Making the rounds on social media Tuesday morning was a passage from Hillary Clinton's forthcoming book that was tweeted out by a liberal journalist in possession of a coveted early copy. In the one-page excerpt, Clinton blasts Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for inflicting "lasting damage" on her candidacy and her reputation.
Clinton's contention appears to be that Sanders, who she claims entered the primary only to "disrupt the Democratic Party," prioritized those efforts over beating the GOP. "His attacks caused lasting damage," she wrote, "making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump's ‘Crooked Hillary' campaign."
In public reflections on her defeat, Clinton has routinely drawn headlines for pointing to external forces — sexism, Russia, James Comey — rather than her own faults.
The passage released Tuesday further confirms the former secretary of state's book will likely be one long attempt to lay blame for her electoral defeat at the feet of actors outside her campaign.
By her assessment, of course, it's Sanders' fault the "Crooked Hillary" narrative resonated. But the stench of corruption can hardly be attributed to Sanders, as it has trailed the Clintons throughout their political careers. Peter Schweizer's bestselling Clinton Cash was released to strong reviews just as the Democratic primary kicked into gear, laying out a pattern of behavior at the Clinton Foundation that Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig said, "on any fair reading," constituted corruption.
Clinton's apparent bid to repair her own image will end in irony. Although she's received fawning coverage from some major news outlets, Clinton's insistence upon blaming others for her defeat does not appear to be endearing her to voters. Since November, the failed candidate's unfavorability rating has actually increased from 55 to 57 percent, according to Gallup. Her favorability rating has plateaued as well. "With the exception of John Kerry, for whom there are no comparable data, losing presidential candidates since 1992 have experienced a boost of at least four percentage points in favorability when averaging their ratings from the day after the election through the following June. ... But for Clinton, this has not been the case. Seven months after her failed bid for the presidency, she remains as unpopular now as she was then," Gallup observed in June.
Apart from backfiring with the public, Clinton's jabs at Sanders will also only add fuel to the fire raging among Democrats whose loyalties are still split between her and the Vermont senator. Though she slams Sanders in the newly-released excerpt for making the party's efforts to unite harder after the primary, Clinton's book appears poised to make the party's efforts to unite harder ahead of the midterms. After a decade of devastating down ballot defeats, that's division Democrats just can't afford right now.
But Clinton knows that. While she's implicitly accusing Sanders of prioritizing his own interests over those of the Democratic Party, in inflaming tensions between her supporters and his, she's doing the very same.
She just believes the public is too foolish to notice.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.