There’s this scene from the seminal movie A Night To Remember where Kenneth More’s character, Second Officer Charles Lightoller, is having a discussion with a passenger in one of the Titanic’s lifeboats as the rescue ship Carpathia arrives on the scene to pick up the survivors, and it goes like this:
Passenger: “Would that be the Carpathia?”
Passenger: “Aren’t you glad to see her?”
Lightoller: “Yes, I’m glad, but then I’m still alive.”
Passenger: “If only she’d been nearer.”
Lightoller: “There’s a lot of ifs, aren’t there? If we been steaming a few knots slower, or if we’d spotted that berg a few seconds earlier, we might not even have struck. If we’d carry enough lifeboats for the size of the ship instead of just enough to meet the regulations, things would’ve been different again wouldn’t they?”
It was one of the more poignant moments in the epic disaster film that to this day still stands as the best depiction of the events on board the doomed ship, but it was all fake. The truth is that Lightoller, to his dying day, could never bring himself to acknowledge what truly happened on that fateful night of April 14, 1912. He blamed the disaster on many things: the berg had recently overturned so it was too dark to spot; the lack of a moon meant that visibility was limited; the ocean was a flat calm so there was no breaking water around the berg. Indeed, it seemed all the elements had conspired against them that night to bring about the calamity: one which Lightoller insisted was a once in a century event. Never did it occur to him that the principle cause of the disaster was gross incompetence on an epic scale. And if it did occur to him, he certainly never admitted it publicly.
How could he? Denial, it seems, isn’t just a river in Egypt.
Listening to Hillary Clinton give excuse after excuse about why she lost to Donald Trump got me thinking about that scene and about Lightoller. I wonder what some actress portraying Clinton in the future might say about the events of November 8, 2016. Perhaps she, like Kenneth More, might be humble enough to admit the obvious. And then, just like in 1958, poetic license would have its way. For you see in the movies, life imitates art, not the other way around.
But movies, no matter how realistic they may look, aren’t real; they are vehicles which allow the audience to escape into a make-believe world where fiction is fact and reality is in the eye of the beholder. And that is a world that Hillary and her supporters are trapped in.
I’ve about had it up to here with Clinton blaming everyone but herself for last November’s debacle. Can you believe it, now it’s the DNC’s fault that she lost to Trump? Yes, it’s true, the Democratic National Committee is the latest villain in the never-ending saga of “Who Stole Hillary’s Election.”
So far her list of bad guys consists of James Comey, the FBI, Vladimir Putin, Wiki-Leaks, Bernie’s supporters, the racists, the sexists, the New York Times (apparently good journalism is bad for some political candidates) and now the DNC, the very organization that practically dry-humped her leg all throughout the primaries. I swear if Clinton had stopped short just once, it would’ve taken a crane to pry the DNC out of her ass. And now, she’s turning on them. How typical.
My God, what is it about the Clintons that they can never bring themselves to accept responsibility for their own actions? I bet Bill still believes that his meeting with Loretta Lynch was completely innocent. And why shouldn’t he? The man got a blow job in the Oval Office from an intern and survived, so what’s a little conflict of interest during a criminal investigation?
I have bent over backwards giving Hillary Clinton the benefit of the doubt. I believed then, and still do, that had she won the election she would’ve made a very good president, perhaps a great one. And not just because of the shit-for-brains man-child that currently holds the job, but because her resume speaks for itself. She was a tireless advocate for women’s rights as first lady; she was a damn good senator from my home state; and, in spit of what the bat-shit contingent on the Right keep saying about her, she was a more than adequate secretary of state. Indeed, her husband was the first Democrat to win two terms in office since FDR. The list of accomplishments for the Clinton family is considerable and honorable. They and their party should be proud.
But the problems that have plagued the Clintons over the years have had little to do with their professional lives, but rather their private ones. If they had a theme song it would be “You’re Living In Your Own Private Idaho.” I’ve heard of people who live in bubbles, but this family takes the cake. For them, admitting to a wrong is like pulling a tooth from a tiger in the wild – without a tranquilizer.
