That’s what Fox News is calling the former secretary of state’s “score-settling, Dem-rattling” 15-city swing across America and Canada to promote her new campaign memoir, What Happened. But notwithstanding snarky right-wing media coverage—the Daily Caller ran the headline “Hillary Clinton Still Coughing At Book Event”—her stop last night at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., proved that her tour is rather harmless—and might even be helpful for a party, and nation, still reeling from President Donald Trump’s election.
The chief concern about Clinton’s tour is that she’s shirking responsibility for her loss by focusing on the host of other factors that kept her from the White House, including Russian interference, former FBI Director James Comey, and her Democratic primary opponent, Bernie Sanders. Indeed, Clinton has attacked Sanders unfairly in recent days, distorting the hard work he put in for her during the general election. But there was no Bernie-bashing at the Warner, even when some in the crowd of Clinton diehards literally hissed at mention of his name. Instead, Clinton was at turns loose and funny, thoughtful and reflective, reassuring and comforting. She acknowledged that writing the book had been “therapy” and “catharsis” for her, but focused on how her experience can be channeled to help Democrats move forward.
Name-dropping a range of progressive organizations like Indivisible and Swing Left, she told the crowd, “I think it’s very important that we not grow weary in standing up for what we see as core American values, not permitting the clock to be turned back and people’s progress to be reversed.” She even encouraged dispirited federal government workers to “stick it out” as the Trump administration seems contemptuous of their departments, “because the tide has to turn.” “If we can take back one or both houses of Congress in 2018, you will have people you can talk to again,” Clinton said.
Asked about other women thinking of pursuing politics, she made clear that her challenges shouldn’t dissuade anyone. “I would still say that if you are willing to enter politics either as a candidate, as a campaign staffer, as a person in government and public service—because that’s how I view the bigger definition of politics—you just have to be prepared and try to have the confidence without being walled off, without being too defensive,” Clinton said. “It’s easy for me to say. I’ve been all of those things at various points in my public career. But it’s a really great experience, and it is important to have more women in politics, and it is important that we all support each other in the political arena.”
Clinton said What Happened is “as much about resilience as about running for president.” Resilience has always her best quality. More than her smarts and savvy and undervalued sense of humor, Clinton thrives because, as President Barack Obama said at last year’s Democratic National Convention, “No matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits.” If she can use the rest of her tour to buck up and rally Democrats, it will have been a worthwhile venture for more than just book sales. “Look, I’m a very fortunate person,” Clinton said, “and I want others, no matter what happens to you in life to understand that there are ways to get up and keep going.” That’s a message her party needs now more than ever.