How on earth could an experienced politician like Hillary Clinton, anointed by Barack Obama as his successor, backed by the Democratic Party elite, and by the bankers of Wall Street, and with the active collusion of main stream media, lose to an obnoxious, loud-mouthed narcissist like Donald Trump?
Was it the Russians? Was it James Comey and the FBI investigation? Was it foul play by Trump and his redneck supporters?
The internet has seethed for the best part of a year seeking an explanation to Clinton’s epic failure. It looked for a while as though the 30,000 personal emails from her home computer, published by Wikileaks, could settle the issue with cold, hard facts.
The problem has been that, quite simply, hardly anyone has enough time or enough knowledge of the minutiae of American domestic and foreign policies to go through so many documents and evaluate them dispassionately and in detail.
But now someone has – Joe Lauria in his book “How I lost by Hillary Clinton (and Goldman Sachs won)”.
When I first saw the book cover on social media I assumed that the title was just another satirical Facebook meme, based on a phony cover – a piece of fake news by gloating Republican supporters . But the book is very real and the title is fully justified because Lauria uses Clinton’s own words to explain why she lost the campaign.
Lauria is a heavyweight political journalist and foreign correspondent (see note at the end of this blog for his credentials). He was a U.N. correspondent for 25 years including stints for the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe and covered every major world crisis in that time. He’s written for most major U.S. and U.K. daily newspapers, including The Sunday Times, and he’s interviewed numerous presidents, prime ministers, and foreign ministers, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
In his book, Lauria dispassionately weighs the allegations against Hillary in the light of the famous leaked emails, which he forensically dissects. The result isn’t pretty if you’re a Bill and Hillary fan.
Some of the quotes, which are completely new to me, are truly cringe-making – as bad in their own way as anything Trump said. Bill Clinton, for example, explained the phenomenon of Jeremy Corbyn emerging in British politics saying that Labour, “Practically went out and got a guy off the streets to be the leader” of the party. “When people feel they’ve been shafted and they don’t expect much to happen anyway, they just want the maddest guy in the room to represent them.”
If Bill is cynical, Hillary is more than a match for him. Says Lauria, “[Hillary]Clinton’s own words in this book portray an economic and political elitist and a foreign policy hawk divorced from the serious concerns of ordinary Americans – the very people she needed to vote for her.”
Hillary admits herself that she is “far removed” from the people because of “the fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy”.
It was, says Lauria, “easy for ordinary Americans to suspect Hillary Clinton was an opportunist unconcerned with their lives. While she was in the Senate, and later, as secretary of State, the Clinton Foundation appeared to trade political favours for huge sums of money to pay for the Foundation’s in-house charitable work and a jet-set lifestyle for those at its head. Some of the emails you are about to read shed light on this shady business that raised deep concerns with the voters in the 2016 election.”
Hillary made 91 speeches for which she was paid $21 million, including $675,000 for three speeches she made to Goldman Sachs, the “vampire squid” of Wall Street. These speeches, says Lauria, contain “striking evidence of her aloofness from average Americans.”
Aware of this danger, Clinton refused to reveal the content of her Goldman Sachs speeches, even when pressed hard by the media. The New York Times urged her to release the transcripts, saying in an editorial, “’Everybody does it’, is an excuse expected from a mischievous child, not a Presidential candidate, but that is Hillary Clinton’s latest defense for making closed-door, richly paid speeches to big banks, which many middle-class Americans still blame for their economic pain, and then refusing to release the transcripts.”
But if the words she concealed harmed her with the electorate, some of the words she spoke in public did even more damage with working class voters – the people that the Democrats were supposed to champion. She famously said that “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call ‘the basket of deplorables’. Anyone who was considering voting for Trump would have been left wondering if they were “deplorable”.
But if her shady cash-for-access dealings and her cosy relationship with the big banks were causing concern with voters, it was her record as a hawk that had them really worried.
Clinton has been a central figure in the U.S. foreign policy establishment for more than a decade, and especially as Obama’s Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.
After the Cold War ended, Bill Clinton reacted to the Soviet Union’s collapse by expanding NATO up to Russia’s borders and by intervening militarily against Russia’s ally, Serbia. Says Lauria, “The blueprint for U.S. global dominance was laid out during the Clinton administration in the Statement of Principles of neoconservative think tank The Project for a New American Century. It pushed for challenging regimes “hostile to our interests and values”, and the creation of a so-called “benevolent global hegemony” which has actually resulted in enriching American and allied elites at the expense of everyone else.”
This thinking, he says, was behind the Obama administration-supported coups in Honduras and Ukraine, the attacks on Libya and the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq, supported by Hillary Clinton – support which cost her the 2008 presidential nomination.
During her 2008 presidential campaign, Clinton said she would “obliterate” Iran if it ever attacked Israel. She also refused to rule out military action to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
Lauria says that, “Clinton was the moving force in 2011 in convincing a reluctant President Obama to overthrow Lybian president Moammar Qadhafi. One of the leaked emails says “ HRC has been a critical voice on Libya in administration deliberations, at NATO, and in contact group meetings – as well as the public face of U.S. efforts in Libya. She was instrumental in securing the authorization, building the coalition and tightening the noose around Qadhafi and his regime”.”
Following the fall and murder of Qadhafi, Clinton quipped, “We came, we saw, he died.”
Clinton failed to push Obama into war in Syria, though she was in favour of establishing a “no-fly” zone in Syrian air space. This would inevitably have brought the U.S. into conflict with Russia.
General Joseph Dunsford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing in September 2016, “For now for us to control all the airspace in Syria would require us to go to war with Syria and Russia. That’s a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I’m not going to make.” Clinton however was still ready to take this step even after Dunsford’s testimony.
Although Clinton failed to push Obama into war with Syria, she did push him into arming rebels who opposed Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, thus prolonging the war and contributing to the formation of ISIS or Islamic State.
As Clinton acknowledged in one of the leaked emails, U.S. Allies, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were arming Islamic State – and contributing to the Clinton Foundation.
Lauria’s analysis is backed up by reference to the leaked emails from Clinton’s server – in far greater detail than it’s possible to go into here.
I strongly recommend Lauria’s book as essential reading. It puts events of the last 10 years into perspective and it shows beyond doubt what kind of person Hillary Clinton really is – and why she lost the 2016 election.
Lauria has been a United Nations correspondent for 25 years, including six years as the Wall Street Journal correspondent based at U.N. Headquarters in New York. He covered every major world crisis that has come before the U.N. over the past quarter century: the fraught diplomacy before the First Gulf War and the U.S. invasion of Iraq; the wars that broke up Yugoslavia; the genocide in Rwanda; the destruction of Libya; the coup d’etat in Ukraine and resulting civil war; and the war in Syria.
Lauria has interviewed numerous presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, and ambassadors and questioned many other leaders in press encounters, including Yassir Arafat, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Robert Mugabe, Jacques Chirac, Jimmy Carter, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Before the Wall Street Journal, Lauria was the Boston Globe’s U.N. correspondent for six years and has also reported from the U.N. for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, The Johannesburg Star, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver Sun; and the German Press Agency dpa. He was also an investigative reporter for The Sunday Times.
His stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, New York Magazine, and other publications. He is the author of two books. The first was with former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Mike Gravel, a history of U.S. foreign policy and the defense industry.