The myth of Hillary Clinton’s competence

One of Hillary Clinton’s campaign themes was her alleged competence, based on years of public service, which she tried to contrast with Donald Trump’s amateurism. Yet, Clinton, through her campaign once again demonstrated that she is not competent. That she was outperformed by an “amateur” undermines her “competence” theme all the more.

Hillary lost to Barack Obama in 2008, it has been credibly argued, because Obama focused on state caucuses in out-of-the way places that Team Clinton largely ignored. The delegates Obama obtained from these caucuses gave him an edge that Hillary, even though she closed well in big state primaries, couldn’t overcome.

Obama made the rules work for him; Clinton was flummoxed by them.

Hillary’s time at the State Department produced the failed “reset” with Russia, chaos in Libya, and a self-inflicted email scandal she couldn’t shake. More evidence, along with her health reform botch during Bill Clinton’s first term, of her incompetence.

Now, consider her 2016 campaign. Describing what he calls “Hillary’s staggering incompetence,” Michael Barone writes:

In an excellent Washington Post article, Jim Tankersley points out that in the closing weeks of the campaign, the Clinton campaign put more ads on the air in the Omaha market (aiming, presumably, at the 1 electoral vote of Nebraska 2, since Iowa’s 6 votes were clearly already lost) than in Michigan and Wisconsin combined (26 electoral votes).

By one metric, during one period Republicans ran 405 ads in Michigan and 2,319 in Wisconsin while Democrats ran only 31 in Michigan and 255 in Michigan. This, despite the fact that the Clinton campaign had lots more money than the Trump campaign.

This wasn’t the only example of campaign malpractice. The Clinton campaign spent time and money on winning Arizona and Georgia, and while it performed better there than Obama had, it was not by enough to carry their 11 and 16 electoral votes, respectively. At the same time, Clinton didn’t set foot in Wisconsin (10 electoral votes) after its April 5 primary. In effect, Clinton was aiming for her 340th electoral vote and ignored the need to campaign for her 270th, which is the one that counts.

Moreover, when the Clinton campaign went after votes in key industrial states, it did so in foolish ways:

The 70-year-old Bill Clinton apparently repeatedly advised Clinton campaign chairman Robby Mook and others to campaign in white working class areas. The 36-year-old Mook spurned — perhaps ridiculed — his advice. . . .

So you [had] the Clinton campaign dispatching “West Wing actors” to Ohio and capping their Pennsylvania campaign with a Saturday night concert in Philadelphia featuring Lady Gaga and Beyonce. . .How many undecided voters or low-propensity-voting Democrats in Pennsylvania even know who Lady Gaga is? How many are impressed that actors in “The West Wing”, whose last new episode aired in 2006, support Hillary Clinton?

I get it that entertainers can draw large audiences, and I get it that Hillary Clinton (to judge from photos) loved these event. But how did they actually help her campaign?

Clearly, they helped it little, if at all.

If there was an amateur in the 2016, it would seem to have been the 36-year-old Mook. But it was Hillary Clinton who put him in charge.

We don’t know whether Donald Trump will be a competent president. We can be pretty sure Hillary Clinton would not have been.

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