Hillary Clinton is not over it.
“Let me just get this out of the way: No, I’m not over it. I still think about the 2016 election. I still regret the mistakes I made,” the failed Democratic nominee told graduating seniors at Yale University on Sunday afternoon.
“Right now, we’re living through a full-fledged crisis in our democracy,” she told 1,360 seniors. “Now there are not tanks in the streets, but what’s happening right now goes to the heart of who we are as a nation. I say this not as a Democrat who lost an election but as an American afraid of losing a country.”
— The former secretary of state opened with a cascade of jokes related to the election. “I am thrilled for all of you, even the three of you who live in Michigan and didn’t request your absentee ballots in time,” she said.
As a tradition, Yalies wear humorous and playful hats during the Class Day ceremony. Clinton brought a Russian fur hat, known as an ushanka, with a Soviet-era hammer and sickle emblem. “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” she said.
A graduate of Yale Law School herself, Clinton also mused about some of the ways students in New Haven might have coped with her loss — sprinkling in a reference to a campus watering hole. “I had my fair share of chardonnay,” she said. “You went through penny drinks at Woads.”
— President Trump seems happy to have her as a continuing foil. One reason she has not faded into the backdrop is that he continues to routinely attack her, at times as if the campaign never ended. Crowds still chant “lock her up” at his rallies. The president called her “crooked” on Twitter yesterday and said she’s the one who should be investigated.
— In her speech, Clinton declared that she was not going to get political. Then, in the very next sentence, she said the right deserves more blame for the radicalization of American politics than the left. A minute after that, she advocated for gun control.
“Our country is more polarized than ever,” she declared. “We have sorted ourselves into opposing camps, and that divides how we see the world. There are more liberals and conservatives than there used to be and fewer centrists. Our political parties are more ideologically and geographically consistent … The divides on race and religion are starker than ever before. As the middle shrank, partisan animosity grew.”
Those familiar with the Civil War, or the mistreatment of Native Americans or the internment of Japanese Americans, among other dark chapters in the past, might quibble with such hyperbole. But she was on a roll.
“This isn’t simply a ‘both sides’ problem. The radicalization of American politics hasn’t been symmetrical,” said Clinton. There are leaders in our country who blatantly incite people with hateful rhetoric, who fear change, who see the world in zero sum terms, so that if others are gaining they must be losing. That’s a recipe for polarization and conflict.”
— Her tone was more in sadness than anger. She read from a teleprompter. She never named Trump, but everyone in the audience knew that was who she was referring to.
— Eighteen months after her unexpected defeat, Clinton’s reading choices suggest that she’s still down the rabbit hole.
She quoted from “Fascism: A Warning,” the new book by Madeleine Albright, her husband’s secretary of state: “This proposition that we are all created equal is the single most effective antidote to the self-centered moral numbness that allows fascism to thrive.”