Every living first lady recently spoke out against Donald Trump's horrific policy of separating children from their parents at the Southern border. We heard Laura Bush's Washington Post op-ed quoted over and over. It was widely reported that Michelle Obama retweeted a portion of Bush's commentary, and we even saw a rare statement from Rosalynn Carter. The current first lady, who finally went to the Texas border Thursday, also decried the separations earlier in the week (though we won't get into that jacket she wore Thursday).
I was fortunate enough to be watching MSNBC when former Secretary of State, former U.S. Senator, Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, and former First Lady Hillary Clinton delivered the keynote address Monday at the Women's Forum in New York. She was concerned, calm, rational, and, well, presidential. She called Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which was responsible for the separation of children and parents, a "moral and humanitarian crisis." I was glad I watched the speech live because I never saw it again. When all the living first ladies were mentioned in the coverage of this terrible blight on our nation, Clinton's name was omitted or mumbled at the end of the list.
During her speech blasting "zero tolerance," Clinton reminded us that she warned us during the 2016 campaign that Trump's hard-line stance on immigration would result in family separations. She has the right to tell us she was right. It makes some uncomfortable, but she was correct about many things regarding Trump. Nonetheless, the old "she should go away" posts lit up my social media.
The truth is, Hillary resoundingly won the popular vote. Her 3-million-vote advantage was wiped out by Trump's tiny margins in three states, Michigan (0.2 percent), Pennsylvania (0.7 percent) and Wisconsin (0.8 percent). The Electoral College does not give us fair presidential elections; our votes do not count equally. And the person -- the woman -- who won millions more votes is routinely told to shut up.
Meanwhile, the question of Russian interference has been resolved with a resounding yes. Trump campaign collusion looks more certain as Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team press on. The question of Trump's presidential legitimacy is real. Clinton may have been robbed of the presidency, and we as a nation do not know what to do about it. Her presence reminds us of this and makes many uncomfortable. If she would just go away, we wouldn't have to think about the utter injustice and helplessness of the situation.
But Trump, oddly, refuses to let the election go, continuing to attack "Crooked Hillary" on Twitter. Unlike the feckless president, much of the public would love to see the 2016 election fade away. We can't make Trump disappear, but we can make Clinton go away by casting her as a loser who should leave the playing field once and for all.
But the congressional Republicans want Hillary around as much as Trump does. Even this week, they continue to beat the email drum, calling for hearings to investigate the investigation of the investigation into Clinton's emails because they do not like the conclusion of the Department of Justice inspector general's report. If the IG's report exonerates anyone, it's Clinton, finding the investigation into her mishandling of emails proper and the conclusion to not charge her as sound. Even fired FBI director James Comey is labeled "insubordinate" for publicly castigating Clinton, going against FBI policy, and possibly costing her the election. But the GOP figures if the public's attention goes back to Hillary and her emails, voters might not notice what Trump and his cohorts -- some now in jail -- did to "win" the election.
The Republicans who now belong to Trump will never let Hillary go, and Trump will never let Hillary go if she serves his purpose as fodder for his base. The media, a bit uneasy about the role they played in Trump's 2016 Electoral College victory, would rather not talk about her either. A Democratic Party adrift with no real new leader emerging can't embrace her either.
Then there are the millions who follow Clinton on social media, looking to her for hope and guidance. Through it all, she's happy to oblige. Just this week, Hillary helped raise $1.5 million to help migrant kids taken from their parents. That's action; all the rest is noise.
SUSAN SURFTONE is a musician who previously served as an FBI agent. Her latest EP is Making Waves Again.