It says something, I am not quite sure what, about our deteriorating political culture that the two poorest losers in American Presidential election history were the last two losing candidates, and whoever third place belongs to—Aaron Burr maybe? John Adams? Adlai Stevenson made some ungracious comments after his second defeat by Eisenhower suggesting that Ike’s weak heart would make Nixon President—is too far from them to be seen with the Mt. Palomar telescope.
Hillary Clinton had the title wrapped up, I assumed for all time, after her four-year whine-fest following her defeat by Donald Trump. She announced herself a member of “the resistance,” blamed everyone and everything imaginable except the real culprit (herself), and encouraged surrogates and the news media to attempt various dishonest arguments to cast suspicion on Trump’s victory. Was her refusal to make the traditional statement wishing the new President well and pledging to do what she could in the interest of unity and the national interest the catalyst for the Democrats’ villainous effort to undermine Trump’s Presidency by false accusations, contrived impeachment and ad hominem slurs? Whether it was or not, Clinton openly fumed and seethed about her loss, trapped in the anger stage of grief and never moving on to acceptance.
Donald Trump, of course, passed her in the Bad Loser race like she was standing still once the 2020 election night showed Joe Biden was a winner. Not only did Trump refuse to concede, he continued to insist that the election was rigged and even that he had won…in fact, won by a landslide. He encouraged public protests and employed lawyers who over-promised, made intemperate claims, and either came close to the line of unethical advocacy or crossed it.
Trump’s mitigating factor, something that Hillary did not have in her favor, was (and is) that there were substantive reasons for him to feel that the deck had been stacked against him, by the false Russian narrative, by the contrived first impeachment, and by the degree to which he had been denied all of the institutional respect and deference every other President of the United States enjoyed—not just enjoyed, but benefited from. Most of all, the news media often—usually? always?—had been determined to present him, his words and his policies in a negative light whether they deserved such treatment or not. Just because you’re paranoid, the saying goes, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.
It doesn’t matter, however. Our democracy depends upon our leaders accepting the results of elections, unless the results are genuinely in doubt. One cannot criticize Al Gore for pursuing recounts in 2000 when his popular vote victory was going to be cancelled out by the Electoral College based on a few hundred ambiguous votes in Florida, but when it was over, courtesy of the Supreme Court, he gave a gracious speech and mostly kept his bitterness under wraps except for a few outbursts. Nevertheless, the tradition of accepting the biggest loss in American politics with grace and patriotic affirmation is an important one, and for it to remain strong requires consistent adherence even under the most infuriating and frustrating circumstances. It sets an important standard for lesser elections, as everything Presidents and their opponents do set standards going forward. We would not have Stacey Abrams still claiming she was robbed of being elected Georgia governor had not Hillary cleared the path.
Being a poor loser is especially unethical and damaging in the context of Presidential elections, but it has always been recognized as unethical conduct and evidence of flawed character. In sports, in business, in love and war, “sore loser” behavior is understood to include blaming others for the loss, not accepting responsibility for choices and actions that contributed to the defeat, reacting to the loss in an immature or uncivil fashion, making excuses, and blaming bad luck and tangential factors for the defeat. In terms of ethical values, poor losing conduct includes a lack of grace, proportion and humility; failure to accept responsibility and accountability; dishonesty, hypocrisy, disrespect and bad citizenship. Obviously it also represents a rejection of the Golden Rule.
Using these measurements, Donald Trump, against all odds, seemed to have beaten Hillary Clinton once again in an upset, this time achieving a far less enviable achievement, winning the title of All-Time Bad Presidential Loser.
But Hillary wasn’t through.
As a featured guest on NBC’s new Masterclass streaming platform, which supposedly features lessons from “luminaries from all walks of life,” Clinton decided that it was appropriate to recite what she said was the speech she would have given on election night had she won the Presidency as she expected.
“In this lesson, I’m going to face one of my most public defeats head-on by sharing with you the speech I had hoped to deliver if I had won the 2016 election,” Clinton says in the video. “I’ve never shared this with anybody. I’ve never read this out loud. But it helps to encapsulate who I am, what I believe in, and what my hopes were for the kind of country that I want for my grandchildren, and that I want for the world, that I believe in that is America at its best.’ Then she reads the speech. If you want to know what she said, go here.
Personally, I don’t care what is in the speech: reciting it is evidence enough of an inability to accept defeat. She even breaks down during the video—way to show women make strong leaders, there, Hill! Doing this sure does show “who she is,” a bitter, petty, angry person who lacks the character to move on from disappointment. No previous candidate for any office has ever before performed such bathos in public. No Oscar losers have either, or expectant Nobel Prize nominees who failed to get the prize. Why? Because its pathetic, weak and narcissistic, that’s why, and every other loser of a high profile contest understood that offering an alternate reality that never was is as weird as it is cringe-worthy.
