I’ve often wondered what it is about politics that intrigues me so much. It’s a repulsive enterprise in so many ways, filled with smarmy, backstabbing characters who, when they’re not kissing babies, are stealing their lollipops–and those are just the good guys. I think it has something to do with why I’ve always been attracted to writing, specifically the mechanics of weaving together theme and story to produce a compelling narrative. When you think about it, political campaigns are a lot like that, with the candidate playing the role of the central protagonist and the voters following his journey. Even if the candidate is a flawed person, if he’s interesting enough you just can’t help but want to know how everything turns out–especially when the odds are stacked against him.
Then there’s Hillary Clinton.
Throughout her political career, it’s always been obvious that she had a singular goal: to snake her way back into the White House by any means necessary. What she couldn’t do, however, was offer a coherent reason why. Oh sure, there was the power and the prestige. And there was the chance to make history as the first woman president, just as Barack Obama had done as the first black president. But in terms of why she should be the one to make that history, even her most ardent supporters would have a tough time explaining. That’s because she never had a personal story people cared to hear–at least until one last defeat cemented her legacy forever.
The book that chronicles her rise and fall during the 2016 election is aptly titled Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, and is now available to all you political junkies who have been salivating at the chance to get the inside scoop on the most stunning electoral upset of the modern era. The Washington Examiner has a pretty good summary of the book’s main bullet points–some of which aren’t surprising, considering what we all knew about Hillary going in, but some of which are likely to set Beltway tongues wagging. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wish you were in DC today just so you could watch the usual suspects in the Democrat Party rummaging through the index to see how their names are mentioned.
Among my favorite tidbits:
Hillary Clinton had a Trumpian attitude toward leaks from her 2008 campaign that she looked to shut them down as much as possible in 2016. After she lost the 2008 nomination fight to Obama, she had campaign hands fork over the main campaign server in order to conduct an “honest accounting” of what went wrong over the past year and a half.
“So she instructed a trusted aide to access the campaign’s server and download the messages sent and received by top staffers,” the book reports. “She believed her campaign had failed her — not the other way around — and she wanted ‘to see who was talking to who, who was leaking to who,’ said a source familiar with the operation.”
Paranoia. A good trait in someone running to be leader of the free world. Almost as good as not being able to take responsibility.
Two key Clinton staffers, campaign manager Robby Mook and Marlon Marshall, had a system for placating the candidate and her closest advisors: They’d do just enough to make it look like they were following orders to a T. In reality, they often ignored directives and acted on their own.
Initiative on the part of your staffers isn’t necessarily a bad thing–but plainly they didn’t have a lot of confidence in Hillary’s ability to make good tactical decisions. You know, the same woman they were working so hard to get elected president. Makes you wonder if they were planning to run the White House the same way if she won.
Clinton’s team asked [Bernie] Sanders during the general election if he would do an ad for their candidate. The senator agreed, but he refused to use the “I’m with her” tagline.
“It’s so phony,” he said.
Clinton’s team ultimately didn’t air the ad because, ironically enough, it felt phony.
And just like that, Crazy Bernie neatly summed up what was wrong with the entire Clinton campaign. After all the focus grouping, polling, and committee-tested logos, and after all the introductions and re-introductions of Hillary 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0, the one thing they couldn’t do was convince America that there was an actual human being behind the image they had seen for the last twenty five years.
Perhaps they should have hired Bernie as a consultant.