Does Hillary Clinton still have a role to play?

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a presidential town hall debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Oct. 9, 2016. (CNS photo/Jim Young, Reuters)

I feel compelled to say a few words about Hillary Clinton, following her commencement speech at Wellesley College and her interview at the Code Conference in California. This conference brings together top leaders in the tech industry and other public figures.

There seems to have developed a consensus that Secretary Clinton has nothing further to contribute to the ongoing political debate. She should take her long walks in the woods and get off the public stage. This seems to be the feeling among a lot of Democrats as well.

It is true that in some of her recent comments she could be accused of being a sore loser and unable to get over her devastating loss. As for her comments about receiving no help from the Democratic National Committee, I have no way of knowing what the truth may actually be. Certainly, Hillary is not without faults.

Yet I think this criticism is simply a continuation of the vicious attacks directed at her since the campaign began. The notion that she is somehow not permitted to talk about her experience, how she feels, and what she has learned is becoming annoying — and is not helpful. People are asking her what happened, and she is telling them. In addition, she is providing specific details about what the Clinton campaign observed that are relevant to the Russian investigation.

Secretary Clinton has talked about Facebook's role in the fake news scandal. She explained how data was being weaponized as never before and suggested what we can learn from this intrusion into the electoral process. She notes that many stories posted on Facebook were fake, and they did influence the way people thought about her, especially in certain targeted districts.

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She makes the point that in the 2008 campaign, about 200 minutes of coverage was given to policy discussions. Only about 30 minutes were devoted to such discussion in the 2016 campaign.

Finally, she makes the intriguing comment that she doesn't believe the Russians could have been so effective in timing and content without help from Americans. She leans toward suspecting Trump associates in this regard. The current investigations may well answer these questions more conclusively.

The 2016 campaign was not a normal election. Clinton's loss was not a normal campaign loss. One can of course enunciate a wide variety of reasons why she lost and can say that she should be more willing to accept her own failures. But there is only one issue which is relevant, not just for Hillary Clinton, but for the United States of America. If she lost because she didn't go to Detroit in the waning days of the campaign, so what? But if she lost because of fake news and a drumbeat of unflattering and bizarre stories targeted against her in swing districts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, that should matter to all of us.

Hillary Clinton will not be running for president again. She is most unlikely to ever run for any elected office again. She is or should be, however, a distinguished elder statesperson. She is a former first lady, senator from New York and Secretary of State. She has a lifetime of public service of which she can be proud. She has every right to comment on the state of affairs in this country, and she deserves to be treated with respect. She has a right to work for the positions she believes in and would like to see adopted.

I make only one comparison. Gen. David Petraeus shared classified information with a mistress and plead guilty to mishandling classified information. He is still valued for what he has to offer to the public debate, and was considered for a major cabinet position despite his lapse.

Can it be that the notion of elder statesperson is an oxymoron when it comes to being a woman? When Hillary Clinton speaks of misogyny being involved, she just may be right.


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