As Hillary Clinton and her closest campaign aides continue to blame everyone but themselves for her humiliating defeat in the presidential contest last November, the arrogance that made the former secretary of state such an unattractive candidate for many American voters has been thrown into an even starker light. That is not to dismiss out of hand the arguments being made by such Clinton stalwarts as Jennifer Palmieri or Joel Benenson, nor to absolve the Republican Party of blame for riding to executive and legislative power on a wave of populist nationalism. However their excuses cannot hide the fact that the decision by the Democratic Party to let Clinton have “her turn” effectively handed the White House to perhaps one of the most divisive, amateurish and certainly unworthy individuals to hold the office of the president of the United States in decades. In retrospect the signs of potential trouble were visible from the get-go in her campaign, as can be seen in this March 2015 posting by Trina Vargo, a senior player in Irish-American politics since the late 1980s and the current president of the US-Ireland Alliance, a non-profit organisation:
“Irish America publisher Niall O’Dowd may be loud, but that doesn’t make him right, or representative of most Irish Americans. In his never-ending need to ingratiate himself with the Clintons, he inducted Hillary Clinton into his Irish America Hall of Fame this week. All that did was to remind everyone that when Clinton ran against Obama in 2008, she and her camp falsely claimed she played an instrumental role in the Northern Ireland peace process leading up to the 1998 Belfast Agreement. As Senator Ted Kennedy’s foreign policy adviser, I was directly involved in that process, as was O’Dowd, and he would know full well that the First Lady’s role was far from instrumental. He keeps trying to suggest more than was there with vague but grandiose-sounding comments like, “Hillary Clinton played a leading role in creating the links between the White House and leaders on the ground that would become so important during crunch time when negotiations came.” That’s as specific as he can get, and as non-specific as he has to be, because there’s no there there.
In 1997, Irish Times journalist Conor O’Clery wrote the first detailed book on the US role in Northern Ireland as it related to obtaining that first visa for Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to visit the US and that period leading up to the Belfast Agreement. As O’Dowd was one of O’Clery’s primary sources, one would think that if the First Lady had played any significant role, he would have credited her, as would anyone else O’Clery interviewed. But in O’Clery’s, Daring Diplomacy: Clinton’s Secret Search for Peace in Ireland, Hillary Clinton is mentioned five times but there are no references to her playing any role, she is referred to merely as accompanying her husband.
Most tellingly, if her contributions to the Northern Ireland peace process were so significant, why didn’t she mention that herself in her 2003 book Living History? In the 500-page autobiography she mentions Northern Ireland on several occasions but never suggests she played an instrumental role in ending the conflict. As Maureen Dowd wrote in the New York Times in 2008, “Having a first lady tea in Belfast is not equivalent to bringing peace to Northern Ireland.””
Though Hillary Clinton had more justification for highlighting her contribution to the peace process following her election to the US Senate in 2001, or selection for the secretary of state role in 2009, her presence before those dates was negligible. That she and her supporters argued otherwise with blithe disregard for the facts spoke volumes of her integrity – and theirs.