New Book Chronicles the Disastrous Hillary Clinton Campaign
A new book from Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes gives readers an inside look at Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the disastrous decisions that led to one of the most stunning election upsets in American history. According to the authors of Shattered, Clinton’s loss in November was less the story of a shocking, last-minute surge for Trump and more the story of a campaign that was a chaotic mess from the primaries right through to Election Day.
As the New York Times put it in their review:
The portrait of the Clinton campaign that emerges from these pages is that of a Titanic-like disaster: an epic fail made up of a series of perverse and often avoidable missteps by an out-of-touch candidate and her strife-ridden staff that turned “a winnable race” into “another iceberg-seeking campaign ship.”
It’s the story of a wildly dysfunctional and “spirit-crushing” campaign that embraced a flawed strategy (based on flawed data) and that failed, repeatedly, to correct course. A passive-aggressive campaign that neglected to act on warning flares sent up by Democratic operatives on the ground in crucial swing states, and that ignored the advice of the candidate’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, and other Democratic Party elders, who argued that the campaign needed to work harder to persuade undecided and ambivalent voters (like working-class whites and millennials), instead of focusing so insistently on turning out core supporters.
The authors don’t dismiss the outside forces that contributed to Clinton’s failure, including the late decision by the FBI to reopen and then close the case surrounding her email server and the populist revolution that led to Brexit across the pond. But they say that Hillary’s fate might have been sealed by mistakes the candidate made before the campaign ever got going.
Setting up the private server, blurring the lines between her government career and her charitable foundation, and giving secret speeches to Wall Street crowds were all errors that Hillary could have easily avoided, the authors contend. These mistakes, they write, “hamstrung her own chances so badly that she couldn’t recover.”
But if she did have any chance of recovery, she blew it with a mismanaged, arrogant campaign that ignored the lessons of the primaries.
“[Clinton campaign chief Robby] Mook had made the near-fatal mistakes of underestimating [Bernie] Sanders and investing almost nothing early in the back end of the primary calendar,” the authors write. They argue that if the campaign had realized the gravity of Hillary’s upset loss to Sanders in Michigan, they might not have lost the “blue wall” of the Rust Belt to Trump in November.
Because her ego can’t handle the idea that she bears the bulk of the blame, Hillary Clinton is still clinging to a thousand and one external scapegoats: Russia, sexism, Comey, Bernie, the media, and so on down the line. She has refused to take responsibility for her own mistakes since the early 1990s, and her presidency would have been more of the same.
Shattered may or may not explain why Hillary lost, but it does a great job explaining why we’re lucky that she did.