On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton spoke at the Women For Women International luncheon. According to the press release for the event, the theme of the interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour was "women, peace, and security." Of course, though, it turned to the presidential election. During the discussion, Amanpour at one point asked Clinton the question many have wondered since Nov. 8 (or, really, Nov. 9): why did Clinton lose the election to Donald Trump, when everyone expected her to win?
I was at the event, and I left it not expecting that question — which has been debated over and over again by numerous smart commentators — to be the one part of Clinton's remarks anyone paid attention to. That's because Clinton spent nearly all of her talk discussing other issues — the struggles of women worldwide and the importance of American leadership, the difficulties of America adapting to a modern economy defined by automation and broadband internet, her worry that America could be moving backwards on the gender pay gap.
But beyond that, Clinton's election analysis went beyond looking at the narrow reasons she lost and her opponent won. Yes, Clinton spent some time discussing James Comey, the hacking of her campaign's emails, and how the country would be different if just a few events in October had and had not happened. However, she also used her talk to argue that her critique of Trump during the election was 100 percent correct.
Clinton called back to the first debate, when Donald Trump belittled her for having prepared for the debate, and she responded, "I also prepared to be president." She argued that so far, Trump has shown himself to be just as unprepared for the job as she frequently warned he would be.
When asked about the president's actions in Syria, Clinton said that she, too, had supported air strikes after the chemical weapons attack allegedly by the Assad regime. But she also said, "I don't know what kind of impact it had," worried that it hadn't been enacted with a fully articulated foreign policy doctrine. On North Korea, she also said that negotiations shouldn't just come from a "tweet some morning."
In Clinton's talk, she seemed to relish the role of being a thorn in Trump's side. In the course of the 2016 election, even as she lost, there was probably no part of campaigning Clinton proved better at than finding things that would drive Trump into a fit — from calling him Putin's puppet to mentioning former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. And she did it again on Tuesday, mentioning her win in the popular vote, seemingly with clear knowledge that it remains a sore spot for the president.
In perhaps Clinton's most hard-hitting attack on her victorious former-opponent, she said that she actually hopes he does stay fixated on the election. "If he wants to tweet about me, fine," she said.
Clinton said she preferred that — him focusing on silly sideshows like the election from months ago — to him getting the United States into trouble internationally. "You know, better that than interfering in foreign affairs if he wants to tweet about me. I'm happy to be the, you know, the diversion," she said. "Because we've got lots of other things to worry about. And he should worry less about the election, and my winning the popular vote, than doing some other things that would be important to the country.”
In her speech at the Democratic National Convention, Clinton said of Trump, "A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man who should be trusted with nuclear weapons." A little over a hundred days into Donald Trump's administration, Clinton reminded people why she said that, even if America didn't listen.