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Op-ed

I voted for Clinton, but her book makes me cringe

I voted for Hillary Clinton. She would have made a fine president. She was well qualified for the position, and there's no doubt she was maligned and misrepresented throughout the campaign on her way to winning the popular vote while ultimately losing in the Electoral College.

Still, the very idea of her new book, "What Happened," makes me cringe. I haven't read it yet; I could barely stand to read the quotes from it that steadily leaked into the press. They amounted to a look backward when the country desperately seems to need a plan for going forward.

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Maybe I'm just not ready for the personal post mortem; the election of Donald Trump still feels more like an assault on the public than any one person — even his direct opponent. And maybe I blame her a little for that. She proclaims that with this book, finally, she is dropping her guard. Weren't we calling for that version of Hillary a year ago?

Plus, I can't shake the thought that this is a self-serving money grab, one of three book deals Ms. Clinton inked a month after Mr. Trump was sworn in (the other two being for a children's picture book and for a book of essays based on favorite quotations). It already tops Amazon's bestseller list — five slots above "Princesses Wear Pants" — and surely has earned her millions. On top of her other millions.

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Cynical.

Why shouldn't she get hers? Everyone else in her field at her level seems to.

And of course there's value in hearing her side, as a woman, a politician and a participant in the most remarkable election of our generation — remarkable for its highs (solidly cracking the glass ceiling), though mostly its lows (Mr. Trump's insults hurled toward immigrants, women and the public's collective intelligence).

But do we need to hear it now? Do we need to hear her blame the same actors she's already blamed, but in more detail, with candor and sometimes humor? Blame can be tiresome. It's a Trumpian thing — assigning responsibility to someone else for a wrong. It's also a human thing, I suppose.

In the end, "What Happened" is really about Hillary. And, perhaps unfairly, I want Hillary — and her book, if she must write one — to be about more.

She wasn't a perfect candidate; she wasn't even a perfect Democrat. But she was smart, capable and the closest this country has come to a female president. And after the election, she became a symbol, a rallying figure for women who marched in droves in support of other women — and in protest of the insult and injustice of a President Donald Trump, particularly on the heels of a President Barack Obama.

Her loss somehow empowered the rest of us to speak out. Or maybe it was his win. Many Trump voters said they picked him because he wasn't her, so even in January, we may have marched not for her, but against him.

I'm sure there are lessons in her book, though, however uncomfortable they are to hear.

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One oft-quoted line stands out. "Maybe I have overlearned the lesson of staying calm, biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist, smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world," she says.

It speaks directly to Ms. Clinton and her infamous guard, but I prefer to see it as a challenge: If those of us who protest today had taken to the streets yesterday, would Ms. Clinton be too busy running the country to write?

Maybe not. But we surely risk something serious if we stop now.

Tricia Bishop is The Sun's deputy editorial page editor. Her column runs every other Friday. Her email is tricia.bishop@baltsun.com; Twitter: @triciabishop.


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