In a feature story at Esquire magazine today, John McCain takes a few swipes at Hillary Clinton for putting out her book “What Happened” so soon after her election loss. McCain, who knows what it’s like to lose a presidential election, says the immediate feeling is wanting to justify yourself but the right thing to do is step back.
After McCain lost, his reputation for putting his country ahead of his ambition was further damaged by Game Change, a vivid chronicle that revealed his campaign’s desperate attempts to bring Palin up to speed. McCain says he resisted the temptation to immediately set the record straight with his own lengthy account, as Hillary Clinton did recently in What Happened. “You’ve got to understand that you can’t rewrite history,” he told me. “One of the almost irresistible impulses you have when you lose is to somehow justify why you lost and how you were mistreated: ‘I did the right thing! I did!’ The hardest thing to do is to just shut up. Listen, my own campaign manager was part of a book that trashed me. Steve Schmidt was one of the big contributors to Game Change.”
McCain resisted the impulse to set the record straight, perhaps even a little too much. Sarah Palin faced harsh criticism not only during the campaign but for years afterward. Now, with the end of his career in sight, McCain is working on a memoir which will include the 2008 presidential race. The book is set to be published next April. In any case, McCain thinks Hillary needs to find something else to do with her time:
And while McCain has lately announced plans for his own memoir, which will reach back to 2008, he suggested Clinton had erred in writing hers so quickly. “What’s the fucking point? Keep the fight up? History will judge that campaign, and it’s always a period of time before they do. You’ve got to move on. This is Hillary’s problem right now: She doesn’t have anything to do.”
His question is blunt but really, what is the point? Hillary lost a close race, close enough that you could argue almost any factor was determinative. Hillary has taken the opportunity to create a long list of reasons she lost.
Clinton election blame game… What are your thoughts? pic.twitter.com/P9ANeYGqhr
— Jon Scott (@JonScottFNC) June 1, 2017
Every losing candidate could come up with a list of excuses for blowing an election. What’s missing from Hillary’s list is the one factor that really matters: She was a terrible, terrible candidate. Most importantly, she didn’t work as hard as Trump did. Trump’s campaign made significantly more stops in battleground states like Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin while Hillary coasted on her supposed inevitability.
So what is the point of blaming everything under the sun for her loss at this point? There is one thing that could explain it (beyond the need to explain her failure): Maybe she is keeping her options open for 2020. Maybe she wants a rematch.