investigation continued, that he decided to hamstring Clinton instead. This was all while he stayed as silent as Moscow during the fall of the U.S.S.R. about the very real likelihood that Trump or his comrades were in collusion with our number one political world threat.
Comey is one of those people I envision telling off when I meditate. (You picture pleasant seascapes, I think of all the ways I can tell a person to eff off. To each their own.) He’s a tall man, 6’8″, but I’m a 6′ tall woman, and when I put on my favorite heels, I stand a mean 6’6″ tall. I dream about being able to whisper in his ear like so few women could “how does it feel to know you helped ruin the country because you were afraid of Mitch McConnell?” It may not affect him at all, but it would make me feel slightly appeased for about 10 minutes.
As gratifying as it was to revel in the truth of the wrongs wrought against her, in the end, that’s not even what the book’s about, even if the title implies it. The book is about a woman, a feeling, thinking, smart woman, who was placed on a pile of sticks surrounded by torch-wielding villagers before she was ever allowed to plead her case. It was both bliss and torture to listen to her recite the words about her mother and our country that she would’ve said in her acceptance speech. It was hard to listen to her talk about policy and her love of the country, because it is us who were robbed beside her. It’s about where we go from here, and how we fight. It’s not a road map, but a starter pistol, and I have lots of experience lacing up my running shoes. Do you? Because you are powerful and valuable, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.
Resist, insist, persist, enlist.
Fifty stars and thirteen stripes.
“I suppose I could’ve stayed home, baked cookies and had teas.” A quote taken out of context at the time, but is now a rallying cry for feminists. Of course I had to make cookies with tea in them. Green tea — the caffeine heavy tea that gives you energy for the trail.
What Goes In?
- 1 stick softened butter
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup matcha powder
- 1 2/3 cup flour
- 2 cups mini chocolate chips
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- preheat oven to 350F
- line 2 cookie sheets with silpat or parchment
- cream butter and sugar in mixer on high
- turn to medium low
- add eggs one at a time
- mix until glossy
- add vanilla
- sift together dry ingredients save chips
- add into butter mixture on low, slowly
- turn off
- stir in chips
- scoop 1-2 tbsp scoops 2 tbsp apart
- cook 10-12 minutes or until bottom edges almost turn golden
- cool ON COOKIE SHEET