Hillary Clinton to suffer peculiar torture at Trump inauguration
All eyes will be on losing candidate as she stands close to president taking oath of office
Hillary Clinton making a concession speech after being defeated by Trump: she has only made a handful of public appearances since then. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
It is the day she expected to make history as America’s first female president. Instead Hillary Clinton will undergo a special kind of torture on Friday when she stands just yards from the spot where Donald Trump takes the oath of office.
Mrs Clinton (69), who lost to Mr Trump in the most bitterly divisive election in modern times, will be present at his inauguration in Washington alongside her husband, former president Bill Clinton. In a Shakespearean twist, she will watch silently with cameras trained on her as the man she denounced as unfit for office, and who threatened to jail her, claims the crown for which she strived for so long.
“It has to be an emotionally difficult day, but she won’t give any outward sign,” said Robert Shrum, a Democratic party consultant. “She will have a stiff upper lip.”
Agonisingly narrow margins
She will not be the first losing candidate to be so close yet so far on the riser at the US Capitol. Outgoing vice-presidents Richard Nixon in 1961 and Al Gore in 2001 watched close up as the men who beat them by agonisingly narrow margins were sworn in.
Mr Shrum worked for Mr Gore, who won the popular vote but lost the electoral college after a dispute settled at the supreme court. He said: “He behaved extraordinarily well because he thought it was important for the country. I think Hillary Clinton will behave perfectly.”
Mrs Clinton and her campaign knew the stakes in the election against celebrity billionaire Trump were unusually high. “I’m the last thing standing between you and the apocalypse,” she told the New York Times in October. So her surprise defeat on November 8th was shattering, and she has only made a handful of public appearances since her emotional concession speech the following day.
Her efforts to recover have included walking her dog in the woods near her home in Chappaqua, north of New York City, where several supporters have chanced upon her and taken photos with her. She told a gathering of donors that FBI director James Comey’s late intervention was crucial to the outcome.
Tearful young women
Last month Mrs Clinton resumed political duties, speaking at an unveiling ceremony for a portrait of retiring Senate minority leader Harry Reid. “This is not exactly the speech at the Capitol I hoped to be giving after the election,” she said. A group of tearful young women thanked her.
The Clintons and their daughter, Chelsea, attended the final performance of The Color Purple on Broadway, to standing ovations. Then Mrs Clinton joined other former secretaries of state for the opening of a diplomacy centre at the state department. There has even been media speculation over a potential run for mayor of New York.
Mrs Clinton knows well the theatre of inaugurations. She attended those for her husband in 1993 and 1997 and looked on as Barack Obama, who defeated her in the Democratic primary, took office in 2009. But she and many others believed 2017 would bring her turn to be centre stage.
Grace Bennett, editor and publisher of Inside Chappaqua, who met the former first lady recently, said she was “proud” of Mrs Clinton’s decision to attend Mr Trump’s big day.
“I think it was probably a tough call. It’s a classy move. It tells you a lot about what she’s made of. She can rise above her own disappointment and loss and be a witness to history with a different set of eyes from Trump supporters.”
– Guardian service