Add to this the fact it is highly dubious Clinton had such a speech at the ready in 2016. I don’t believe it: for one thing, prepared victory speeches by winning Presidential candidates are extremely rare—frankly, I can’t think of one—because they reek of arrogance. Supporters at election night victory parties want spontaneity, not scripted platitudes. Even if Hillary had such a speech prepared, who believes that she wouldn’t have had an aide or four check it for phrases and sentiments that would grate five years later? i don’t, not for a moment.
This stunt, the action of someone in the throes of pathologically acute bad loser syndrome, is unprecedented. So is it enough to reclaim the ugly crown from Donald Trump?
Not quite. Clinton loses to Trump again. Despite an extraordinary attempt at a comeback, he’s still the Worst Loser.
Pointer: Other Bill
14 thoughts on “The Worst Loser”
You nailed it. Trump it is by a hanging chad…
But it’s actually rather sad to see her stoop to such a stunt.
Throughout most of my adult life, I have been of the opinion that character, especially integrity, is extremely important in any leader. Those lacking it may be successful, but ultimately they will prove to be the type of leader we do not want. In my ‘voting age’ experience (starting with Johnson vs. Goldwater) the contest which presented us with the two worst candidates in terms of character was in 2016. Both had revealed well before the election that they were lacking the personal integrity that I wanted to see in a president. There is a legitimate argument that the voter still must choose between two such candidates, so when it comes to pulling the lever or filling in that little circle on the mail-in ballot, we might hold our nose and go with the one whose policies seem most agreeable.
Since 2016, both Clinton and Trump have re-affirmed what I believed about them before the election, so it is no surprise to see them presented as candidates for worst loser, and once again we are asked, this time in an academic situation, to choose between the lesser of two evils. Perhaps reflecting my semi-rural upbringing, we can debate this ‘until the cows come home’ (at which point we get back to work). The work, in this case, is to do what we can to ensure that the political system presents us with better candidates and that our educational systems present us with better-informed and more-rational voters.
I understand the value in making ethical choices, even in situations that have no practical impact, but, in this case, I say a pox on both of them.
In this case, I say a piece of falling Soviet-era space junk on both of them.
The one consolation I have is that this nation has, at least to date, shown a remarkable capability to self-correct. That’s part of the genius of the Constitution. What is actually even more worrisome than the fact that the system produced these two wretches (and followed up by advancing a senile hand puppet to replace him) is the fact that there are so many in this nation are actively hostile to the premises that made previous course corrections possible.
We know who they are – the Covid tyrants, the court-packers, the academic myrmidons, big tech, the National Popular Vote Compact people, big tech, much of the news media, and others.
Those forces lined up against a 232-year-old document. It’s a worrisome battlefield.
There is no way to make objective comparisons regarding worst loser. Trump challenges the results and makes lots of noise, goes to court and claims victory while Clinton chooses to use here Democrat enablers to undermine Trump going as far as engaging the willing intelligence agencies and the FBI to portray Trump either as an enemy agent or an on the take politician.
So, I suppose worst loser depends on how you define worst. Is worst defined by the level of noise or by the damage done to the system.
I didn’t get into it, because it’s a separate issue, but how nauseating that NBC would enable such a stunt. That so many ever carried a torch for this truly awful, corrupt woman was always amazing; that the news media still is doing so is an indictment of their intelligence. Their lack of integrity has already been settled.
Hillary and Bill running out of rent money?
Hillary reminds me of an overrated classmate of mine from college, who I’ll just refer to as Phil. A poet and far-left peace activist from the Chicago area, he was good, very good, at wordsmithing and writing pretentious poetry. He also had a super-high opinion of himself, and to this day thinks that the world would be another Eden if everyone would just listen to him. Unfortunately, junior and senior year Phil was surpassed as the number one English major in my class by Chris, another Chicagoan, a decidedly more practical and less idealistic man from a family of career emergency services guys (you know, those racist firemen and cops). What is more, although Phil was still in the running for valedictorian (they invited the top 30 in the class to submit, then culled it to 3 finalists, then picked from those 3), he was again surpassed by Chris and didn’t make the final 3, although Chris also fell short as a third classmate named Rick got the nod with a speech on heroics and possibly RFK (the sole woman to make the top 3, a history major named Jill, surprisingly was also passed by, or maybe not so surprisingly, since 30 years ago they still decided based on the quality of the speech, not the gender or color of the writer).
