Documentaries, plays and grand operas will be written about what was done to Hillary Clinton in the election of 2016. Some normal mistakes were mixed in with her many accomplishments, but there was nothing normal about her treatment by political foes and many of the respectable media alike.
The gang-up on Clinton amounted to political torture, the likes of which will be remembered for generations. That makes Hillary Clinton the Martyr of the Year.
Clinton entered the race having already endured decades of coordinated right-wing attacks – though only when she got ambitious. She had left the secretary of state job with high approval ratings and glowing praise from Republicans. The ludicrous and vicious notion that she was somehow to blame for the Benghazi tragedy was invented only after she began her campaign.
Come the nominating process, Clinton endured the drowning test by which the left wing habitually torments centrist Democrats. In witch trials, the woman is tied up and thrown in the water. If she sinks, she’s deemed innocent and pulled out from drowning. Bernie Sanders’ left held her down for the longest time.
The Sanders campaign was not an ordinary challenge for the Democratic nomination but a war to annihilate the ideologically impure. The man who to this day has not fully released his tax returns smeared Clinton as a toady of billionaires because she gave some paid speeches to Wall Street.
Despite television’s romance with Sanders’ torchlight parades, Clinton amassed a commanding 3 million-vote lead over him. Instead of conceding, Sanders called on the delegates to nullify the voters’ choice. Failing that, he withheld his support for Clinton – implying he could make her lose – until the party submitted to his demands. It largely did.
Sanders eventually came around and offered Clinton full-throated support, but only after having made her radioactive to his more rabid followers and handing Donald Trump lots of ammo. When Clinton was finally pulled out of the water, she was alive but gasping.
Then came Trump. We won’t go into the free and unmediated attention TV news outlets bestowed on his carnival act. This is about the so-called seekers of truth trying to seem tough on the candidate they supported while hungering for clickbait.
Trump’s master of media manipulation, Steve Bannon, couldn’t have passed so many lies or turned minor concerns into major scandal without high-powered help. Planting a story in some Clinton-hating tabloids was no big deal, David Brock, a right-winger turned Democratic operative, explained to Bloomberg Businessweek. The jackpot was the New York Times because of its reputation.
“If you were trying to create doubt and qualms about (Clinton) among progressives, the Times is the place to do it,” Brock said. From Bannon’s point of view, “the Times is the perfect host body for the virus.”
The Clinton email “controversy” was a hot air blimp on which even sophisticated Americans were taken for a ride. So when, days before the election, FBI Director James Comey announced more emails without supplying a grain of dirt, the public was already primed.
“New Emails Jolt Clinton Campaign” dominated the front page of the next day’s Times. The demoralization of her campaign was complete.
Facebook, meanwhile, was doing a big business disseminating fake and damaging news stories about Clinton written for profit around the world.
Despite all this, despite entering Election Day with her torso covered in arrows, Clinton won 2.7 million more popular votes than Trump. That’s 2.7 million more – and she still loses.
One need not worship Hillary Clinton to know she deserves an altar in the hall of political martyrs. Go light a candle with her face on it.
Froma Harrop is a columnist for Creators Syndicate.