“The knives are out in Clintonworld,” Vanity Fair’s William Cohan writes, and they may take aim at a surprising target. Allahpundit touched on this earlier today, but it’s worth highlighting as part of the Democrats’ attempts to avoid blaming the one woman who really did lose the election.
Few have been as close to Hillary Clinton as Huma Abedin over the last 25 years, or as quietly dedicated to protecting her boss. Now that Hillary has blown a winnable election, Cohan writes, critics have focused the blame on her inner circle for keeping her too protected — and no one’s more an insider than Abedin:
“Maybe I’m just pissed off, but I really don’t give a shit about what happens to Huma to be honest with you,” one close adviser to Hillary Clinton told me recently. He was irked, in particular, at Abedin’s seemingly superfluous breach of decorum during a post-election event. On the day after Hillary Clinton’s stunning loss to Donald Trump, this person said, Abedin appeared within the rope line while Clinton greeted her morose and woebegone supporters. “You’re staff, O.K.?” this adviser continued. “Staff is staff. You’re not a principal.” …
But amid Clinton’s stunning post-election hangover, some inside the inner circle wonder if Abedin became overwhelmed by the attention, and shut too many people out. “She was enjoying the red carpet and enjoying the photo spreads much too much in my opinion,” one Clinton insider told me. “She enjoyed being a celebrity too much.” The close Clinton adviser elaborated that Abedin and the other tight-knit circle of people may have suffocated Clinton, preventing the campaign from taking in outside counsel. “The real anger is toward Hillary’s inner circle,” the Clinton insider told me. “They reinforced all the bad habits.” For instance, the suggestion had been made that Clinton should show her gregarious side, by, for instance, appearing more often on The View. (She appeared once, but Bernie Sanders, her rival for the nomination, appeared a handful of times.)
According to this person, however, the inner circle nixed that idea. It seemed, this person elaborated, that even minor suggestions about changing the narrative fell on deaf ears. “Right away,” this person continued, “it was either regarded as an intrusion or a naïve suggestion or maybe someone has an agenda. And so people just stopped bothering. Where in most presidential campaigns the circle grows broader and broader, hers grew smaller and smaller.”
There may be an argument to be made that Abedin cost Hillary the election in one practical way. Had it not been for Abedin’s careless handling of her e-mail connections, she would not have left thousands of messages on Anthony Weiner’s laptop for the FBI to discover while they investigated his alleged sexting with an underage girl. That prompted James Comey to inform Congress that the FBI found new evidence in the e-mail scandal investigation, which Democrats are blaming for turning last-minute deciders away from Hillary.
However, that argument has to rely on a particularly uncomfortable fact: Hillary Clinton created the e-mail scandal in the first place. In fact, her refusal to use the official State Department e-mail system required her inner circle at State to use the home-brew system that intended to keep Congress and the courts from finding Hillary’s communications as Secretary of State. Democrats could argue that Abedin should have been more circumspect in choosing which device to use while accessing it, but that’s like complaining about how the staff arranged the deck chairs on the Titanic while it steamed into an iceberg. Hillary’s the author of all that followed in regard to the e-mails.
Otherwise, Abedin makes a poor target for the knives. The slap at Abedin’s love of celebrity is laughable; she barely exists in the media except for her pictures standing by Hillary’s side. She did more when Weiner ran for mayor, but not a whole lot more, and mostly stopped after his second sexting scandal emerged. Apart from that, Abedin has never been a Svengali to Hillary — the authority dynamic runs in the other direction.
In fact, that suggestion and the broader accusation that Hillary failed because of a palace guard that insulated her from reality seems almost … sexist. Wasn’t Hillary the “chief executive” of her own campaign? Wasn’t she supposed to be the “most qualified candidate ever,” as Barack Obama and other Democrats claimed? Hillary was “a workhorse, not a show horse,” determinedly superior in judgment and executive ability, her supporters claimed — and accused her critics of misogyny for questioning those claims. (In fact, Hillary’s supporters are still making those accusations.) Now the explanation for the loss is that Hillary couldn’t see past her own administrative assistant or unbox herself from the team she put together.
This is just another embarrassing example of denial from Democrats. They nominated an unlikable and incompetent candidate with too much scandal baggage of her own creation, and then alienated even more voters by calling them bigots for noticing. Abedin makes a handy scapegoat for those unwilling to face reality.