The Trump White House may or may not be a scene of chaos and personnel conflict and Trump may yet turn out to be a poor president—certainly the media has an interest in exaggerating any difficulties there may be—but one thing is certain from the release of the new book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign: Trump has spared us a much worse fate in the form of President Hillary Clinton.
I had a hunch on election night, when John Podesta rather than Hillary herself came out to send home the disappointed crowd at the Javits Center in New York, that Camp Hillary was preparing to contest the close results in one or more states (and secondarily that Hillary was in no condition to face the public, having failed to prepare a concession speech, not to mention whatever other incapacities might have befallen her as the roof fell in). Hence one of the most interesting early details to emerge from the book is that President Obama called Hillary and told her to concede. As the Washington Post reports today:
Shortly after 11:00 p.m., after Wisconsin was called by Fox News, Allen and Parnes report that the campaign fielded a series of calls from the White House pushing Hillary Clinton to concede, even though the margins in many states were extraordinarily close. President Barack Obama thought it was over and did not want a messy recount.
First came a call from White House political director David Simas to Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook. “POTUS doesn’t think it’s wise to drag this out,” Simas said.
But Clinton was dragging it out. So then she got a call from POTUS. “You need to concede,” urged Obama, who repeated the message in a follow-up call to Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.
I am sure Obama always remained ambivalent about Hillary Clinton from their 2008 contest, as he was very critical of Bill Clinton’s “triangulation” in The Audacity of Hope. Then, too, we know that Hillary’s 2008 campaign was an organizational disaster from start to finish, reflecting her own disorderly mind, arrogant manner, and presumptuous character. It appears she learned nothing from that experience as the campaign approached.
The New York Times review of the book today summarizes it thus:
In fact, 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.”
Despite years of post-mortems, the authors observe, Clinton’s management style hadn’t really changed since her 2008 loss of the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama: Her team’s convoluted power structure “encouraged the denizens of Hillaryland to care more about their standing with her, or their future job opportunities, than getting her elected.”
In chronicling these missteps, Shattered creates a picture of a shockingly inept campaign hobbled by hubris and unforced errors, and haunted by a sense of self-pity and doom. . .
Imagine the self-pity and doom the nation would have had if she had won, given that her administration would have been just as out of touch and incompetent as her campaign.
But cheer up. I see Chelsea Clinton is on the cover of Variety. So we have that to look forward to. We’ll never be rid of these people.