Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Shattered - what it tells us and what it doesn't

The recent book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign is an interesting insider's account of Hillary's campaign and why it failed. The authors said that they had been getting information from the campaign staff all through the campaign on condition that is not be published until after the election. I suspect that the authors intended it to chronicle Hillary's winning campaign and how she surmounted numerous internal issues and external events.

The authors are Democrat insiders. They have detailed accounts of Bernie Sanders's entrance into the campaign but very little insight into Trump of his campaign. The biggest insights come from the debate preparation when they admitted that Hillary's trump-proxy was a better candidate than Hillary.

There are some omissions and false impressions. The book waits until the final chapter to mention that Trump was the candidate that Hillary wanted to run against. Early polling showed that she had the best chance against him and her hope was that he would pull the entire Republican slate down with him, giving Democrats total control of Congress and the White House. This was reduced to a single sentence.

Hillary's Basket of Deplorables speech was covered but around the same time she recorded a video asking "Why aren't I 50 points ahead?" That got a lot of play and contitributed to her early-September slump but was skipped.

At one point Trump jokingly called on Russia to release the 35,000 emails that Hillary had deleted. This was meant as a dig at the private server and the assumption that it had already been hacked. Trump was not calling on the Russians to hack into the server. The Clinton campaign spun it as Trump calling on the Russians to hack into the server which was already in FBI custody and off-line. Shattered repeats the charge without pointing out how silly that spin was.

After the second debate the Clinton campaign circulated a picture of Trump "looming disapprovingly behind Hillary," Shattered mentioned that Hillary rehearsed for the debate on a set that was lent to her by Obama but failed to mention that she actually made a point of walking past him to the other side of the stage so that she was between Trump and a photographer.

Shattered goes light on some of the damaging details leaked such as the Clinton campaign getting questions in advance. At the same time it over-emphasizes the effect of the Podesta emails. This probably reflected the view inside the Clinton campaign. Wikileaks did a daily dump of emails for the month before the election. That meant that the Clinton campaign had to check hundreds or thousands of emails daily and evaluate if any were damaging. As it turned out, there was very little of significance in the emails and it's unlikely that they had any measurable effect on the polls. Regardless, Hillary is still talking about them, using the same language that Shattered uses.

Despite these short-comings, Shattered is a good look at all of the back-scenes drama that was kept hidden. It is also comforting for anyone who is unsure about Trump being elected. Given the problems that Hillary had just keeping her campaign together, her presidency would have been a disaster.

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