Hillary's new book: 'It Takes a Pillage'

There's an old saying: "I don't care what you think of me, just as long as you think of me!"  Nobody – not even Donald J. Trump – takes to heart that sentiment more sincerely than Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

Contemplative strolls in the woodlands of Chappaqua may impress her Earth-conscious fans, but Hillary could never linger in a forest where she cannot see the political trees.  If she did, there might be the chance of her being forgotten.

So within months after her unexpected, disastrous presidential defeat, Hillary's publicists at Simon and Schuster began spoon-feeding the public advanced tidbits of her new, then unreleased book, in which the readers were guaranteed to discover buckets of blame raining down like pearls of exoneration.

One of the first things we notice is that the title of the book, What Happened, is not a question.  Instead, it is a statement, based presumably on a postmortem of the apocalypse that somehow totally eluded Hillary during the long months of the campaign.  The facts have not changed between then and now, among them the FBI chief's conflicting actions, the controversy over her use of a private server from which thousands of e-mails were erased, the hacking into Democratic National Committee chief John Podesta's email, the enormous crowds at Trump rallies, the unexpected enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders, and the residual Russian resentment of her hokey "reset button" – all factors that constituted "red flags" clearly waving at the very time Hillary expressed confidence in winning in a landslide.

But let's be clear: Hillary Clinton has always been willing to take risks in order to avoid the ultimate aversion she most fears: anonymity.  And right about now – as she approaches her 70th birthday, still infused with burning ambition – Ms. Clinton is trying desperately to avoid becoming an icon of the past. 

So far, the book is turning her into an object of ridicule.  She is being accused of crassly lacking even the most basic critical tools of self-awareness and self-examination.  She is scolded for being unable to shoulder responsibility for things that happened in her bid for the White House.  No amount of hairstyle change or wardrobe upgrade can enhance her overall image as a sore loser with only a scant, self-serving grasp of reality. 

Yet how could such a thing be happening? How could Hillary Clinton – for many years considered one of the world's most admired women – suddenly lose all perspective and angrily "take on" just about everyone, including the Democratic Party?  How, in a nutshell, could a shrewd operator like Mrs. Clinton "lose it"?

The answer may be that she doesn't think she has, in much the same way that she really doesn't believe she "lost" the election.  She continues to hold to her popular vote victory the way a hurricane victim clings to the trunk of a fallen tree.  In fact, with the aid of Democrat strategist Peter Daou, Hillary is signing on to a new social media platform called Verrit, its purpose being to find an exclusive "bubble" in which to commune with the 65.8 million supporters who voted for her in 2016.

In Verrit, Hillary is hoping for a "Breitbart of the Left" forum that will keep her fans insulated from the contamination of other political options.

Throughout her life, Hillary's every move has been about feathering her personal nest and furthering her political future.  So why shouldn't we presume that she wrote What Happened with the same selfish motive in mind – that of attracting media attention while trying to get herself off the hook for the fiasco of 2016 – and on the way to contention in 2020?  Third time's the charm, they say.

Apparently, her pals in Hollywood and Silicon Valley are infuriated by What Happened.  It wouldn't surprise me, however, if some of them put her up to it.  Who better than they to know the value of "hype" and "buzz" and understand how controversy and promotion are as important as narrative in generating interest?  Perhaps more importantly, they are aware from Hillary's past that she is capable of pulling pity from the jaws of defeat.

So this new book could be just another way of Clinton portraying herself as a woman battling back against the odds, being denied her due, but not giving up in despair.  Despite her false claims of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" against Bill Clinton, first lady Hillary gained traction by posing as the wronged wife.  She may have been as conniving as her errant spouse, but she evoked sufficient sympathy to become a carpet-bagging candidate elected to the U.S. Senate in New York State.  During that campaign, she took in even more gender pity by claiming that her space was invaded by her bullying opponent, just as, in her book, she now accuses Donald Trump of being a predator and "creep." 

Once again, Hillary is trying to take advantage of the fact that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  It is obvious that she enjoys being back in the public arena, batting her eyes, waving her hands, and lecturing to us all.  Her latest role is a variation of those she's played before: the spunky woman whom others tried in vain to destroy.

This week marked three significant events: the anniversaries of 9/11 and Benghazi and the launching of Hillary's latest book, written conveniently by a ghostwriter whose composing skills are as banal as her own.  In her exclusive interview with Jane Pauley, Hillary didn't bother to mention the terrorist attacks.  It was the supposed attack on her that mattered.  Describing her election ordeal, she predictably relied on the cliché: "It was a perfect storm."

Way back when she launched her 2016 campaign, Hillary stood before a small crowd at the Iowa County Fairgrounds and shouted, "I'm back!"

"Back" is where Hillary wants to be, since for her there is no life after politics.  What Happened is her latest excuse to bask in the spotlight again, whether it illuminates or blinds her.  The trick now will be not only to prolong the attention, but to work up sympathy for a woman who refuses to call it quits.