After all the fakery of the 2016 election, the hot sauce in her bag, the ‘chillin’ in Cedar Rapids’, Hillary Clinton has finally told, ahem, her truth. And that truth is that she really hates Bernie Sanders. It’s a truth clear to anyone who had watched them during their last go-round. She bristled when she spoke to him. This nothing socialist from some state with three electors was trying to defeat her, Hillary Clinton, whose turn it was to be president. It was obvious.
But then suddenly, when the 2016 primary was over, she needed him. His voters were angry. He had lost and it seemed like the fix was in. Hillary needed them to show up for her, so she put on her best smile and made nice with Bernie Sanders. He campaigned for her, did multiple events for her and generally played the part of the candidate who had graciously stepped aside.
His supporters, however, were another matter. Some turned to Green party candidate Jill Stein. And when it was over, when Donald Trump was the president of the United States, they hissed the phrase that must strike Hillary deep in her soul: Bernie would have won.
The likelihood, really, is that he wouldn’t have, that Donald Trump was a runaway train and all the suburban voters who turned away from him toward Hillary Clinton would have turned right back had Bernie been the nominee. Crassness vs. Socialism isn’t that hard a choice.
Hillary’s comments, revealed in the Hollywood Reporter in advance of a new Hulu documentary about her, titled Hillary, uncovered how Sanders had gotten under her skin. The timing is interesting as it comes on the heels of Elizabeth Warren getting into her own tiff with Sanders. During the last debate, the moderator asked Bernie about Warren’s claim that he had said a woman couldn’t win the presidency. Bernie issued an unequivocal denial that he had ever said that. When the moderator turned to Warren she mumbled something about being ‘good friends’ with Sanders and left it at that.
But after the debate Warren stomped over to Sanders and accused him of calling her a liar on national television. It was Hillary all over again: smile and pretend to be friends but hiss and fume underneath it.
Politics is a game of smiling, waving and schmoozing. Donald Trump, in many ways, has usurped that. He does not smile and wave all that well. He is poor at schmoozing. Most importantly for anyone following the current Democratic melodrama, he does not pretend to like people. ‘I thought everyone wanted my authentic, unvarnished views!’ Hillary Clinton tweeted on Tuesday evening after her comments had spent the full day trending on Twitter. We did, but no one expected to actually get them, from her of all people.
The story we all know, that Hillary Clinton confirmed, is that politicians are phonies, who behave one way for the crowd and another behind the scenes. She peeled back the curtain on something everyone understands but rarely gets to see exposed: they all despise each other but use each other for political opportunity. They take it because they have to. Hillary Clinton went on to be the secretary of state for the guy who said she was ‘likable enough’. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders would almost certainly have a place in each other’s cabinets. It’s a show and we’re the audience. The only surprising part is that it was Hillary Clinton who decided to take us backstage. It’s the best piece of evidence that for all the ‘will she or won’t she run’ stories: she’s done. She doesn’t need them anymore. She’s free.