I finished this book days ago, and I cannot get it out of my head! Indeed, we had a (fantastically fun) sleepover book club this weekend at a friend’s cottage and I think I spent 60% of my time talking about what I read in What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
This was an incredibly informative, yet very personal and highly inspirational read.
I have continued to say to everyone and that everyone, including those that so diametrically despise the Clintons, especially Hillary, to read the chapter On Being a Woman in Politics. There are countless sections I’ve highlighted, entire paragraphs of this book – I would be transcribing it all here. So really, it is a must read. No, it is absolutely not a “pity me party” kind of book at all. Clinton provides facts, sources, graphs, information that is all backed up, proven, verified, about everything: everything to do with the election, everything to do with the historic hatred of HRC dating back to her early days as a graduate of Wellesley, the Russian involvement in breaking down democracy worldwide (not just in America), the politics of hate….
Here is a very favourite section of that chapter, On Being a Woman in Politics:
We can all buy into sexism from time to time, often without even noticing it. Most of us try to keep an eye out for those moments and avoid them or, when we do misstep, apologize and do better next time.
Misogyny is something darker. It’s rage. Disgust. Hatred. It’s what happens when a woman turns down a guy at a bar and he switches from charming to scary. Or when a woman gets a job that a man wanted and instead of shaking her hand and wishing her well, he calls her a bitch and vows to do everything he can to make sure she fails.
Both sexism and misogyny are endemic in America. If you need convincing, just look at the YouTube comments or Twitter replies when a woman dares to voice a political opinion or even just share an anecdote from her own lived experience. People hiding in the shadows step forward just far enough to rip her apart.
It’s not easy to be a woman in politics. That’s an understatement. It can be excruciating, humiliating. The moment a woman steps forward and says, “I’m running for office,” it begins: the analysis of her face, her body, her voice, her demeanor; the diminishment of her stature, her ideas, her accomplishments, her integrity. It can be unbelievably cruel.
This was an incredibly personal read as well. She touches wonderfully on being a daughter, a mother, a wife and a grandmother. HRC is not the only or the first woman to have troubles in her marriage, or the first and only woman to have an unfaithful husband. But her exposure about these darker times in her own marriage were so personal and written with such feeling. I think these personal moments throughout the book were some of my favourite. But you cannot deny she is a woman that knows what she is talking about. She clearly and at length expounds upon a great many topics.
Some of my favourite pieces:
(I loved her skewering, even though it was still far too polite, of Matt Lauer. How that man continues to have a job is beyond me. What a buffoon. I have never liked watching him and his arrogance on full display, and after reading the breakdown of his handling of a debate on foreign policy I have no desire to watch or listen to him ever.)
Her discussion about the election breakdown and on Bernie Sanders was great too. Bernie Sanders and his – oh I don’t know how to say it right – his unicorns and rainbows and utopia and everything is free? There was a weird dynamic there for sure, but what I found interesting too is how Sanders also took part in this game of skewering Hillary, before he backed her. He played into this whole mess too. I would shake my head at him – had he been reasonable after HRC was named the candidate and did more to work with her, instead of against her, he would have had an excellent role in her administration, much like HRC did with Obama.
Here HRC talks about what it was like in the debates with Bernie:
“That’s what it was like in policy debates with Bernie. We would propose a bold infrastructure investment plan or an ambitious new apprenticeship program for young people, and then Bernie would announce basically the same thing, but bigger. On issue after issue, it was like he kept proposing four-minute abs, or even no-minute abs. Magic abs!
Someone sent me a Facebook post that summed up the dynamic in which we were caught:
BERNIE: I think America should get a pony.
HILLARY: How will you pay for the pony? Where will the pony come from? How will you get Congress to agree to the pony?
BERNIE: Hillary thinks America doesn’t deserve a pony.
BERNIE SUPPORTERS: Hillary hates ponies!
HILLARY: Actually, I love ponies.
BERNIE SUPPORTERS: She changed her position on ponies! #WhichHillary? #WitchHillary
HEADLINE: “Hillary Refuses to Give Every American a Pony”
DEBATE MODERATOR: Hillary, how do you feel when people say you lie about ponies?
