The Destruction of Hillary Clinton
a book by Susan Bordo
(our site's book review)
Gossip is easy. Get to the deeper truth, with this in-depth look at the political forces and media culture that vilified and ultimately brought down Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign.
The Destruction of Hillary Clinton is an answer to the question many have been asking: How did an extraordinarily well-qualified, experienced, and admired candidate—whose victory would have been as historic as Barack Obama's—come to be seen as a tool of the establishment, a chronic liar, and a talentless politician?
In this masterful narrative of the 2016 campaign year and the events that led up to it, Susan Bordo unpacks the Right's assault on Clinton and her reputation, the way the left provoked suspicion and indifference among the youth vote, the inescapable presence of James Comey, questions about Russian influence, and the media's malpractice in covering the candidate.
Urgent, insightful, and engrossing, The Destruction of Hillary Clinton is an essential guide to understanding the most controversial presidential election in American history.
"Thoroughly researched... What is so satisfying — and devastating — about Bordo’s book is the way she lays it all out, weaving it together into a clear picture that allows the reader, whether they were cognizant for the Clinton Era or not, to see exactly what happened to HRC. Bordo has successfully picked apart the various threads of unfairness (there are so many that sometimes one struggles to think about it) that brought us to the conventional Hillary narrative that destroyed her.”—Bust
“For the many of us still shell-shocked by this unrecognizable America, Bordo’s book offers a clear analysis of how a candidate who received the overwhelming majority of the popular vote, did not win the presidency.” —The Forward
"Vital. An important...examination of the strange political life of Hillary Clinton."—Salon
"Bordo’s feminist analysis is concise and incisive...A large part of Bordo’s objective with this book is to counter the deep trove of misogynist material that has been used to discredit Hillary throughout the decades. In this regard, Bordo faces a nearly impossible task—a lone voice in the winds of misogyny. But it is admirable. Openly loving Hillary Clinton is, indeed, a radical act."—Quartz
The media's war on Hillary was decades-long fake news
Hillary's loss, according to Amazon reviewer Ivan Tonka, can be mostly attributed to:
- A media that is profit and ratings driven and that mostly abdicated it's responsibility for truth finding in favor of horse race coverage and false equivalencies—see Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion
- A highly profitable and decades-long rightwing smear campaign
- Bernie bros and the "Bernie-or-bust" call-out campaign from the left that threw Hillary out of their self-defined "progressive" camp (or should we say "socialist"?)—maybe she just didn't "Feel the Bern"
- A rogue FBI Director who acted like he wanted to throw the election at any cost—his excuses for ambushing Hillary a few days before a critical presidential election are pathetic and transparent and displayed much more about his character than hers—and Obama didn't even fire him for violating the ethics of his position
- Entrenched misogyny and gendered ideas of leadership
The rightwing pundits have been deliberately sabotaging Hillary Clinton for decades and few reputable journalists have been acting responsibly and calling them on it
As Bordo sees it, "The destruction of Hillary Clinton, . . . while propelled by a perfect storm of sexism, partisan politics and media madness, was bookended by two immensely powerful assaults. One was the inappropriate, inaccurate and inflammatory interference in the general election by FBI director James Comey. . . . Democrats made it very clear (in newspaper and internet interviews, in polls, and in the mainstream media) that they were only voting for Hillary Clinton as the lesser of two evils, 'holding their noses', tears still streaming down their faces over the primary defeat of the person (Bernie) they felt truly deserved their votes." These voters wanted real change, not 4 more years of business as usual.
Obama wants you to believe I AM NOT A CROOK, but you know better—he should have been impeached!
Hillary was going to continue the Obama disaster, obsessions about political correctness, Black Lives Matter obsessions, liberal universities going overboard with over-affirmative action, microaggressions, and so on. Business as usual under Obama, the king of liars, had been a huge disapointment to most of them. To those liberals who were paying attention, Obama was Bush 2.0 with darker skin, not only not cancelling Dubya's neocon warmongering, but exacerbating it so that drone murdering increased and the Middle East situation got bungled so horribly that ISIS was formed.
