Saturday, April 29, 2017

Book Review - Shattered

This really isn't a traditional book review. "Shattered" is a book about the last presidential campaign from Hillary's advisors' perspective. I bought it on Amazon and read it and it was just an amazing view into the mechanics of that doomed campaign. Highly recommended.

First of all, I want to commend her camp for getting the basics so right. They reviewed the 2008 campaign which failed for her and took all the tactics of the winning side. They consisted of:
1. Focusing solely on the super delegates. Apparently this is much more technical than you'd expect and if you don't carefully understand each state and district and how everything works you may win a lot of votes but receive few delegates
2. Play the long game and ignore distractions. When Bernie blew her out of a lot of states they just waited to get back to states with large minority populations so she could cover over those losses. This generally ignores the fact that Bernie was competitive in states which were critical to the electoral college and "in play" which made a difference in the general election but not in the primary election
3. No one was going to change their mind about her. Their campaign strategist, a guy named Robby Mooks, didn't spend any money on "persuasion" because those that hated her weren't changing their mind and the more she was in the news tied to the email scandal or her health or the DNC leaks the worse it got. At one point they said they were considering not putting more money into a state (Michigan) right up before the election because they believed that they were just inflaming the other sides' base
4. No matter what happened, she soldiered on. She was unflappable.

After the 2008 campaign, she made a list of all those that abandoned her and if you rated a "7" as the highest traitor, she and her allies worked to bring the Dems down in the primaries. This was noted by everyone and as a result she had few folks who would tell her the unvarnished truth on the campaign trail because you'd be viewed as disloyal and immediately sent packing (and likely your prospects in the party would be destroyed).

It was also very interesting to me that she didn't write her own speeches or even have much of a hand in them - a complex and changing committee of individuals were continually making edits and major changes right up to the last minute, and she would scold them for their failures and berate them on a speakerphone. She seemed to be a spectral and distant figure to almost all of her campaign staff and leaders, with a couple exceptions. She also told them next to nothing, so her illness on the campaign trail was as big a surprise to them as it was to the nation.

The choice of her VP candidate Tim Kaine, whom the dems said was "as dull as a month old razor", seemed to me to be a dunderhead move. But I guess he was the runner up as a VP candidate in 2008, as well, showing how thin their "bench" was for this sort of choice. Ever political, the campaign thought that they would win and some of the VP candidates came from states where the governor could appoint a republican into the senate seat, and this would make it harder for her to govern post victory.

She was also very distant from the press and from the general public. She was surprised when she went to a VFW event that plainly, those people couldn't stand her. She thought it was because she was a woman, and said this, which probably made it even worse. There was never a point in the book at all where she felt any actual responsibility for the choices that she made which made her campaign stumble, like the Wall Street speeches and the email server and everything else like the foundation along those lines.

At the end when there was a swirl about whether or not she would concede, there was a note that if her team had realized how close it was going to be in key states (within 1% of the vote), they never would have conceded. Apparently Obama called her and pressured her to concede, not wanting his term to end in confusion and chaos.

This book is highly recommended and I was riveted. I probably will read it again, cover to cover.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

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