What is different about Hillary Clinton is the rampant misogyny still being directed at her, even now; the palpable disgust at her re-emergence; the demand that she get out of the way; the call for her to accept total responsibility for her loss without even acknowledging outside factors like the Russian disinformation campaign, the Comey letter, or GOP voter ID laws that cost her Wisconsin.
Gore, who managed to lose (okay, sort of lose) an election despite being the sitting vice president in an administration with 65 percent approval, blamed a hostile media, the Supreme Court’s absurd one-off decision to halt the proceedings in Florida, and the butterfly ballots. In 2007, Evgenia Peretz of Vanity Fair described him thusly: “He is the Bono of the environment, the Cassandra of Iraq, the star of an Oscar-winning film, and a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. To the amusement of his kids, some people now actually consider him cool.” Gore reportedly got paid at least $175,000 per speech after he won the Nobel Peace Prize. He got divorced. And yet, in 2009, he had a 58-37 approval spread. This is the man whose campaign mistakes inflicted eight years of calamitous misrule on the country. If he ever apologized, I must have missed it.
Kerry never accepted one iota of responsibility for becoming the second consecutive Democrat to lose an election to George W. Bush. Years later, as detailed in this New Yorker profile, he clung to a ludicrous conspiracy theory and nurtured “the suspicion that in certain states, particularly Ohio, where the Electoral College count hinged, proxies for Bush had rigged many voting machines.” He blamed his campaign manager, Bob Shrum. He blamed the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, that pack of lying opportunists who slimed Kerry’s war record. (Side note: Swift Boater Jerome Corsi now works for InfoWars and just got White House press credentials. Yay!). What he did not do was cop to any of his own mistakes. He went back to the Senate, where no one demanded that he give up his seat for a younger politician. The final poll taken about John Kerry while he was Obama’s secretary of state gave him a 10-point positive spread in his approval rating. Gandhi he is not, but it is safe to say that America has forgiven John Kerry for his sins.
In October 2009, just one year after his crushing loss to Obama, McCain was regarded favorably by 54 percent of respondents, remained a press darling, and never disavowed his choice to make the wilderness wastrel Sarah Palin his running mate, a decision that by one estimate cost him 2 million votes. Had the Great Recession not struck during the campaign, Palin may well have been remembered as the key to his election loss. McCain was within striking distance of Obama before an embarrassing series of interviews revealed Palin’s political ignorance and the September 2008 economic meltdown then put the race decisively out of reach. In an interview days after the election, McCain blamed the national political climate and stood by Palin. He failed to list a single mistake his campaign had made. He said he “slept like a baby.” Today he remains a curmudgeonly favorite despite not lifting a finger to hold President Trump accountable.
Again, the “tradition” that losing candidates say nothing but “this was entirely my fault I was horrible” — preferably wearing a hairshirt and nipple clamps — and then retire from public life was invented in 2017. And Clinton is being held to this imaginary new standard although objectively she has more reason to be upset than the typical losing candidate — no previous loser has won the popular vote by two points or had the Director of the FBI baselessly imply that he was a crook less than two weeks before Election Day. It’s just classic Clinton rules bullshit, treating utterly banal behavior as highly unusual and disturbing because it involves Clinton. That’s it.