“We live not for today, but for the ages yet to come, and the children yet unborn.” — Mary Harris (Mother) Jones

Archive for October, 2019

Book Review: Shattered by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes

Shattered book coverReviewing a book about the Hillary Clinton Campaign only a few months before the primaries to select the candidate for the 2020 Presidential campaign begin might seem to qualify for the Day Late Dollar Short Award. However, in the run-up to those primaries the Democrat Party establishment is repeating many of the same talking points they used against Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 event. Perhaps more important, the Party seems determined to repeat the mistakes it made then. That makes this book quite timely as a reference.

Both the authors make no pretense they didn’t prefer Ms. Clinton over Sen. Sanders, and they work for Politico and The Hill, neither of which is particularly friendly to progressive ideas. However, they are able to get past it for the most part and report the facts instead of justifying or glossing them over. That said, they still can’t refrain from using the kind of violent terms the Clinton campaign applied to the Sanders campaign, words like “rage” and “attack” that in no way describe the way he talked about and to his opposition. Instead, he’s portrayed as a disruptive wannabe unqualified to challenge someone with Clinton’s credentials, which tends to get irritating to anyone who actually paid attention.

What they reveal, perhaps without meaning to, is the simple fact that Clinton, whether because ambition replaced her common sense or simply because of a high level of self-entitlement, comes across as a woman both uncomfortable outside her personal circle of selected friends and arrogantly dismissive of opinions that countered her own.

That her campaign staff acted like eager courtiers willing to do anything to win a moment of their monarch’s attention likely wasn’t helpful when it came to dealing with a hardcore experienced showman like Donald Trump. It’s no wonder people who voted for Obama flipped to vote for The Donald—they’re hypersensitive to precisely the kind of superior attitude Hillary Clinton exuded, and they rejected it.

One of the biggest points of contention during the primaries was Ms. Clinton’s refusal to publish the texts of her well-paid speeches to various Wall Street corporations, speeches her team apparently begged her not to make. According to the authors, she considered them irrelevant. That was her attitude toward her party’s traditional voter base, blue-collar working people, as well. It’s telling that even when, at the end, her husband warned her she was making a mistake to ignore them, she couldn’t bring herself to hobnob with the hoi polloi. She sent Bernie instead.

Ironically, in their efforts to present their subject, the authors seem equally unaware how ruthless and arrogant she comes to appear, qualities they try to convince us are strength and determination. What is also clear is that Ms. Clinton was extremely uncomfortable with large crowds of the sort her primary opponent drew, usually limiting her “rallies” to carefully limited gatherings. That was one of the reasons offered as to why she became convinced she could win by relying on data instead of politicking.

Now, going on four years later, it appears the Democrats are prepared to implement the same strategy they used in 2016, albeit making a broader effort at a pretense of progressivism. It’s as if they convinced themselves Sanders voters were simply enthusiasts who would lose interest in the changes Sanders proposed once the reality of a Trump administration set in. It’s precisely the same kind of mistake they made before, if the story in Shattered is a reflection of the truth.