April 24, 2017

3 more things from "Shattered."

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm reading "Shattered/Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign." Listening to the audio version on my walk along the lake today...

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... I made a mental note of 3 words — "-splain-," "clutch," and "construction" — so I could find 3 passages in the Kindle version and quote them for you here:

1. 18% of the way into the book, we encounter the delightful word "campaign-splained": "[I]n early September 2015... the New York Times had just published a story about a coming Clinton campaign strategy shift. Hillary would 'show more humor and heart,' the headline declared.... Clinton supporters across the country read it [as] a pure what-the-fuck moment... [Susie Tompkins Buell, a big donor] scolded [Clinton campaign manager Robby] Mook...  The campaign’s inability to reveal Hillary’s authenticity— and its ham-fisted effort to manufacture a false version of it — was infuriating.... Trying to placate Buell, Mook offered up [communications director Jennifer] Palmieri as a sacrifice. The large, domineering communications team was pretty much a separate shop within the operation, he campaign-splained."

2. 29% of the way in, we see this contrast between Bill Clinton and Robby Mook that makes Mook sound modern, even as we know — having watched the Sanders and Trump campaigns — it is probably even more passé than what Bill wanted to do: "[Bill] liked to go to small towns in northern New Hampshire, Appalachia, and rural Florida because he believed, from experience, that going to them and acknowledging he knew how they lived their lives, and the way they made decisions, put points on the board. Mook wanted Bill in places where the most Hillary-inclined voters would see him. That meant talking to white liberals and minorities in cities and their close-in suburbs. That was one fault line of a massive generational divide between Bill and Mook that separated old-time political hustling from modern data-driven vote collecting. Bill was like the old manager putting in a pinch hitter he believed would come through in the clutch while the eggheaded general manager in the owner’s box furiously dialed the dugout phone to let him know there was an 82 percent chance that the batter would make an out this time."

3. At 30%: "[T]he one aspect of her campaign that [Hillary Clinton] was most confident about was that none of the tribes" — The Mook Mafia, The State [Department] Crew, The Consultants, and The Communications Shop — "separately or in collaboration, had any idea how to construct a winning message for her. In her view, it was up to the people she paid to find the right message for her — a construction deeply at odds with the way Sanders and Trump built their campaigns around their own gut feelings about where to lead the country."

49 comments:

hawkeyedjb said...

"...it was up to the people she paid to find the right message for her..."

God almighty. You're running for president of the United States, and neither you nor your flunkies know why. I guess you probably can't be honest if the real reason is "so I can have power over other people's lives."

Xmas said...

I should get this book. It sounds a lot like "The Smartest Guys in the Room" book about the fall of Enron.

buwaya said...

This is actually a very good book.
Read it, very worthwhile.

Thanks for excerpting it, you are hitting the important bits very well.

There's a lot left out of it, in the sense of the relationship with the administration and the maneuvering in the DOJ and FBI, etc., but as a campaign/management post-mortem goes, very telling.

It doesn't try to actually explain Hilary Clinton very well, probably because that crew couldn't get close enough to figure her out.

Bay Area Guy said...

Professor (Emeritus) Althouse,

With this latest installment, you have turned the mirth meter well past 11. Well done.

This book is like touching a girl's breast at age 13 -- it brings sheer joy, not just in the moment, but for the next 3 or 4 days too.

Hillary's loss last November tends to re-affirm my shaky belief in a benevolent God, so I will just shut up and enjoy the fact that this harridan has no power over me.

roadgeek said...

"....I should get this book...." Yes, you should. It's extremely compelling reading. She ran a conventional campaign against an unconventional candidate, but her campaign itself was a huge millstone. The book makes very clear that she had no idea why people were so angry about her personal email server.

The two authors are liberal, and they despise Trump; it comes through in their writing. They are, however, very thorough in dissecting the troubles within the campaign.

buwaya said...

"I guess you probably can't be honest if the real reason is "so I can have power over other people's lives."

To be fair, this is the deeper reason why any politician is a politician.
Still, a good politician needs to come up with something to begin lying to himself, first of all. Most of us need to believe we are the hero of our adventure.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"The campaign’s inability to reveal Hillary’s authenticity— and its ham-fisted effort to manufacture a false version of it — was infuriating.... "

You can't manufacture what's not there.

I'll echo the others in this thread by saying what Althouse has posted thus far makes me really want to read this book. The schadenfreude I am getting from just reading the excerpts is delicious.

Matthew Sablan said...

