Throwing Deck Chairs at Each Other on the Titanic

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Michelle Cottle’s oral history of the Last Days of Disco:

“Devastating vulnerabilities such as Obama’s associations with Wright and Ayers were not unearthed by the campaign’s vaunted research team in time to be fully taken advantage of–despite being readily available in the public domain.”

“Harold Ickes’s encyclopedic understanding of the proportional delegate system was never operationalized into a field plan.”

“Hillary assembled a team thin on presidential campaign experience that confused discipline with insularity; they didn’t know what they didn’t know and were too arrogant to ask at a time early enough in the process when it could have made a difference, effectively shutting out even some long-time Hillaryland loyalists.”

“We would just cringe. Ugh. Such an out-of-touch corporate run kind of campaign–exactly what you’d expect from Mark Penn. He did fine during his time in the Clinton White House. But running a campaign to capture the nomination in a change environment is something he had never done. Just look at what he did for Joe Lieberman!”

“[Bill's] behavior that started off in Iowa, carried on in New Hampshire, and culminated in South Carolina really was the beginning of the end. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he just kind of imploded. I think, if I had to look back on it, it became more about him than about her. It really was destructive overall.”

“There was financial mismanagement bordering on fraud. A candidate who raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars over the years had to pump in millions more of her own money to stave off bankruptcy.”

“Her dense and wonky speaking style was compounded by her speechwriting team’s reporting to Policy Director Tanden rather than Communications Director Wolfson.”

“Even among Clinton spokespeople long known for their heavy-handed ways, Phil Singer stood out for his all-too-common and accepted profanity-laced tirades and abusive behavior–both at colleagues and the media, who were all too happy to direct his comeuppance toward Hillary at a time she needed them most.”

It’s a fun read, though ultimately an unsatisfying one. It lacks a final chapter, if nothing else. And I am always amused at analyses of losing campaigns that willfully ignore the fact that, you know, voters may have just preferred the other candidate. Looking at this long and varied list of mistakes — none of which strike me as totally off base — it’s easy to forget that she still did really, really well. Something about the candidate and what she stands/stood for resonated with millions of people, despite Penn/Solis Doyle/Bill/whatever. (And as for Phil Singer’s profanity and abuse, well, yeah, no on else on any other campaign — or in politics — does that…) Imagine if her campaign hadn’t sucked… well, she still might have lost. I know this is a difficult concept for the Clintons.

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