Obama loved playing God—deciding which terrorist suspect dies and which one lives, using drones as Obama-God's lightning to smite his foes—he did this much more than Dubya ever did
These are but samples of the Obama disaster. There are more: The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama, How Obama Betrayed America....And No One Is Holding Him Accountable, The Corruption Chronicles: Obama's Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government, Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington, The Left in Power: Clinton to Obama: Black Book of the American Left: Volume VII, and Obama's Enemies List: How Barack Obama Intimidated America and Stole the Election.
Bernie Sanders splintered and ultimately sabotaged the Democratic party—not because he chose to run against Hillary Clinton, but because of HOW he ran against her—in a scorched earth mode
"And as much as I am in agreement with many of his ideas, Bernie Sanders splintered and ultimately sabotaged the Democratic party—not because he chose to run against Hillary Clinton, but because of how he ran against her," says Bordo. He lost the race for the democrats just as Ralph Nader lost it for Democrats in the 2000 election—although some people dispute that. In both cases, it is as though these people had been promised a small fortune under the table if they'd splinter the Democrats so the Republicans could win electorally, albeit not popularly. This probably didn't happen, but the effect was the same as if they'd purposely sabotaged the races. What apparently happened was that Ralph's and Bernie's egos were prioritized over the election results. But there is more to it than that.
A guest on the History News Network, Kevin Schmidt, put it rather cynically, but facts are facts:
"Oh look, it's another over the top, angry, emotional, illogical misanthropic Hillary shill troll, who wants to elect a fascist pig JUST because the fascist pig is a woman.
Bill Clinton slaughtered over 500,000 innocent civilians in Iraq [with his barbaric sanctions that starved them].
He also signed NAFTA and other free trade treaties that decimated the manufacturing base in America, and helped keep wages from increasing for the past 35 years.
He also helped eliminate the banking laws, that then enabled the Wall Street Banksters to rip off the working class and cause the Great Recession. [This was unforgiveable and it really did cause the 2008 disaster.]
Hillary has proven to be in bed with Wall Street, the banksters and the fossil fuel monopoly.
Hillary wants to pass TPP for the corporations, which will destroy what is left of the Constitution.
That makes her a political whore, just like her husband, just like Obama, and just like most members of Congress in the Democratic-Republican Corporate Duopoly Party, Inc."
Clinton saying he didn't have sex with Monica
Fran Shor put it like this: "what led up to Nader’s [decision to have a] presidential campaign [was these things:] The Clinton presidency was replete with policies that led to economic and social injustice, neoliberal globalization, and global humanitarian travesties. As Michelle Alexander and others have documented, Clinton’s support for the Omnibus Crime Bill of 1994 with mandatory sentencing and expansion of the drug war and death penalties led to mass incarceration on an enormous racialized scale. . . . It was revulsion with these policies, and Gore’s obvious fealty to them, that led to Nader’s campaign in the 2000 Presidential election." (Source: It’s Time to Put Ralph Nader’s Role in the 2000 Election into Historical Perspective, Fran Shor, History News Network)
So Gore was planning to be Clinton 2.0 except a lot more environmental emphasis and Nader wanted none of it—he wanted to stop all of the Clinton madness. Had he realized that Dubya was going to be a disaster on a cosmic scale, would he have still run? Who can say? And Sanders was in a similar position with Hillary. She was planning to be Obama 2.0 in a skirt and those wise enough to see what a disaster Obama was, like Bernie, wanted none of it. So, spoiler or not, he ran. The problem was that he kept saying the word socialism. He knew that was a nonstarter for all Americans except open-minded superliberal millennials, who weren't even alive when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) existed, threatening us with all their nukes. They were also too naive to realize that the shadow government neocons would never allow us to divert the funds from the phony war on terror to social needs without Bernie getting a bullet in the head like JFK did for not following the neocons' orders about the Vietnam War, orders LBJ was happy to follow, sentencing 58,000 soldiers to death for nothing except pleasing a few greedy oligarchs. So why did Bernie keep saying the ugly S word, making the older half of the electorate cringe and queering his chances? Because he was an idealist, not a realist. He didn't want to win. He just wanted to pull Hillary leftwards, which he did. But he also made her look bad and this cost her the election.
