What Happened

Recommendation: How depressed do you want to be…

Where to read: Depends on how bolshy you’re feeling** 

Read with: Saturday Night Live says chardonnay, I concur

In brief: It’s not going to change minds – if you approve of her when you start, you’ll approve of her at the end, if you hate her now, save your eyesight for other things.


I’m perfectly willing to acknowledge here that I’m biased as hell. My opinions on her policies or personality aside, I have too much sympathy with the demands on women, particularly those in the public eye, the knowledge that I will likely lose, probably many times, to men who are less qualified and a deep, deep rage I will probably never lose. 

As reviews have generally proved, What Happened is a Rorschach test for readers. Hell, one is sometimes left wondering whether the reviewer actually read the same book you did (or read it at all for that matter). Of course, those reviews also perfectly capture the impossible position Clinton has always been, and will always be, placed in – she’s careful in her words so she’s not being emotionally honest, she’s angry so she’s too emotional, she talks about how much it hurt to lose to Donald Trump so she’s self-pitying, she had an outfit picked out for her victory speech and subsequent events so she was arrogant.***

She also refuses to shoulder the entirety of the blame which, unsurprisingly, infuriates some. She pulls her punches somewhat but it’s very clear that she’s fucking pissed at Sanders and the “Bernie Bros”, women who voted for the pussy grabber after the Access Hollywood tape and pretty much anyone who didn’t even try to vote (voter suppression aside). Nor does she spare a media establishment which treated her emails as equivalent to the laundry list of Trump scandals and spent an infinitesimal amount of time actually discussing policy

I wouldn’t read this if you’re after a hard-nosed, thorough analysis of why Trump won the 2016 election (not that I’m sure they exist), it’s too personal for that. You get the sense as you read that HRC is trying to make sense of it herself, that the act of writing is a cathartic exercise in piecing it together. This may come across as entitlement, the idea that she should have won, but I think it’s perfectly understandable – Trump smashed every single “rule” you could think of and got elected anyway. Evangelicals who previously claimed to vote on the basis of personal virtue and professions of faith made a Faustian pact to get anti-abortion judges on the Supreme Court, “family values” voters lined up behind a twice-divorced alleged rapist, “patriots” rallied behind a traitor and people who’ve never not been screwed by trickle-down economics prepared themselves to be trickled on once again (pee-pee joke intended). 

In sum, this is no unqualified mea culpa but she doesn’t fucking owe one. And she had no obligation to give America absolution. 

** She’s not wrong about having female fans too embarrassed to admit they like her in public for fear of the backlash. 

*** Seriously, anyone who thinks that’s evidence of hubris can go fuck themselves. Can you imagine the shit she’d have gotten if she had rocked around as President-elect looking less than polished as fuck…

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