Well, Phil didn’t take this decision lying down. He had founded one of about four additional newspapers to the main one on campus to sprout during the time I was there (including a conservative one based on the Dartmouth Review, a liberal one, a black one, and his, a pacifist one), and, as Editor-in-Chief, he controlled what went in. In the last issue published under his leadership, before we all had to gear up for our last set of exams, he published his peace activist, anti-everything screed, implying heavily if not outright stating that the powers that be suppressed what he had to say because they were terrified of his message. To this day, since he’s been on social media, he republishes the speech online every spring around graduation time. Although he’s now a professor elsewhere, faculty advisor to the peace activist clubs, and father to two daughters he’s raising/has raised to be good little activists and socialists, he’s never gotten over the fact that he didn’t win that honor back in undergrad, and that he, the great enlightened successor to Gandhi and the smartest person in any room he entered, lost out to a son of cops and firemen and a golden boy with a speech on heroism.
Phil was wedded to a narrative, in which he was not only a great scholar who knew everything about everything and surpassed everyone else, but this great moral figure who towered above and was better than those plebs learning more prosaic things like accounting or chemistry. When it was derailed, he couldn’t grasp it, or accept it. The same is true of Hillary. Her speech says it all. She saw herself as a chosen messianic figure who was going to finally justify all those women who marched to get the 19th Amendment passed and burned bras and whatever else. She was on a glide path, the only decision left was which pantsuit to wear to her inauguration. Suddenly this all fell apart at the last minute and she lost to…who? This did not compute. She wasn’t taking it lying down either, and did her part to make damn sure that Orange Man would never be able to govern. Unfortunately, the rest of us had to suffer to assuage her big ego.
Trump has two things going for him that make him, in my opinion, marginally less of a sore loser than Hillary. One, he has plenty of things to point to that support his opinion that this last election wasn’t completely on the up and up, although fraud doesn’t appear to be one of them. Two, he actually has a chance to win it all back in 2024, and it’s to his advantage to keep firing up his base with the myth that he was cheated in 2020. The one thing that puts Hillary slightly ahead, at least in this writer’s opinion, is that she set the precedent for not accepting or admitting defeat, especially not defeat by someone you can’t stand or who you don’t believe to be a worthy opponent. I believe this has spread and is going to spread further as the two political sides in this country get farther and farther apart and hate each other more and more. Neither side is going to want to work with the other, nor, eventually, even allow the other side to govern as it was elected to. The real losers are going to be the purple states, where nothing will ever get done, as denying the other side a win will become far more important than governing. Ultimately states will become either California or Wyoming, where one party dominates all, until finally that party or an element of it goes too far, as in Seattle, where the moderates pretty much swept and the far-left firebrand councilwoman is now fighting for her political life, or in Virginia, which is now history. Even when those changes happen, though, the losing side will blame anything but its own shortcomings. The losing side in VA is already blaming the “boogeyman of CRT,” like their loss was due to a moral panic by unprogressive parents who just refuse to accept that now black people are fully equal, rather than an anti-American, anti-white, America last overreach.
Ultimately history may well be kinder to Trump than to Hillary.
Hillary’s simply the worst. She’s the easy winner in my book. Without even breaking a sweat.
Your analysis is spot on, Steve. The fraying (fracturing?) of the culture is in full bloom, where it is considered inspired for a NYT op-ed to advocate, openly and notoriously I might add, outright racism with no questions asked.
“The real losers are going to be the purple states, where nothing will ever get done, as denying the other side a win will become far more important than governing.”
Funny thing though: sometimes doing nothing is indeed the best possible course of action.
“Add to this the fact it is highly dubious Clinton had such a speech at the ready in 2016.”
I’m not sure I would agree with this. I think I would have had two prepared. Kind of reminds me of that scene near the end of Chicago where they have two newspapers ready to go if she is guilty or not. However, I do think you have a point about no one saying anything prior to it. Seems like nothing is secret anymore.
I want to say that Clinton is the slightly worse loser, if only because it’s been five years since her loss, and she’s still on about her loss plus the fact that at least some of Trump’s loss can be placed on external factors. Most of Trump’s loss can be placed at his feet, but not all, whereas all of Clinton’s loss can be placed on her feet. That alone lets Clinton grab the “win” in my opinion.
“We would not have Stacey Abrams still claiming she was robbed of being elected Georgia governor had not Hillary cleared the path.”
This alone gives Hilldog the win.
Jack wrote, “We would not have Stacey Abrams still claiming she was robbed of being elected Georgia governor had not Hillary cleared the path.”
Nah. Abrams would have made those claims regardless of whether Trump or Clinton won. She was the heir-apparent and, by gum, was entitled to that seat. Period. Denial is proof of racism, sexism, and anti-dental correction bias.