WEBSITE HEADLINE: “Congressional Inquiry into Clinton’s Pony Lies”
TWITTER TRENDING: #ponygate
“There is one more angle worth considering before I turn the page on this sordid chapter: the role of the press.”
The ongoing normalization of Trump is the most disorienting development of the presidential campaign, but the most significant may be the abnormalization of Clinton.
—Jonathan Chait in New York magazine, September 22, 2016
“Abnormalization” is a pretty good description of how it felt to live through the maelstrom of the email controversy. According to Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, over the entire election, negative reports about me swamped positive coverage by 62 percent to 38 percent. For Trump, however, it was a more balanced 56 percent negative to 44 percent positive.”
Coverage of my emails crowded out virtually everything else my campaign said or did. The press acted like it was the only story that mattered. To take just one egregious example, by September 2015, the then Washington Post political reporter Chris Cillizza had already written at least fifty pieces about my emails. A year later, the Post editorial board realized the story was out of control. “Imagine how history would judge today’s Americans if, looking back at this election, the record showed that voters empowered a dangerous man because of . . . a minor email scandal,” they wrote in a September 2016 editorial.
No need to imagine. It happened.”
Who does this sound like? Trump or Putin?:
“It’s all about projecting an image of traditional masculinity, Christian morality, and white nationalist purity and power.”
Actually, here’s she’s talking about Putin. But hard to tell isn’t it? She’s talking about Putin’s “re-Sovietization” and propaganda, and seeing Russian money go to back Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France, Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD) and Austria’s Freedom Party.
“All of this is to say that I had my eyes open. I knew Putin was a growing threat. I knew he had a personal vendetta against me and deep resentment toward the United States.
Yet I never imagined that he would have the audacity to launch a massive covert attack against our own democracy, right under our noses—and that he’d get away with it.
Trump doesn’t think in terms of morality or human rights, he thinks only in terms of power and dominance. Might makes right. Putin thinks the same way, albeit much more strategically. And Trump appears to have fallen hard for Putin’s macho “bare-chested autocrat” act. He doesn’t just like Putin—he seems to want to be like Putin, a white authoritarian leader who could put down dissenters, repress minorities, disenfranchise voters, weaken the press, and amass untold billions for himself. He dreams of Moscow on the Potomac.”
I told you there were so many sections worth adding here! There are so many more!
As we continue to watch the disintegration of America from across the border, I only being increasingly upset and angered, even offended, honestly, I am deeply offended when I see people I know defend and support Trump. I saw yesterday something that made me smile though – they are referred to as Cult 45 members.
I am well aware of this deep-seated hatred for the Clintons and Hillary in particular, I have worked with people that are so filled with it. Yet, I truly loved how she addressed it, referenced it, spoke of it and how so much of it is rooted in Republican outrage and propaganda. But I still cannot understand support for someone who is so openly filled with hate, so openly building a terrifying and repeated agenda, (have you not read history? have you not even read historical fiction??) working at the dismantling of the country, turning so many against each other. The hatred for immigrants, when Wake Up, your grandparents and parents were immigrants! The Stepford Wives-like following for someone that cares so incredibly little for the public and the people he is supposed to lead angers me.
I’ve given my very personal opinion and I will say that opinion was cemented after reading What Happened, for certain. I know not everyone will agree or support this opinion, but it is mine and I don’t see me ever be swayed from it.
Really, you should read What Happened, for some, I know they will have to set aside aversion, but honestly, there is a great deal inside that breaks so much down, that is backed up by data, credible sources and verified fact. It was incredibly informative. Most of all it was very inspirational as well. #Resist #Persist
I really enjoy listening to the New York Review of Books podcast, even on topics I don’t expect to be interested in, but when I saw an hour-long discussion devoted to only this book, I wasn’t sure (given how much more time I spend reading about American politics now than ever before). However, it was just fascinating as a discussion, so I can see, now, where the book would feel like essential reading too. I did end up listening to the entire hour and, who knows, I just might read the book too!
I know, I know, the need to step away is so great. I will admit I struggle sometimes with that! But when this e-book landed in my lap I just had to read it. It really is filled with so much information and very interesting information. I think you will find some inspiration in there if you do end up reading it.