It Takes A Distillery—or Three

Scott has mentioned the breathless anticipation for Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming book What Happened, and my own anticipation sent me back to the review I wrote of Hillary’s 2003 memoir, Living History in the CRB, which began thus:

Years ago I developed a standardized measurement for the agony involved in reading and reviewing tendentious books. I call it the “Donaldson Scale,” after Sam Donaldson of ABC News, whose book I once had to suffer. “One Donaldson” means that a full bottle of scotch or its equivalent is necessary to grind out a review.

Hitherto few books have rated more than a Half-Donaldson, though the occasional effort of a French literary critic, or any John Irving novel, comes close to rating a Full-Donaldson. The memoirs of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal have shattered the Donaldson Scale. To paraphrase one of Hillary’s previous offerings, these books take a whole distillery.

What Happened is going to require multiple distilleries if the early previews are any guide.   Living History was a major bestseller back in 2003, but I predict What Happened will be a sales dud. But this is a no-lose proposition, as it is certain to be an interpretive dud that I hope Democrats will blindly follow.

While Hillary and her sycophants will harp on Comey’s investigation and the latent misogyny of the American voter, there is a deeper story I think. The NBC News story about the book mentions an important little detail that I expect will be lost on everybody in the media and the Democratic Party: Trump got a noticeable poll bump out of the last debate where he made a point of declaring himself firmly in the pro-life camp, while Hillary remained intransigently pro-abortion under all circumstances. I think this, combined with a couple other related factors, may have tipped the election in the midwestern swing states. It certainly helped with evangelical voters who had doubts about Trump’s personal character.

The related issue was the Supreme Court. Hillary was conspicuously silent about Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland. Hillary could have made the GOP obstruction of his confirmation an issue, and put pressure on several GOP Senate candidates like Ron Johnson and Pat Toomey. But she didn’t, likely because she wanted to nominate someone far to the left of Garland (whose nomination would have expired with the end of this current Congress and Obama’s exit from office). I doubt this fact was lost on a lot of evangelical voters, who turned out for Trump in higher numbers that for any previous Republican candidate. (Trump also won the Catholic vote.)

As I say, don’t expect any extended reflections on these factors among Democrats or their media echo chamber. Meanwhile, point me to the nearest distillery.

P.S. I later got to know Sam Donaldson a little bit, and he’s actually a really nice guy. He just played a jerk on TV news.


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