The fun fact? We've been reintroduced to the New Fun Hillary more times than we've had New Coke.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"That was one fault line of a massive generational divide between Bill and Mook that separated old-time political hustling from modern data-driven vote collecting. Bill was like the old manager putting in a pinch hitter he believed would come through in the clutch while the eggheaded general manager in the owner’s box furiously dialed the dugout phone to let him know there was an 82 percent chance that the batter would make an out this time."

To continue the analogy, Mook was sending in the sabermetrics-approved hitter to face a pitcher who threw pitches in a way the batter had never seen before and couldn't adjust to.

buwaya said...

The implicit point of the thing is that Hilary Clinton seems to have been something of a figurehead, a mannequin, not the decision-maker, and hadn't the first idea how to lead. But for some reason this puppet had no strings attached.

Its also interesting that she had no corresponding abilities as a staff officer, being unable even to manage the process effectively even if she didn't know how to direct it. Its the old trope of Scharnhorst and Blucher, skill and diligence plus inspirational leadership, who between them made a pretty good general. Clinton was neither Scharnhorst nor Blucher.

Which I find curious. Someone dropped the ball, assumed she was in charge when she really wasn't.

rehajm said...

Look at me, I'm in tatters
I'm a shattered
Shattered
All this chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter 'bout
Shmatta, shmatta, shmatta

vanderleun said...

"Listening to the audio version on my walk along the lake today..."

Reminds me of a title to a good book of essays on golf: "A Good Walk Spoiled."

exiledonmainstreet said...

Matthew Sablan said...
The fun fact? We've been reintroduced to the New Fun Hillary more times than we've had New Coke"

Remember the idiotic "Scooby van" she was riding around in, getting off it every so often to talk to the peons?

That reminded me of the hilarious visit John Kerry and his entourage made to a Wendy's. His wife didn't know what chili was, Kerry tried to strike a conversation with vets who were clearly unenthusiastic about him, and the whole crew tossed out the fast food for gourmet dining on the campaign bus as soon as the photo ops were over.

The Godfather said...

The first time I remember hearing the word "splain" was from Desi Arnaz on I Love Lucy. He was way ahead of his time was Ricky Ricardo.

Michael K said...

It doesn't try to actually explain Hilary Clinton very well, probably because that crew couldn't get close enough to figure her out.

Gary Aldrich did that years ago in "Unlimited Access"

It was all there. The Travel Office was Chapter 1.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I'm a bit surprised Althouse hasn't complained about the wretched style, rich as it in pet peeves-- especially dead metaphors. There's garnering going on as well. Though the authors occasionally provide a bit of unintended comic relief ("To kindle her own southern firewall...") it mostly makes the book a chore to read despite the interest of the story.

Ralph Hyatt said...

Mook wanted Bill in places where the most Hillary-inclined voters would see him. That meant talking to white liberals and minorities in cities and their close-in suburbs

Seriously? Mook is a moron then. She already had those voters. Spending your time and money going after your own voters seems pretty moronic.

it was up to the people she paid to find the right message for her

Because she just wanted to be the first female president and didn't have any vision. A CEO provides vision, they don't just hire a marketing firm to come up with a message. You need the vision first.

Jesus, can't we get some competent evil overlords?

buwaya said...

" Spending your time and money going after your own voters seems pretty moronic."

Turnout.

Ann Althouse said...

"The first time I remember hearing the word "splain" was from Desi Arnaz on I Love Lucy. He was way ahead of his time was Ricky Ricardo."

Ha ha. That's just what Meade and I were talking about when I told him the 3 words I had in mind.

But it's a running joke a Meadhouse, when Zeus (the dog) sits with his rear legs splayed to say "Zeusy, you've got some 'splainin' to do."

Wilbur said...

Haven't read anything these excerpts AA has provided us, but could it be Mook wanted to give Bill as much of an unimportant role as he could get away with, so that Hill's eventual win would be credited to him and not The Slickster?

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm a bit surprised Althouse hasn't complained about the wretched style, rich as it in pet peeves-- especially dead metaphors. There's garnering going on as well. Though the authors occasionally provide a bit of unintended comic relief ("To kindle her own southern firewall...") it mostly makes the book a chore to read despite the interest of the story."

My first post about the book -- when I was resisting reading it — began "I've been avoiding talking about "Shattered" — the new book about Hillary Clinton's failed campaign — because the excerpts I saw were written in such a pulpy, trashy style." I quoted a passage and said "Yeesh. It's like a bad young-adult book."

So I agree with you.

