In “The Comeback,” a much admired “Seinfeld” episode, George Costanza obsesses over the fact he missed what he is sure was the perfect comeback when a colleague at a staff lunch, watching him gluttonize a bowl of shrimp, quipped that “George, the Ocean called, and they’re out of shrimp!” George wishes he had said, “Yeah? Well, the jerk store called, they’re running out of you!” The problem is that much success in life is based on timing. If you miss your moment, it’s gone, and coming back later to explain that you had the perfect response and didn’t use it is trolling for sympathy, when you don’t deserve any.
Now Hillary Clinton, in her post-Presidential-run botch excuse tour, is channeling George as she muses about whether she missed the perfect comeback when, she says, Donald Trump was “invading her space” during the town meeting style debate.
In an audio clip to promote her upcoming book (above), Clinton reads the section in which she recounts her thoughts as she claims she considered telling her Republican adversary to “back up, you creep” as he roamed the stage behind her during the second presidential debate.
“My skin crawled,” Clinton reads. “It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching ‘well, what would you do?'” Just two days before, Clinton says, “the world heard [him] brag about groping women.” She says she decided against telling Trump to “back up, you creep, get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women, but you can’t intimidate me,” and instead gripped the microphone “extra hard.” Now she wonders if she made the right choice.
Hey Hillary, the loser store called, and it’s out of you!
Since Hillary lost, it’s facile, lazy and unethical for her to dodge responsibility for the many, many ways in which she paved the way to the Presidency by running such a terrible campaign. Those free-roaming debate formats are perilous, as a competent trainer—like me— could and would have told her….except we have learned that Hillary didn’t listen to advice. Physical positioning on stage, or in a courtroom, or in a meeting or a conference, is a crucial management and leadership skill. Trump is good at it; he is good at some things, you know. I noticed his movements during that debate, and it was simply deft strategy, and completely within the rules.
Sure, Hillary could have tried that comeback, but Trump might have had a comeback of his own ready to go. He might have shot back with, “Gee, is that what you told Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones that they should have said to your husband?” She might have sounded shrill or defensive, or like she was afraid. Would she act like that when Putin loomed?
There were better, more effective, less risky responses to Trump’s tactic than Hillary’s unused ad hominem attack. If she didn’t have the non-existent performing instincts of a Florence Foster Jenkins, she could have pulled off one of them. (Making a joke about it was the ticket, but Hillary can’t make jokes.)
In retrospect, after the horse has fled the barn, the milk has been spilled and the fat lady’s sung, Hillary’s wistful regrets (“I could have been someone. I could have been a contender…”) are today nothing more than a way to call President Trump a creep. How professional and civil of her.
Hey Democrats, see if you can send Hillary back to the jerk store and get your money back.
By the way, George gets a second chance to score a comeback with the same staffer, and he is ready. It backfires horribly.
But the comeback never backfires if you don’t have the courage and wit to launch it when it counts. (It’s like Obama’s Syria policy.) As President or as any kind of leaders, one gets credit for reacting boldly, on time and effectively. Saying months later that you now know what you should have done is not only pathetic, it is strong evidence that you aren’t qualified for leadership anyway.