The hour of defeat

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-13-37-13Not long after the US presidential election, Dalrymple picks up a newspaper. Leafing through it, he comes across, amid all the Trumpery, a picture of Hillary Clinton in the hour of her defeat.

The photograph did something that I previously should not have thought possible: it made me feel sorry for her, for it was the photograph of an old woman. The skin round her neck had become wrinkled as a turkey’s; her face was no longer as smooth as a plastic surgeon’s dream; she exuded no longer a false youth, as if the years had taken no toll of her; and defeat, sorrow, and grief, perhaps even a kind of senile incomprehension, were in her eyes.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-13-41-46It is, says Dalrymple,

one thing to experience a hopeful ambition ignominiously shattered at a time in life when there is still time for another, but it is quite another thing when it is too late for any comparable ambition to be realised.

He is surprised by his feeling of sympathy,

I who had previously detested her for her ruthless self-righteousness and self-righteous ruthlessness, with one eye always fixed on high moral principle and the other on the main chance, the latter always seeming to triumph over the former.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-21-36-05But Dalrymple’s sympathy does not go very deep or last very long. Those who live by ambition die by ambition.

If you make the achievement of power the meaning of your life and you are thwarted in it, some kind of collapse is only to be expected.


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