And I heard "garner" too. Meade was listening with me and we both said "garner!"

Ann Althouse said...

"The two authors are liberal, and they despise Trump; it comes through in their writing."

That's true, and the audiobook reader hams up the contempt for Trump. I like the audiobook reader though. She maintains the pressure about what a screwup the whole Clinton show was, but that means she has to amp into a new zone when anything about Trump comes up.

MadisonMan said...

I have this reserved at the library, but it doesn't seem like the books have come in yet. Because my place isn't changing. I am really looking forward to reading it because I'm so glad Hillary did not win.

MadisonMan said...

The library only has 9 copies! Maybe I should buy my own. I wonder if that Mystery book store on Monroe St has it?

Scott M said...

It takes a village to pay people to find the right message for her.

Quaestor said...

... he campaign-splained.

About two hundred of our common English words first appear in print in the First Folio edition of the works of William Shakespeare. Most of them pre-existed the Bard of Avon; some being obscure yet in use by Londoners in the speech of merchants and tavern-goers — words like lackluster (As You Like It, Act 3 scene 4) and besmirch — that somehow escaped ink and paper preservation. Others were borrowings from French or Italian; words like incarnadine and assassination. And yet there were others that Shakespeare just made up for the occasion — dishearten (Henry V, Act 4 scene 1) and fashionable (Troilus and Cressida, Act 3 scene 3) being examples. Even if he wasn't the finest master of the tongue Shakespeare would be a significant literary figure just on the strength of his invented vocabulary.

Perhaps Messrs Allen and Parnes hope to become significant literary figures themselves by following his example, but campaign-splain as a substitute for bullshit (verb. to deceive by obfucation or distortion) ain't gonna cut it.

Michael K said...

A CEO provides vision, they don't just hire a marketing firm to come up with a message. You need the vision first.

This was also true of GHW Bush. He wanted to be president to cap a career. "The Vision Thing."

Reagan knew why he wanted to be president but he made a huge mistake giving us the Bush dynasty.

Reagan was hated by the donor class and added Bush to pacify them.

traditionalguy said...

You really know how to make a guy feel dumb. I really liked the way the authors did the work. They screwed up their courage and told an inside story as it happened.

Maybe I am impressed because it was such a contrast to the superficial narratives the Clintons used for 30 years to command power over their victims. The book breaks that strangle hold over reality.

As for hating Trump, what else could they do. He only recently morphed from Hitler into an incompetent failure at all things.

who-knew said...

I've read #3 multiple times and I still don't get it. If she was sure that none of her tribes either on their own or working together could come up with a winning message, why would she think the people she was paying would be able to do it? Aren't the tribes a comprehensive list of the people she was paying? If they couldn't do the job, and this says she was sure they couldn't, why didn't she hire other people? Or, here's a wild idea, why didn't she decide why she was running (and therefore what the message should be). What am I missing?

David said...

Reinforces that I was correct about Clinton. Lost. Unimaginative. Insecure. Indecisive. Not stupid, but not quite bright enough either. Not a leader.

"Not Clinton" remains a perfectly good reason to have voted for Trump.

Sebastian said...

"In her view, it was up to the people she paid to find the right message for her." Now they tell us. Of course, many of us here knew it all along. But it is still one of the more striking things said about any candidate in recent memory. In a normal political world, it would be disqualifying.

buwaya said...

"If she was sure that none of her tribes either on their own or working together could come up with a winning message, why would she think the people she was paying would be able to do it?"

Its a distinction between her various coteries of staff in all these roles (at State, etc.) and the specialist communication consultants. These guys were professionals hired for the purpose of finding a purpose.

urbane legend said...

The campaign’s inability to reveal Hillary’s authenticity— . . .

I thought that was exactly what the campaign did, and everyday people don't like or trust the authentic Hillary.

dreams said...

"Reagan was hated by the donor class and added Bush to pacify them."

Yeah, and that was after Bush had already called Reagan's economic plan which was supply side economics, voodoo economics.

St. George said...

In her view, it was up to the people she paid to find the right message for her ...

In George Washington's view, it was up to the people who wanted him to be general to find the right army for him

In Abe Lincoln's view, it was up to the people he paid to find the right message for him

Unbelievable.

She sounds like McDonalds.

Bob said...

"[Bill] liked to go to small towns in northern New Hampshire, Appalachia, and rural Florida..."

This illustrates so much the value of the US Constitutional system. The Constitution enshrined democratic processes but ensured political minorities would be protected from the "tyranny of the majority". Bill Clinton seems to understand the political implications of this, the need to pay attention to all potential voters, not just the members of your putative "tribe".

