Is Hillary Clinton’s Memoir “What Happened” the Story We Want to Hear?

For Hillary Clinton, the ‘real talk’ she promises in her forthcoming book is too little, too late.

We have almost come to expect politicians to write memoirs (or have a ghostwriter do it for them) detailing their experiences in office. Barack Obama wrote “Dreams from My Father”, George W. Bush wrote “Decision Points”, and Bill Clinton wrote “My Life”. Not all Presidents have written memoirs, although almost every President in recent history has, and the practice goes back as far as 1866, when Buchanan wrote “Mr. Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of Rebellion”. In today’s world, publishing a memoir, or multiple memoirs, is part and parcel of the celebrity status that comes along with holding any major political office.

It should come as no surprise then, that Hillary Clinton is writing what may be the first memoir written by a failed candidate for the Presidency. She was the first female candidate, so that alone is likely to garner some interest. But is her story really something the public needs or wants to hear or is it just further perpetuation of the celebrity status of politicians and another grab for money from someone who already has more of it than she can possibly spend as it is? Is her story too little, too late?

Personally, I feel that this memoir is just another publicity stunt. It’s like a last desperate grab for some sort of validation from a woman who tried to make history by becoming the first female president twice, and who failed both times because she just couldn’t seem to figure out what Americans wanted from their President. However, there is another major issue with her upcoming memoir that should be upsetting even her most ardent supporters, instead of exhilarating them.

“What Happened” is supposed to be a ‘tell-all’ that, according to Elle magazine, will “have the real talk we so desperately wanted during the campaign.” Clinton has said she will be “letting my guard down” now that she is no longer constrained. She feels as though she can now talk about her campaign like it was.

Honorable intentions, but it still is likely to disappoint. The “real talk” many of us wanted during her campaign was not about what it was like to be a female in politics, or what it was like to run against Trump. No, the real talk that people who were on the fence about who to vote for, the people who ultimately voted Independent, or for President Trump, was the type of real talk that Hillary Clinton is likely incapable of.

I remember the first time I watched the Independent Presidential Debates. I was floored by the topics covered and I remember thinking to myself that these people were actually talking about the stuff I cared about. While the debate was disorganized, and not as picture perfect as the more official debates between the primary candidates that everyone else watches, the candidates were engaging in the “real talk” that I so desperately craved to hear from Presidential candidates.

When Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were running for office in this past election, while they certainly couldn’t have been more opposite in most of their policy initiatives, they still had something in common that appealed to the American people. They were real. They were anti-establishment. They provided hope that we could break away from some of the problems that plague our government, and that we have become weary of. Hillary Clinton could not beat or meet that ideal, no matter how hard she tried.

One of the main reasons Hillary Clinton’s campaign failed was that people didn’t trust her. Maybe she should have been working harder at “real talk” then, before it was too late.

Chloe Longstreet

Chloe Longstreet is an OpsLens Contributing Editor. She graduated from Columbia University in 2012 with a BA in Political Science and Anthropology. Since then she has worked as a writer and an editor spanning a wide variety of topics. Her recent projects include working as a ghostwriter for a political memoir, and launching her company, Awen Books and More.

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