Review of Clinton Campaign Book, Part III, Odds and Ends
[guest post by JVW]
I wanted to finish up my three-part review of Shattered by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, the book that chronicled the collapse of the campaign of the Past, Present, and Future Inevitable Next President of the United States, First Lady/Senator/Secretary Hillary! Rodham Clinton, Her Royal Clintonic Majesty. The book has been sitting on my table for a month now, and I plan to send it off to my dad as a Father’s Day present. Part I of my review is located here and Part II can be found here. In those two parts I recounted many of the personalities involved in the campaign, as well as the inside info the authors provide on some of the pivotal moments in the run-up to the 2016 elections. What is left to report are some interesting anecdotes that did not make it into the first two parts, so here they are:
1) The authors mention that the campaign’s chief strategist, Joel Benenson, had a $1 million win bonus written in to his contract. Presumably this is standard operating procedure in Washington and the other campaign flacks had similar bonus structures. This makes me even happier to see them lose.
2) I mentioned in Part I of the review that the First Creep, Bill Clinton, found himself continually flummoxed that what he and Clintonland always believed had been a successful eight year reign in the White House had somehow turned into a liability. On the primary campaign stump for his wife in South Carolina, Bubba got into it with a Black Lives Matters member who told him that his crime bill had been racist. Bubba left that encounter believing that he had deftly parried the attack and exposed the crybully as being shortsighted and obtuse, only to have the campaign team “[light] into him” and tell him that he’s pushing young blacks to the arms of Bernie Sanders.
3) Allegedly, Hillary hates Chris Van Hollen, a member of the House Democrat leadership team, who at the time was running for a Senate seat in Maryland. Van Hollen had been one of the first Democrats to jump off her bandwagon in 2008 in order to catch the Obama Express. At one point the authors quote Hillary as blurting out, “Who gives a fuck about Chris Van Hollen?” The White House and the Maryland Democrat Party try to grease the skids for Van Hollen to defeat his female African-American opponent in the primary race by not doing the traditional get-out-the-vote campaign in the black community. Hillary’s team cried foul, and after tense negotiations a bare modicum of the get-out-the-vote campaign was put in place, though Van Hollen won pretty handily anyway.
4) I mentioned in the past two posts that the authors are certainly politically-sympathetic to Hillary and the Democrats. It often allows them to overlook some ideas that might be obvious to the rest of us. For instance, the never once mention the scandal uncovered by the email leaks that Donna Brazile was feeding debate questions in advance to the Clinton campaign, yet they praise Hillary for delivering fully-conceived and detailed responses to debate questions. Later the authors tell us that “a question [debate prep head Ron] Klain asked behind closed doors about a possible no-fly zone over Syria was repeated almost verbatim by moderator Chris Wallace in the third [Presidential] debate,” yet the authors don’t stop to wonder if perhaps the Hillary campaign was still being fed questions.
5) A very telling anecdote here: Hillary in her acceptance speech at the convention wanted to put in a quote from the popular Broadway hit Hamilton, a musical that coastal progressive elites shell out $1000 to see. Hillary naturally had already seen it twice. Some alert staffers wondered if the reference will go over the heads of the vast majority of the public who are not able to jump on a plane and spend an expensive weekend in Manhattan purchasing scalped tickets to see that show, but Hillary overruled them and the reference stayed in. It serves as a great metaphor of what is wrong with today’s Democrat Party.
6) Ah, Chelsea. This is just perfect. The authors speak of a gathering of the Clinton brain trust with Chelsea and her husband in attendance. Without a trace of irony, they report the following: “As Chelsea nursed her infant son, Aidan, and asked her daughter , Charlotte, if she wanted auga — Clinton and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, were raising their kids to be bilingual. . .” Can’t you just see Chelsea speaking a handful of Spanglish phrases to her daughter — “Do you want some agua?” “Come on honey, vamos.” — and pretending that they are raising her to be bilingual? But hey, maybe Elena, the Dominican nanny that they no doubt employ and pay under the table just like the other rich progressive parents in Manhattan, is carrying the load in young Charlotte’s linguistic upbringing.
7) Having suffered through financial problems in her 2008 campaign, Hillary was obsessed with fundraising. Immediately after the convention, at a time when she should have been out trying to connect with voters in Middle America, she instead embarked upon a series of fundraisers in Manhattan, Washington, Palm Beach, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley. At that point she had about 800 staffers on her payroll, as opposed to her opponent’s 130, and she really freaked out when the Republican nominee raised $80 million in July.
8) The relationship between Robby Mook and John Podesta never healed. They engaged in a nasty pissing match in front of the rest of the campaign staff at a retreat in upstate New York in June, and thereafter both men fought to freeze each other out of key decisions. That’s a preview of the kind of dysfunction that Hillary likely would have brought to her White House staff.
9) Regarding the “deplorable” remark, it was made at one of the first Hillary campaign events open to the media, and the authors claim that Hillary didn’t realize that the media was there. She was used to those types of events being closed, which makes you wonder what other sorts of things she said behind closed doors.
10) Be glad you are not this guy: “The most spirit-crushing job in modern political history — managing the Podesta email portfolio — fell on the shoulders of Glen Caplin. Every morning, for the full month before the election, 44-year-old former spokesman for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, would put on his hipster-style black-framed glasses, roll out of bed, and come into the Brooklyn office knowing that he and his team of as many as a dozen staffers would spend the day reading hundreds or thousands of Podesta’s emails.” The part about the hipster-style glasses is perfect.
11) Huma Abedin “was such a powerful force within Clintonworld that few of her colleagues dared to cross her. But some of them had always viewed her as a major vulnerability — even a ‘national security threat’ because of her potential to prevent Hillary from winning the Presidency. [. . . ] Regardless of her level of culpability — and her defenders say she’s unfairly targeted because she’s so close to Hillary — Huma was a disaster waiting to happen.” She botches the Hillary collapse at the 9/11 memorial service because (allegedly) Hillary had been given the (alleged) pneumonia diagnosis a couple of days earlier but Huma had failed to alert anyone in the campaign and that’s why several hours went by without the campaign being able to explain Hillary’s collapse.
12) Despite what the media was confidently reporting, both campaigns knew in late October that the race was tightening. The authors report on a GOP operative “with ties to the campaign” saying on October 26: “If he keeps his fucking mouth shut for the next twelve days, there are a couple of states that are going to surprise you.” The Republican nominee’s campaign was tracking a surge in Michigan and Pennsylvania, but didn’t announce them because they didn’t trust their own data and thought the numbers might be overly optimistic. At the same time, HRC campaign knew those states (and North Carolina and Florida) were getting shaky.
13) Much has been written about Hillary’s decision to forego visiting Wisconsin (Mook wouldn’t even send campaign collateral to the local offices there), but she actually wanted to campaign heavily in Michigan in the waning days, but the Michigan staff bluntly informed her that her numbers improve in the state when the election is not on people’s radar. Besides, the campaign had already grandiosely announced that they would be targeting Arizona, and to have suddenly changed plans would have alerted the suck-up media to the idea that maybe her position wasn’t as strong as they had been led to believe.
14) For all the claims that James Comey’s “October surprise” announcement lost the election for Hillary, the authors remind us that it was a fund-raising boon for her as angry liberals sent in donations to combat what they saw has outside interference.
It’s been fun reliving this campaign, and I am hoping that we learn even more in the months and years to come. We cannot be rid of the corrupt, nasty, awful, brutish Clinton Empire soon enough. Good riddance to those people and all the empty works and all of their hollow promises.
[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]