Add to this a gaping lack of self-awareness, and you have all the ingredients for the New York City launch of Hillary’s nationwide book tour Tuesday morning (also primary day, not that Hillary — who maintains she’s still here only for us — cares about that either).
Thousands of people lined up outside the Barnes & Noble at Union Square in hopes of meeting their idol. Some slept outside the night before. Clare Hogenauer, an older, disabled upper West Sider, told me she rented a downtown motel room nearby. “I didn’t want to take a chance,” she said.
For Hillary supporters, this event was meant to be a salve, a corrective, a moment of collective grief and healing.
“I’m excited for her book release because it’s something I’ve never seen from a candidate dealing with defeat,” 24-year-old Brandon Echevarria told me. He was at the front of the line, having arrived outside last night at 10 p.m., too excited to sleep. The book and the launch, he said, “has a lot to do with experience and self-help.”
Hillary’s attendees were willing to follow any directive. There were many, and here, in part, were the written instructions:
“A limited number of wristbands for entry will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis with purchase of the featured title at Barnes & Noble Union Square. Hillary Rodham Clinton will sign copies of her new release, What Happened and the 2017 illustrated children’s edition of It Takes a Village, no exceptions or personalizing. She will sign up to two books per customer, one of which must be What Happened. No other books or memorabilia please. Posed photos or selfies will not be taking place . . . Book purchase and wristbands are both required to meet the author, no exceptions. Customers without wristbands will not be allowed to participate in any capacity.”
In other words, everyone was here to serve two purposes: To make sure “What Happened” debuts at No. 1 on the bestseller list and to line Hillary’s pockets. (At least she wasn’t surcharging $89-$3,000 per head, as she is at forthcoming events.)
Hillary’s advertised arrival time was 11 a.m., which came and went. Hundreds of people were penned in on a top floor, with thousands more waiting outside in 80-degree heat. All bags had to be checked, so people didn’t have food or water. Yet most retained their excitement: If they couldn’t have Hillary as president, this was the next best thing.
Thirty more minutes went by, then forty. And it wasn’t as though people could read Hillary’s book while waiting: They wouldn’t get their copy until they approached the dais, where Hillary would then generically sign it.
Perhaps that was for crowd-control reasons, or perhaps so she wouldn’t be challenged on some of the book’s doozies, such as:
“Although I never imagined running for office myself . . .” (after her politically-charged 1969 commencement speech was covered in Life magazine, her later work on the House Judiciary Committee’s Watergate investigation and her marriage to the politically ambitious Bill Clinton).
“To divert attention from his own ugliness, Trump brought to our second debate three women who had accused my husband of bad acts decades ago . . .” Those “bad acts” were, allegedly, sexual harassment and rape.
“When you don’t deliver, it will make people even more cynical about government.” — A swipe at Bernie Sanders that is actually a “physician, heal thyself” moment.
The reaction in her hotel room, on election night, upon her unthinkable loss to Trump: “One of the strangest moments of my life . . . a spirited discussion ensued.”
“I understand why some people don’t want to hear anything that sounds remotely like ‘relitigating’ the election” — in a book and tour that does just that.
Amid wild applause, Clinton made her way up to a raised platform, and then . . . she sat down and started signing. No hello to the crowd, no thanks for the hours of waiting — let alone decades of support — no apology for or acknowledgment of being an hour late, or losing the most consequential election in American history. Not a single word. She just started signing.
Waiting patiently to Hillary’s right, mere feet from her stage, was a line of wheelchair-bound seniors. “Hey guys, I need everybody to move over this way,” one staffer directed, as if that were so easy. Another staffer hijacked a fan’s wheelchair, saying, “We’re going for a ride,” while moving the fan aside.
Another attendee approached the officials. “She’s not going to speak?”
“This is all you’re getting,” came the reply.
Yes, typical Clinton class was on display here.
This book, we’ve been told, will show us a different Hillary, a humbled candidate taking personal responsibility for her loss. Yet just as that’s not true — as we all know by now, she blames Bernie Sanders, the Russians, James Comey, et. al in her memoir — in hawking it, she can’t help but revert to form. Wait for hours, sweat it out, love her all you want — she’s popping in for your cash, nothing more.
And no matter what Hillary says, remember: She’d love the chance to do it all again in 2020.