If the Democratic Party truly hopes to dethrone our current president, they’ll need to stop blaming Russia, quit it with the Hillary Clinton fantasy fan fiction, and start figuring out what exactly went wrong. A forthcoming book from Game Change authors John Heilemann and Mark Halperin should offer some perspective, as should Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes‘ Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign.
Shattered was released just last week; this breakdown of it from The Outline posits the book as a savage, revealing must-read. Chief among the Clinton campaign’s many problems, it seems, was its lack of a coherent message. “Only Clinton could have known for sure why she wanted to be president, but she chose to let others decide for her,” says writer Alex Nichols. “As one anonymous aide told Allen and Parnes, Clinton simply didn’t have a reason for running besides continuing the establishment politics of her predecessor.”
It seems the campaign’s problems weren’t simply ideological. As much fun as the left made of the Trump campaign’s rotating squad of dum-dums, it seems the Clinton crew was equally sloppy behind closed doors.
The book portrays Clinton as a temperamental and often absent boss, obsessed with leaks, infighting, and backstabbing among her employees. Hillary thought “almost everything her own campaign had done [in 2008] was flawed and almost everything Obama’s had done was pristine,” and so this time around, she read through all her staffers’ emails to determine their relative loyalty. This move was devious but not exactly shrewd; the latter campaign contained just as much inner turmoil. Shattered is punctuated with frequent outbursts of shouted dialogue, especially coming from Bill Clinton. Bill yelled at campaign chairman John Podesta “loud enough to be heard through the walls,” he grew “repetitive and forceful” with campaign manager Robby Mook, and he yelled at the entire staff on several occasions. Hillary was more passive-aggressive—at one point during debate preparation she responded to constructive criticism from strategist Jake Sullivan with a demand that the two switch places. As Sullivan played her role, Hillary savaged his performance. “She was visibly, unflinchingly pissed off at us as a group,” an aide recalled.
According to the piece, Bill Clinton also gave the staff an “ass-chewing” when they didn’t opt to bury Hillary’s email scandal. He was, however, the only one who foresaw a “right-wing populist uprising behind Brexit,” a prediction the Clinton campaign, like most of the country, chose to overlook.
Will tales such as these embolden and refine the Democratic Party in advance of 2020? Will they throw their hands up in the air and succumb to a Chelsea Clinton campaign? Is Kanye still in the picture? Regardless, this look at what went wrong is an important part in figuring out how to proceed.