WASHINGTON — It's inauguration day and the loser of the last U.S. presidential election is daydreaming about being anywhere but here — she's imagining vacationing on a beach, speaking with past election losers, anything but watching Donald J. Trump raise his hand and take the oath of office.
Hillary Clinton begins the first chapter of her 2016 election memoir, "What Happened," by describing how she agonized over whether to attend the January swearing-in, fearful she might be booed and heckled with chants of, "Lock her up!"
"Deep breath. Feel the air fill my lungs. This is the right thing to do,'' she writes in the book, released Tuesday.
''Breathe out. Scream later. ... I'm imagining that I'm anywhere but here. Bali maybe? Bali would be good.''
She said she imagined Barack Obama sharing the limousine ride over with a man who built his political following on the lie that he was born an African. She said she shared a rueful look with Michelle Obama — ''It said, 'Can you believe this?'''
She said she'd known Trump for years and initially assumed he was running for president as a joke: ''Now here he was, with his hand on the Bible, promising to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution...
''The joke, it turned out, was on us.''
Clinton's anguish was compounded by whom she'd lost to.
I think Comey cost me the election.
She said she still considers Trump a threat to the country, with dangerous, anti-democratic impulses: "Look, if I'd lost to a Republican, a normal Republican, of course I'd be disappointed... But this is beyond anything I'd imagined,'' she told an interviewer during her book tour.
"I'm not saying he's going to start killing journalists. But I am saying that he likes the idea of unaccountable, unchecked power. We've never had to face that in a serious way in our country."
The book dissects her defeat.
It blames the following:
— Herself. She's often accused of being inauthentic and she admits that she stifles her feelings: "I wear my composure like a suit of armour, for better or worse.''
— Sen. Bernie Sanders. She says her primary opponent unfairly maligned her, then half-heartedly rallied to her side: ''I didn't get anything like that respect (I showed Obama in 2008) from Sanders and his supporters. And it hurt. He dragged it out. And he was so reluctant,'' Clinton said in an interview on her book tour this week, on the podcast, ''Pod Save America.
''But why would we be surprised? He's not a Democrat.''
She said Sanders ran on simple solutions like universal medicare and she couldn't: "If I had said, 'Okay, we're going to have universal health care! Single-payer!' first question would have been, 'Well, why didn't President Obama do that?' Well (I would have said), 'because it was really hard and what he got done was amazing. You know, see, that's tough.' Whereas, Sanders is not even a Democrat — he criticized the president all the time."
—James Comey. "I think Comey cost me the election.'' The then-FBI director released a letter shortly before election day, announcing he had reopened an investigation into her emails to examine a newly discovered laptop. He also held a public event where he criticized her, but said he would not be seeking criminal charges.
—The Russians. Clinton warns that the election was a wake-up call that the U.S. adversary will use new cyber tools to weaken the United States.
—Partisanship. ''I think also people with an, 'R,' by their names said, 'Okay, I want my tax cut, I want my Supreme Court justice'," she told the podcast interview.
—The media. She accuses them of various sins. In the podcast interview, she referred to a study that said television news devoted 200 minutes to policy issues in the 2008 election, 114 minutes in 2012, and 32 minutes in 2016.
She said television covered the election like some reality show — featuring Trump, an actual reality-TV star.
"I think they're doing some soul-searching now,'' she said in the interview. ''But at the time they all thought I was going to win. They thought it was a free shot — just covering his latest outrage was good for ratings. ... They've got to understand they carry this really solemn responsibility."
She said media excessively covered her email scandal.
Trump shares joke about book title
A new study by Harvard's Berkman Klein Center suggests she's right. It found coverage of the email issue dwarfed everything else. It quantifies how media wrote about her emails many times more than all the policies she proposed, combined.
By comparison, media focused more on Trump's priorities — trade, immigration and jobs — than his scandals, says the 142-page study.
Many progressive Democrats have voiced outrage over her attacks on Sanders. The Vermont senator himself says he's focused on his medicare bill, $15 minimum wage and protecting migrants: ''It's appropriate to look forward and not backward,'' Sanders told the congressional newspaper The Hill.
Trump retweeted a joke about her book title: ''What Happened... I Happened.''