Like no other of his many performances, spoken or written, The Importance of Being Earnest is studded, packed to the brim, with the unequalled brilliance of Oscar Wilde’s wit. When it is established that its hero Jack Worthing (the “Earnest” of the title) has “lost” both of his parents, the dour, droll Lady Bracknell serves up the classic response: “To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”
Anyone who has read Shattered, the fresh “insider” account of Hillary Clinton’s second run for the presidency, will easily appreciate the relevance of Lady Bracknell’s crisp judgment. For her first loss, many people will kindly put it down to misfortune. Who could have thought that a candidate such as Barack Obama could emerge, that a mere freshman senator could roll the Clinton machine? Obama was a preternaturally gifted campaigner (as president we may tone down the estimate) and Hillary didn’t know, really couldn’t know, what hit her until it was too late.
The campaign of last year however, as Shattered mercilessly details, was one of the great political train wrecks of all time. By 2016, when her second effort really began, the idea that it was Hillary’s turn — this time for sure — was burned so deeply into the minds of the candidate herself and her supporters that neither Hillary or any of her vast and powerful campaign team could accommodate any indications, at any time, that she might be seriously in trouble. To them, Bernie Sanders was just a distraction, Donald Trump a loudmouth moron with no staying power at all — there was no way either of them could trouble her billion-dollar-plus, inevitable, unstoppable push to the White House.
The world knows now, of course, that there was a way, many ways in fact, and most of them supplied by the flaws, errors, misguidance and hubris of Hillary’s own campaign. Shattered offers only one conclusion: Donald Trump didn’t beat Hillary. Hillary beat Hillary. Lady Bracknell’s judgment rules. It was carelessness, carelessness fostered by the pure hubris of a cloistered mind, that brought her down.