The Democratic Party is in a bad way, and Hillary Clinton isn't helping.
The party is still hurting from its shocking loss last year to President Trump, and its leaders concede they have a serious problem. When it comes to messaging and explaining what they stand for, Democrats are lost, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said this summer in an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.
"I think if we come up with this strong, bold economic package, it will – it will change things around. That's what we were missing. People don't like Trump; he's at 40 percent. But they say what the heck do the Democrats stand for?" the senator said.
He's onto something.
For the past eight years, Democratic influence has seen a nationwide decline. Voters have turned away from them.
When President Barack Obama came to office in 2009, his party controlled 59 percent of state legislative bodies. Democrats now control only 31 percent. Eight years ago, there were 29 Democratic governors. Now there are only 16.
Democrats lost control of the U.S. House in 2010. They lost the Senate four years later. Democrats lost the 2016 presidential election to a historically unpopular GOP candidate. They have also lost four special elections held since President Donald Trump was voted into office.
In short, they're sinking and they need solutions fast.
To that end, Schumer and other party leaders have been brainstorming ideas to rebuild the party and win back voters. They've unveiled a new economic message ("A Better Deal"). They're doing listening tours. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Clinton's chief 2016 Democratic primary challenger, has rolled out his "Medicare For All" proposal. Things started to look especially good for Democrats when Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., announced her support for Sanders' bill.
The California senator's support is notable not only because it suggests there may be some steam building behind the Vermont senator's proposal, but also because it signals the Clinton wing of the party may be ready to move on from last year's primary infighting.
Enter Hillary Clinton, who is anything but ready to move on.
Her new book, What Happened, is a litany of all the people and things she blames for losing to Trump. She takes shots at Sanders. She takes shots at former Vice President Joe Biden. She takes shots at Obama. She even throws an annoyed glance at the thousands of people who attended the Women's March in Washington, D.C., in January.
The book reveals a woman who is both furious that she lost and determined to make the case it's not her fault.
Now, it'd be one thing if Clinton just released the book and left it at that. People would notice her criticism of her fellow Democrats, and there would be a few days' worth of unflattering coverage for the continued squabbling within the Democratic Party. It'd distract from the party's bigger plans to repackage themselves to voters, but it'd be short-lived.
Unfortunately for Schumer and company, Clinton wants more than just a book release. She's on a publicity tour now, traveling from one venue to the next, explaining who, exactly, is responsible for her stunning defeat.
This is great timing indeed. Just when it seems like her own party is getting its act together, and Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have ingratiated themselves in the Oval Office, the former secretary of state is touring the country opening healing wounds.
In an interview this week with CNN's Anderson Cooper, for example, Clinton reiterated the line in her book where she says she offers no "absolution" for those who regret not voting for her.
She has also spent a significant amount of time on the road taking swipes at Sanders, whom she assigns a great deal of blame for her loss.
"When I lost to Barack Obama [in 2008], I immediately turned around. I endorsed him, I worked for him, I convinced my supporters to vote for him," Clinton said in an interview this weekend with CBS News. "I didn't get the same respect from my primary opponent."
Sanders campaigned a great deal for Clinton after she was nominated by the Democratic Party. In fact, he was one of her most prolific campaign surrogates.
Clinton patronizingly said elsewhere in her interview with CNN's Cooper that Sanders, "could be helpful if he so chose, and that's what I'm calling on him to do."
In yet another interview, this time with NPR, she accused the Vermont senator's supporters of being vicious sexists.
"[W]omen will have no empathy for you [when you're successful], because they will be under tremendous pressure – and I'm talking principally about white women – they will be under tremendous pressure from fathers and husbands and boyfriends and male employers not to vote for 'the girl,'" Clinton said, referring to a conversation she said she had with Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg.
"We saw a lot of that during the primaries from Sanders supporters, really quite vile attacks online against women who spoke out for me; as I say, one of my biggest support groups, Pantsuit Nation, literally had to become a private site because there was so much sexism directed their way," she added.
There's much more Sanders criticism where that came from. In fact, many of Clinton's appearances this week on cable and network television have included additional complaints to the ones already featured in What Happened.
Republicans, who have huge problems of their own, should consider sending Clinton some flowers and chocolates. The Democrats are making serious inroads with the president, they've won six GOP-held legislative seats this year and they're mounting serious efforts to push through Medicare legislation. Imagine all the work they could accomplish if they didn't also have to answer for all the dirty laundry aired by their own former nominee.
It must be annoying for Democrats to have one of their most visible members touring the nation so that she can level sustained criticism at their current members of Congress and their supporters. It must be embarrassing to see their former nominee go in front of cameras so that she can dredge up the party's supposed failings from the previous election. At a moment when Democrats are trying hard to reintroduce themselves to voters, Clinton seems intent on making everyone re-live the past. If the GOP were smart, they'd encourage her to keep writing and talking.
Clinton, of course, maintains that she's not doing anything to harm or hinder her party, and she insists she can help Democrats move forward.
"I don't buy that [I'm getting in the way] at all," she told Cooper. "I think, you know, from my perspective, I have a lot of experience and expertise and insight that I'm sharing with the world, and particularly with Democrats."
"[M]aybe I'm out of politics as a candidate, but I am still deeply committed to doing anything I can to make sure that we don't lose ground to this divisive, bigotry and bias and prejudice and, you know, favoring the wealthy and the well-connected over everybody else that I see as the agenda of this White House," she added.