Clinton asks what went wrong

Hillary Clinton © Rex Features
Clinton: clearly furious about the election

Cover of What HappenedWhat Happened
by Hillary Clinton
Published by Simon and Schuster, £20
(Buy at Amazon)

Despite being the odds-on favourite in the US presidential election last year – and beating Donald Trump in the popular vote by a record margin – Hillary Clinton ended up being thwarted in her quest to become America’s first female president.

In this new book, Clinton gives her account of the tumultuous campaign and the aftermath of her shock defeat. She also deals with some major controversies, including her involvement with the Clinton Foundation and her decision to conduct State Department business over an insecure private server.

Clinton is clearly furious about what happened. She reveals that she considered both boycotting Trump’s inauguration, and attending the Woman’s March against Trump that preceded his swearing-in. She also rails against the media for (in her view) treating her unfairly, and both Russia and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for interfering in the process at crucial moments.

While some of her criticisms are valid, and her frustration is understandable, her complaints about Bernie Sanders for having the nerve to stand against her seem over the top. Still, her flashes of anger makes the book more interesting that the standard political memoir.

In the election’s aftermath, many pundits blamed Clinton for blowing what should have been an easy victory by not paying enough attention to the needs of ordinary Americans. While Clinton briefly ponders whether she could have done more to engage with those voters who have been left behind by rising inequality, this is limited to a very specific discussion about a gaffe she made about the coal industry.

Overall, it’s hard to shake the impression that she was more concerned with divisive social issues than the bread-and-butter task of raising wages and extending public services.

Still, Clinton comes across as someone with a greater appreciation of what public service entails and a far more genuine desire to improve people’s lives than the current occupant of the White House.

Given that, it is ironic that many of the people who are now protesting against Trump are those who handed victory to him by refusing to hold their noses and vote for Clinton – a point that she implicitly makes in this informative, if sometimes padded-out, account.