Hillary Clinton's vanity blinds her to why she lost to Donald Trump

Hillary Clinton compares herself to Game of Thrones' Cersei LannisterReuters

Hillary Clinton's book, What Happened, takes us back the most dismal, corrupt and undemocratic modern election in the western world. Donald Trump got into the White House even though Clinton won three million more votes than he did.

A hard-right cabal - including wealthy ideologues, Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer - were the powers behind the maverick Republican candidate who is politically illiterate but knows how to galvanise crowds and sell himself. Election conventions were smashed by dirty tricks and fake news, whipped up populist anger and high emotion. Clinton was done for. It was a coup. The US system will not recover for a long time.

Clinton's story, as told by herself, could have given us the emotional journey, truths that were noised out by her detractors, honest reflection and sober analysis. Disappointingly she is still buttoned up in her constraining pant suits. When you get a glimpse of the real Hillary, she slams the door shut. Her sense of entitlement is like a fog stopping her from seeing what really happened and why.

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She was abused and hated for being an ambitious, overreaching woman. Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for US president in 1872, was denounced as a witch and the devil's handmaiden. Many wanted her imprisoned for daring to think she could dream of being president. Hillary Clinton went through the same, disgraceful intimidation and sexist insults. (I was in Pittsburgh before the US election and saw people in shopping malls wearing T-shirts with pictures of a red-eyed, double-horned Hillary). But she should have known that being a woman is never going to be enough in politics. Nor should it be.

Like Theresa May, she was robotic, more head than heart, haughty. Am I supposed to always support Mrs May because of her gender? And never publicly criticise politicians such as Amber Rudd or Labour's Kate Hoey with whom I vehemently disagree? Furious feminists will disagree with the line I take. They should give more thought to instinctive, pre-set loyalties. There were other issues too, which Clinton should have comprehensively addressed in the book.

The Clintons have a lot of unpacked, old baggage. In there, sits Whitewater, the financial scandal that broke out when Bill was governor of Arkansas. Also, the affairs he had and she tolerated, her friendship with Trump, the millions both of them have made (according to Forbes, they are worth over $200m), and the way Obama was treated by the couple when he first stood for the nomination all needed to be cleared up and explained.

Hillary Clinton and Donald TrumpGetty Images

So too some of the policy decisions taken during the Obama administration. There were more drone attacks on Muslim countries in one year than were carried out during the entire Bush era. The intervention in Libya has been a disaster. And more black people lost out economically in those eight years. It was vital for her to tackle these questions because right-wingers constantly churn out their own stories - many vile and false - to discredit the Clintons. She chose not to.

Clinton has also been turned on by many on her own side. Sometimes unfairly. One of them is Thomas Frank, the American political analyst and author of Listen, Liberal, who wrote this week: "Unfortunately this book is less of an effort to explain than it is to explain away. No real blame ever settled near Mrs Clinton's person...She cannot escape her satisfied white-collar world view...compulsively listing people's academic credentials, hobnobbing with executives from Facebook and Google, and telling readers she went to the World Economic Forum in Davos to announce her philosophy."

For Frank, Clinton's biggest failure was not understanding rust belt folk and other voters who voted for Trump. Maybe so. She was most at ease with the rich and powerful. But how far should you 'understand' those who are racist, who detest Hispanics and blacks, creationists, citizens who are so under-educated that they believe anything their pastors or online crazies tell them?

The Democrats should have chosen Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren on a joint ticket. Neither is part of a bad history or insider plotting circles. They connected with voters better than Hillary Clinton ever could. She doesn't get that, and, even now, gives Sanders little credit for withdrawing from the race for the nomination and bitterly accuses him of "drawing blood whenever he could".

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In some ways the Clintons are like the Blairs. They really believe they were redeemers, natural born leaders, pearls before swine. Tony Blair still thinks he was heroic and right on everything. Hillary Clinton still believes she was the best ever leader the US could have had. Such people never learn from their mistakes. They are too vain and too sure of their own worth.

This is why I am glad Clinton will never stand again. It's the best chance the Democrats have to win power and remake the party.

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