Harvard spat between Clinton, Trump camps proves Dems can't accept Trump's improving

As a proud alumna of the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), it was saddening to hear of the contentious outbreak at the affiliated Harvard Institute Of Politics (IOP) forum involving the Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders thanks Iowa voters for giving momentum to progressive agenda Manchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Arizona newspaper backs Democrat in dead heat Senate race MORE and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE campaign staff.


That forum is where I’d spent many hours listening to and engaging with world leaders kind enough to meet with students dedicated to public service; it was where we gathered for the school’s talent show, for our school graduation photo, and more. That such a venue would devolve into a shouting match of anger and name-calling, particularly by Team Clinton, highlights the ongoing bitterness between the two camps.


Yet, in some ways, these political operatives were as divided as the nation itself.

While the exchange was extraordinary — reportedly this long-term tradition has never been so hostile — it was also illustrative of broader trends.

It’s clear that the Clinton camp has been unable to come to terms with its defeat, just as many of its supporters continue their mantra of #NotMyPresident.

What is interesting is that the Clinton staffers’ name-calling and anger embodied the very sort of hostile decorum that Clinton had been decrying against Trump. That Clinton would participate in electoral recounts is a 180 degree turn from her attacks on Trump for saying in the final presidential debate that he may not accept the electoral results.

But the IOP exchange also tapped into deep-seated fears of many liberals in the darkest ways, and the hyperbole of the Clinton staffers illustrates that just as millions of Americans projected irrational hopes onto Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaLive coverage: Gillum clashes with DeSantis in Florida debate Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa Republicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat MORE, it appears millions have also projected irrational fears onto Donald Trump.

But their deepest fears have not been realized and, indeed, hype about white supremacy creeping over the electorate doesn’t match with the fact that Trump actually shrunk his percentage of the white vote (58 percent) compared to Mitt Romney (59 percent), and Trump gained ground over Romney with black and Latino voters.

Trump has also toned down his rhetoric and selected credentialed, reasonable staff picks like KT McFarland as deputy national security advisor, attorney Donald McGahn as White House counsel and Gov. Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador.

If Trump’s early administration picks have made some on the Left nervous, as well as conservatives like Glenn Beck, they also follow a more typical pattern of rewarding campaign loyalists before a pivot outward beyond the original startup founders. Think President Obama naming conservative Republican Jon Huntsman, Jr., his ambassador to China after he’d given earlier spoils to his Chicago intimates.

The possible selection of Romney, an able businessman (and former governor of Massachusetts--home of the IOP) who saved the Olympics from the brink of bankruptcy, also signals the pragmatism and efficacy of a businessman willing to move past grudges he held on the campaign trail, especially against #NeverTrump conservatives.

This apparent fluidity is a trait that Obama himself noted when he said he believes Trump will be driven by pragmatism, not ideology, as he governs, though he did worry that Trump’s temperament could be problematic.

Also in Trump’s favor is the fact that the pugnacious New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who just presided over an unprecedented tenth credit downgrade of his state, has been removed from the presidential transition team.

Rabble rousing Christie’s profligate management of state fiduciary duties has been perhaps the most under-reported deficiency of Christie’s past, even as the airwaves have been saturated with reports about Bridgegate and the feud with Jared Kushner’s family. By removing Christie from a prominent role in the transition team, Trump helps keep some of his drama in Manhattan, away from the swamp.

Top this off with news that, contrary to the rather surreal experience of Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena reverberating with GOP delegates’ chants of “Lock Her Up!,” Trump has decided that his administration would not pursue criminal investigations surrounding Hillary Clinton’s private email server or her family foundation.

If justice really is blind, Clinton would have arguably been disqualified for president as prior cases indicated she should have been banned from being near classified material.

At the IOP, the Clinton staff was in denial of the seriousness of their candidate's betrayal to national security.

The Clinton team also failed to acknowledge the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 19,000 in history recently for the first time in its 120-year history and that the U.S. dollar has been the strongest in nearly 14 years. Will Americans, as Trump claimed, get sick of winning under his watch?

Yes, Trump has behaved atrociously both before launching his campaign and in many episodes along the way, and the Clinton camp was focused solely on that narrative. Yet they also failed to concede to their campaign staff counterparts the very real potential that the playboy billionaire had indeed been h.

For most of his life he played the role of spoiled narcissist; for the past 18 months he has endured the grueling crush of a liberal national press corps anxious to see him fail. 

"I've traveled the country talking about change for America but my travels have also changed me,” Trump said after the disgusting Billy Bush tape was revealed,

“I've spent time with grieving mothers who have spent lost their children, laid off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country and I've been humbled by the faith they've placed in me.”

America has always believed in second chances and comebacks; why was “Rocky” so damn popular? Liberals were incredibly forgiving of Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonConservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign Sen. Walter Huddleston was a reminder that immigration used to be a bipartisan issue No, civility isn't optional MORE’s long list of personal indiscretions, priding priding themselves on seeing the world in shades of gray, not in the black and white simpleton thinking of people like Trump supporters.

Yet perhaps many liberals, especially those now chanting “Not my president” in the streets are failing to see Trump with any potential for redemption. For them, the possible Romney pick is only evidence of the patrician former Massachusetts governor caving rather than Trump reforming.

After Trump defied all expectations to win the Oval Office, perhaps for the betterment of the country it’s time these Clinton staffers, and liberals more broadly, take a different read of the tea leaves.

Carrie Sheffield is founder of Bold and a Senior Contributor to Opportunity Lives.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.