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Hillary handicapped her own campaign

D

Dear Hillary,

I am not a syndicated pundit, cable network commentator or political blogger. I am simply a regular citizen who followed the election closely, voted for you and am sorry every day that you lost and Donald Trump won.

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I am made even more sorry by your recent rationalizations about your defeat.

Yes, no question, Russian meddling and fake news hurt. Yes, undoubtedly, then-FBI Director James Comey's public statements about investigations of your email hurt badly. And we certainly cannot discount sexism. However, since you "take responsibility for every decision you made," may I point out a number of those decisions that, had they been wiser, could have overcome all those handicaps?

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You decided to let the Democratic National Committee blatantly stack the deck in your favor for the nomination, killing enthusiasm among voters who supported Bernie Sanders and even, yes, Martin O'Malley.

You decided to choose bland Tim Kaine for your running mate, instead of someone who might have excited Hispanics (e.g. Julian Castro), African-Americans (Cory Booker), young Bernie supporters (Bernie) or, God help you, women (Elizabeth Warren).

You decided to run in the general election largely on a platform of "I'm not Trump" rather than on a positive message of "here's why I should be president."

When you did deal with issues, you decided to proclaim "I have a 12-point plan; go to my website," rather than describing your goals and plans in clear, simple language. How many undecided voters — or even supporters — went to your website?

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You decided not to make a single general election campaign stop in Wisconsin, while chasing who knows what in North Carolina, Arizona and Iowa. And you decided to rake in money in safe California while ignoring warnings about Pennsylvania and Michigan.

You decided to hire overconfident campaign staff who relied on analytics and turnout of base rather than outreach to undecided voters or even Obama voters.

You decided, with an air of smug cleverness, that "you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables" — dismissing them and their cultural fears and economic anxieties as not worthy of even being addressed.

You decided to claim that you and Bill "came out of the White House dead broke." To families losing their jobs and homes, being "dead broke" does not include having $10 million (Bill) and $8 million (you) book deals lined up.

You decided to personally remain cozy with Wall Street, taking $675,000 for three speeches to Goldman Sachs and then refusing to release transcripts. We learned why you refused when it was revealed that, in one of those speeches, you said with a wink and a nod that you would tell one thing to insiders, another to the public.

Speaking of speeches, knowing you would run for president, you decided, with Bill, to pocket $153 million in speaking fees, which included asking public colleges for $300,000 per speech, instead of recognizing such appearances as a source of excited and energetic campaign volunteers.

Also knowing you would run for president, you decided to set up a private email server and then delete 30,000 emails from it before turning over the others to investigators, suggesting that, at best, you were paranoid about privacy or, at worst, hiding secrets. In the words of Richard Nixon, you gave them a sword and they stuck it in and twisted it with relish.

You decided to keep close to you Huma Abedin, who shared a laptop with her husband Anthony Weiner — an already revealed device abuser — leading directly to the second Comey email investigation announcement 11 days before the election.

You decided to constantly nod "yes" about your own statements in your speeches, making you look self-congratulatory and unlikable. (In one poll conducted shortly before the election, 51 percent of Trump supporters said their vote would be against you rather than for Trump.)

You decided to call TPP "the gold standard of trade deals" before deciding, unconvincingly and only after pressure from organized labor, to oppose it.

All that does not even count setbacks that were not your decisions but also were not the fault of the Russians or Mr. Comey or sexism. These include Bill's unfathomable tarmac visit to Loretta Lynch, his declaration that one facet of Obamacare was "the craziest thing in the world" and your buckling knees after the 9/11 memorial, which gave credence to the idea that your health was not up to the job.

So, by all means, Hillary, do take responsibility for your decisions — all of them. Because, to this voter, even a few better decisions on your part might have overcome the tiny margins in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. And that would have saved the nation and the world from the words "President Trump."

Sincerely,

A disappointed American

Terry Shepard (terry.shepard@gmail.com) is a resident of Baltimore.

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