And the sad thing about it is that it was never the actual act that proved to be their undoing, but rather their response to it. Bill gets a B.J. and spends the next three months denying it; Hillary has a private email server discovered and goes on a Ralph Kramden “Hamana, Hamana” rationalization tour. Even after Comey called her on the carpet last July, she does an interview with Chris Wallace and, with a straight face, insists the FBI said she was innocent. Anyone who with two ears and half a brain, however, knew different.
It’s one thing to be stabbed in the back by your opponents; it’s quite another to push the blade in with your own hand. And that is exactly what the Clintons have done for most of their political lives. True, they’ve been the victims of some of the most vile and despicable conspiracy theories ever concocted. And equally true, the press and the media have done a mediocre job at best of debunking most of them. But who said politics was fair, or decent for that matter? As the saying goes, if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.
So this is my message to Hillary Clinton: if you’re looking for the person most responsible for putting Donald Trump in the White House, I suggest you look at the woman staring back at you in the mirror. Because she’s the real villain in this tragedy. No one else.
Yes, Comey screwed you; and yes, Putin had it in for you; and the blame that NAFTA received for all those blue-collar job losses in Ohio and Michigan was completely overblown. I’ll grant you all of that. But it wasn’t Comey who decided not to visit Wisconsin once during the general election. Nor was it Putin who thought having a private email server in your basement was a swell idea. Those were all your doing. You don’t get to go full speed ahead through an ice field and then blame the berg. It doesn’t work that way.
You’re pissed, and your pride is wounded. I get it. You were supposed to win in a landslide and you lost. There will forever be an asterisk next to the 2016 presidential election, and people for generations to come will remember you not for your service as first lady, or senator, or secretary of state, but as the person who gave us Trump. That’s a heavy burden to carry. You are the Baltimore Orioles of politics, only it wasn’t the Miracle Mets who beat you, it was the Bad News Bears.
And now you’re embarking on yet another tour. You’re going after Trump the way attorneys re-litigate the cases they’ve lost. Unfortunately, that never changes the jury’s verdict. Nothing will ever undo November 8, anymore than replaying the Titanic disaster will make the great ship reappear or the 1500 lives that were lost restored. Time only flows in one direction: forward. The future belongs to those who can let go of the past. And, sadly, that is not you.
You are consumed by all the what ifs; what if this and what if that. That is certainly your right, but you don’t have the right to take the entire Democratic Party down Recrimination Lane with you. There is too damn much at stake for such nonsense. What Trump is doing to this nation, dictators do to third-world countries. He must be stopped.
If you insist on throwing a pity party, knock yourself out, but leave us out. This is no time for pity. There’s a special election in Georgia this month that will go a long way towards determining whether the Democrats have a shot at taking back the House. They need to win it by hook or crook. Then there are the 2018 midterms themselves. A net gain of 24 seats and they will be able to stop der Führer in his tracks. To achieve that goal, they will need to focus all their energy on constructing a message that will resonate with voters, not licking your wounds for you.
Face it, it’s over. You and your husband have had quite a ride. Bill a two-term president; you a two-term senator and secretary of state. That’s more than most couples could ever hope for. And now, for the good of the Party, the country and whole fucking planet, it’s time to pack it in. You’ve written your book, now go back to Chappaqua. They love you there; hell they love you in a lot of places, just not in the places where you got your ass handed to you, which geographically speaking covers a lot of ground.
The Democratic Party needs new blood and new leadership if it is to regain its once lofty status. It’s amazing to consider, but just eight short years ago, it was the GOP that was the party on the run, bereft of ideas and hopelessly tied to a shrinking demographic. Funny how things can turn on a dime.
I implore you as one Democrat to another: if you truly love your country and would like to make one last contribution to its future, then do the right thing. Release the grip you and your husband have on this party. Allow it to regroup and heal.
Rick said goodbye to Ilsa; Willie Mays said goodbye to baseball. It’s time for you to say goodbye to politics. And the sooner the better.
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