Hillary Clinton’s Book Addresses Russian Interference, But Leaves Many Questions Unanswered
When I began reading Hillary Clinton’s new book, I felt it was — more than anything else — a personal account of how shocked and disappointed she was by her loss of the 2017 election.
One of the chapters is entitled “Election Night,” and recounts the details of the disappointing news as it appeared hour by hour, and state by state. Most sources had predicted a victory for Clinton, who — in fact — won the popular vote by a margin of almost 2.9 million votes. In addition to writing about her emotions and disappointment, Hillary writes about the details of her campaign and also of her life and family.
Although I had always known that she was a Methodist, I hadn’t known about her deep commitment to Methodism and to its doctrine of “faith in action,” which she explains as doing “all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can” (p. 197).
Another thing that I had never known was her devotion to her late mother, Dorothy Rodham, nee Howell. Hillary writes about her mother: “Starting when she was three or four, her parents would leave her alone all day in their fifth-floor walk-up in Chicago.” Then, when she was eight, Dorothy and her three-year-old sister were put on a train to California so that they could live with their paternal grandparents. The ride “took four days” (p. 162). It is amazing that Dorothy Howell Rodham grew up to be a functioning human being. Her daughter always loved and admired her.
On October 30 of this year, we learned that Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for President Trump, had been indicted for conspiracy. At that point, What Happened turned into a different type of book for me: It became a book about Russia and autocracy, opposing the United States and democracy.
Hillary writes that, “As early as August 2016, CIA Director John Brennan called his counterpart in Moscow and warned him to stop interfering in the election” (p. 354). Those words took on a new importance for me. Hillary characterizes Putin’s agenda as follows: “Putin has positioned himself as the leader of an authoritarian, xenophobic international movement that wants to expel immigrants, break up the European Union, weaken the Atlantic Alliance, and roll back much of the progress achieved since World War II” (p. 332).
Putin was a member of the KGB from 1975 until 1991. When the USSR fell, Putin joined the new Russian government and eventually became its leader. The Russia he rules is a Marxist capitalist nation, where state-sanctioned murder takes place on a constant basis and Russia’s aim is to destabilize the world to advance its own interests.
Marxist capitalism itself sounds like a contradiction in terms, but Putin has redesigned Marxism by abandoning the economic half of Marx’s theory while sticking to its other half: thought control. Marx believed that when the world became communist, there would be no further differences of opinion, since once economic equality arrived, there would no longer be any reason for any disagreement. Russia, China and even North Korea have given up their commitment to a communist economy — but have held on to the idea of opposing democracy and freedom of any kind.
While other outside factors certainly affected the election (Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, for example), it certainly seems that Russian interference (including through illegal hacking) played a role.
The book is both a personal account and a description of Putin’s interference. There are many other subjects that don’t get mentioned. There is nothing about Israel. Hillary Clinton was totally pro-Israel when she was a member of the Senate — but when she was President Obama’s Secretary of State, she followed Obama’s pro-Iran agenda. What did she think about it?
The only hint comes when she writes about Obama: “We might have areas of disagreement, such as Syria, trade, and how to deal with an aggressive Russia, but by and large, I would defend his record, try to hold on to his accomplishments, and listen to his advice” (pp. 66-67). The words “by and large” tell us nothing much. Does disagreeing about Syria mean supporting Israel? We don’t know.
Hillary Clinton’s book is both long and readable. However, it is not sufficiently informative.