We disagree that Ralph wasn't the cause of Al's defeat—Ralph even admitted that he preferred Dubya to Gore! But Ralph wasn't the cause of Al's defeat because of his direct effect on votes by competing. It was because Ralph revealed too much ugliness of the Clinton regime's disastrous policies—people on the fence went over it to Dubya. The same happened with Bernie and Donald, except that Bernie revealed that the Obama presidency was Bill Clinton 2.0, and those that understood the evils of the Clinton regime were loath to vote for either Bill in a skirt or Obama in a skirt or Hillary wearing anything. Bill had been popular because of charisma and because the public were so ignorant about his disastrous policies and willing to forgive his Monica affair.
It was the same Clinton-policy-reluctance about Hillary for Democrats, but the decades-long rightwing compaign to smear her had wrecked her chances for all Republicans (although 11% of Republicans refused to vote for Trump) and wrecked her chances for most millennial Democrats, but she won by 3 million votes because of fear of Trump, although the electoral college fiasco kept her from winning the presidency. It was an avoidance vote, not an approach vote, as the behaviorists would say, making Trump the equivalent of an electric shock applied to a rat in a Skinner conditioning box, and making Hillary not equivalent to an approachable food pellet but merely the concept "anyone but Trump."
For millions, voting for Hillary was an avoidance vote, not an approach vote, as the behaviorists would say, making Trump the equivalent of an electric shock applied to a rat in a Skinner conditioning box
In Shattered, it was asserted that Hillary was a disconnected, indifferent and exhausted leader who hid behind aides such as Huma Abedin. She is a bad manager as well as a bad communicator, a technocrat who placed her faith in the wrong data, a half-hearted politician who could not nail the delivery of a single speech. Bordo, however, sees that Hillary's image was warped by the sexist press, turned into a cold, conniving, unpopular figure she really wasn’t. She had no control of her narrative, particularly as it was shaped by the media. In culture, controlling the narrative is key to gaining authority. That is why women have historically been denied the right to control their narratives, along with their lives and bodies. Hillary Clinton’s experience was all women’s experience, magnified on a national scale, says Bordo. A woman who gets loud and assertive is a bitch and a witch, but a male doing the same thing is manly and charismatic. The game is rigged. (Source: The real reason Hillary Clinton lost the US election, Marcie Bianco, qz.com)
The rightwing image of Hillary as bitch-witch was more interesting to the ratings-seeking press than Hillary the accomplished, so this image guided the narrative. The game is rigged!
"Most significantly, this account [the Secretary of State role negatively recast as Benghazi villain] situates the reworking of Hillary’s achievements and minor errors into the devious schemes of a fairy-tale witch alongside the bizarre forgiveness of Trump for much greater crimes. Even the force of more than a dozen women alleging that Trump sexually harassed them could not eclipse the manufactured outrage over Clinton’s legal use of a private email server. The false picture of who Clinton was, aided by the mainstream media, convinced almost five million Obama voters not to vote at all or to vote for someone else other than Clinton. Bordo’s explanation for how these voters—not misogynists, not automatic Trump voters—came to see “elitist”, “corporate whore” Hillary as unsupportable is important for us all to digest, especially if we ever hope to see a woman lead the United States. If we continue to accept black-and-white characterisations of powerful women as wicked, then we might be waiting a very long time." (Source: Inventing the Wicked Witch: Review of Susan Bordo’s The Destruction of Hillary Clinton, Michelle Smith, The Conversation)
Clinton has always been, in Bordo's well-wrought phrase, a 'living Rorschach test of people's nightmare images of female power'
"Clinton has always been, in Bordo's well-wrought phrase, a 'living Rorschach test of people's nightmare images of female power'. Naturally enough, when Clinton aimed for the top job the misogyny reached 'almost medieval' heights with 'snarling interrogations worthy of a trial for witchcraft'," says Jonathan Wright. (Source: Review: The Destruction of Hillary Clinton by Susan Bordo, Jonathan Wright, Sunday Herald)
The woman who was defeated in the 2016 election wasn’t Hillary Clinton, or even a real person at all, says Bordo. She was “a caricature forged out of the stew of unexamined sexism, unprincipled partisanship, irresponsible politics, and a mass media too absorbed in 'optics' to pay enough attention to separating facts from rumors, lies, and speculation.—Bust
A book that finds Hillary's character lacking: Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate.
A book written by Hillary that is probably the best book ever written by a first lady: It Takes a Village. Here is the special 10th anniversary version: It Takes a Village, Tenth Anniversary Edition.