In the fall of 2017, Hillary Clinton, assessing her defeat in the previous year’s presidential election, did something she had spent decades, for the most part, avoiding: She got angry in public. Clinton published a memoir, the bluntly titled What Happened, that included such admissions as “There are times when all I want to do is scream into a pillow” and “Reading the news every morning was like ripping off a scab.” In the book and in the media tour she undertook for its promotion, Clinton talked about the rage she felt that Donald Trump and his blustering bigotries were occupying the White House. She opened up about what it felt like for a personal loss to double as a loss of a much broader sweep. She also laid blame—on herself and her campaign, but also on James Comey, on Vladimir Putin, on the Electoral College, on the American media.
She had a point. The stories of the 2016 election, it would become clear later on, were told by some of the men who would be implicated in the accountabilities of the #MeToo movement. Clinton herself carried the freight, at that point, of decades’ worth of coverage from reporters and analysts who were still not quite sure what to make of a woman who sought political power and refused to apologize for the seeking. On the one hand, the stories went, Clinton is incapable of emotion. On the other, she is driven by a deeply held sense of vengeance. On the one hand, shrill; on the other, desperate for approval. The charges didn’t cohere, but it didn’t matter. Policy proposals are complicated to interrogate; it’s much easier to accuse the candidate of humorlessness or anger or manipulation and call it a day.