Addressing the graduating class at Wellesley College last week, Hillary Clinton’s commencement speech urged students to fight against “alternative facts” and unite around the truth.
“You are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason. Just log on to social media for 10 seconds. It will hit you right in the face,” she said.
This has the effect of “[t]urning neighbor against neighbor and sowing division at a time when we desperately need unity,” she continued.
The sentiment was an odd one considering that she’s spent the denouement to her political career assaulting the truth about her loss and tossing out fact-free conspiracy theories in order to further the political divisions of our country. Her latest treatise in bitterness came in a conversation she had at Recode’s 2017 Code Conference.
“I take responsibility for every decision I made, but that’s not why I lost,” she said. “I think it’s important we learn the real lessons of this last campaign.”
This is a patented Clinton maneuver – briefly claim to take “responsibility” for an action or an outcome and then elaborate on why she isn’t in fact responsible. She attempted it following her husband’s extramarital affair in the White House, claiming that there was a “vast right-wing conspiracy” out to get them. She attempted it following her out-of-nowhere loss to Barack Obama, in which she used racially tinged comments to divide the Democrat electorate. She attempted it when she finally admitted that using a private email server was a bad idea for political reasons, but never conceded that she did anything wrong or even put classified information at risk. And she’s attempting it now, refusing to admit that her loss to President Donald Trump was due to her failings as a candidate, not some laundry list of conspiracy theories.
And boy is that list long.
She blamed shadowy “forces in our country” that “have been fighting rear-guard actions” to not only keep society from progressing, but that work to “turn back the clock.”
She blamed Republicans for being both better at messaging and using their skill to offer up false messages. She believed that her campaign was going to be “Obama 3.0” with “better targeting, better messaging, and the ability to turn out voters as we identified them,” only to discover that Republicans’ “content farms” were making an “investment in falsehoods.”
She blamed the Democrat Party for being so poorly organized. “I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party,” Clinton told the Recode audience. “I mean it was bankrupt, it was on the verge of insolvency, its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong.”
She blamed myriad other things including “voter suppression” and “unaccountable money” and the “Comey letter,” and the media who covered the letter “like it was Pearl Harbor,” and the “historic tide” of succeeding a two-term president from the same party,” and a “broad assumption that I was going to win,” and the sexism that makes women get “less likeable” as they get more successful.
We’ve heard all of these excuses before. But here she offers up something new, “a vast Russian conspiracy,” (her words) to rival her “vast right-wing conspiracy” of old.
She began with an indisputable fact. “The Russians historically in the last couple of decades and then increasingly, you know, are launching cyber attacks, and they are stealing vast amounts of information,” she told the audience. But then she launched straight into tin foil hat land.
“[The Russians] could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided,” Clinton claimed. “Guided by Americans and guided by people who had polling and data information.”
Then Clinton began to name names. “And I think again, we better understand the Mercers did not invest all that money just for their own amusement,” she said. “We know they played in Brexit, and we know that they came to Jared Kushner and basically said, ‘We will marry our operation,’ which was more as it’s been described, psychographic sentiment, a lot of harvesting Facebook information.”
Is any of that true? Doubtful. But Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal, offers up some indisputable facts:
The truth is Bernie Sanders destroyed Mrs. Clinton’s chance of winning by almost knocking her off, and in the process revealing her party’s base had changed. Her plodding, charmless, insincere style of campaigning defeated her. Bad decisions in her campaign approach to the battleground states did it; a long history of personal scandals did it; fat Wall Street speeches did it; the Clinton Foundation’s bloat and chicanery did it—and most of all the sense that she ultimately stands for nothing but Hillary did it.
Before Hillary Clinton tells graduates about the “assault on truth and reason,” the least she could do is level with Americans about the reasons she lost.