For all the historical baggage of the slave compromise, the Constitution really provides for a more inclusive system than the "inclusiveness" identity politics of today's left.

Bob said...

"These guys were professionals hired for the purpose of finding a purpose."

That's a nice line. Hillary apparently had no idea why she wanted to be president other than that she wanted to be president.

George Will once observed that one difference between Reagan and Bill Clinton was that Reagan wanted to be president to do something whereas Clinton mostly wanted to be something. But Bill was a good enough politician to close the deal with voters. Hillary never found a way to make the sale.

Steven said...

We know who the authentic Hillary is. The authentic Hillary is the woman who would still rather be called "Hillary Diane Rodham" (to the point of using those initials for her personal email address) decades after changing her name to help her husband return to office.

Showing that authentic Hillary, of course, would fundamentally undercut Hillary-the-candidate, a person who would have never been a Senator, Secretary of State, or seriously-considered Presidential candidate except for being married to a notorious womanizer. Thus the spectacle of trying to create an "authentic" Hillary not true to the actual Hillary, but true enough that her every appearance wouldn't undercut it.

After all, she could hardly openly run on a platform of, "I sold all my self-respect for power, now it's time for me to have the power I paid for," however much that was the actual thesis of her campaign, and how obvious it was to observers.

Michael K said...

After all, she could hardly openly run on a platform of, "I sold all my self-respect for power, now it's time for me to have the power I paid for," however much that was the actual thesis of her campaign, and how obvious it was to observers.

Yes. It's hard to explain why you became a whore and now want to be respectable.

The Everleigh sisters got rich being whores and running a famous brothel but, aside from concocting a story that made them seem more legit, they never tried to join high society.

hawkeyedjb said...

The Real Hillary: a third-rate, dishonest, shrill, evasive, power-hungry, mediocre do-nothing backbencher. Even the Top Men couldn't come up with a plan to get her over the hump against a first-time amateur politician. At some point you have to realize you have a product that can't be sold, and marketing isn't the problem.

Roughcoat said...

Re "splain":

The Kingfish said it, often, on the old (1950s) "Amos 'n Andy" TV show: "Oooooh, nobody ever SPLAINED it to me dat way before!"

That was a very funny show. The misadventures of the Kingfish and his dimwitted but lovable derby-wearing sidekick, Andy Brown; Amos, the wise cab driver and narrator; and Kingfish's wife, Sapphire. "Holy mackerel, Sapphire!"

Henry said...

Given the inapt baseball metaphor, I'll quote Michael Lewis quoting Billy Bean: "My shit doesn't work in the playoffs."

But to back up, the inapt metaphor completely mistates the point. The authors want to play off the generational difference between Mook and Bill and so place them in the wrong roles. Bill was the open-minded thinker willing to use whatever strategy works best, while Mook was the beancounter worried about attendance.

who-knew said...

Buwaya, belated thanks for answering my question. You cleared up the confusion on my part. It's telling that, even with paid help, Hilary's confusion was intractable.

Stephen said...

The photo.

Why must some people despoil natural scenery with their public erections?
Not clever.
And far more unsightly than a man wearing cargo shorts.

Ctmom4 said...

I keep hearing how lefties think Trump is crazy, disorganized, erratic, maybe senile. How, reading all this stuff, can people not draw the same conclusions about Hillary? When I saw that "how am I not 50 points ahead, you may ask" as, I thought she looked unhinged. Nothing since has changed my mind.

Mike said...

Perhaps Messrs Allen and Parnes hope to become significant literary figures themselves...

Man Quaestor, for some reason this made me laugh out loud.

The few excerpts I've seen are such painfully tortured prose, suffused with trite turns on modern lib-speak (splain etc.) that made me, when I tried to imagine an editor rewriting this mess in an adult literary voice, instead see a woman so exasperated in this Sisyphian task that she slung herself from the 30th floor of the Hachette offices.

Mike said...

"I have an idea for the campaign theme."

"Lay it out."

"We just kind of follow her around with a camera watching people adore her."

"What's the theme?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing?"

"It's a campaign about 'nothing!' A perfect reflection of our times."

"A campaign about nothing?"

"Yes. And it gives the evil Republicans nothing to latch onto and criticize."

"A campaign about nothing."

"Exactly."

"Hmmm. It might just work. What's the logo?"

"Next to nothing. Just a capital H with a blue arrow."

"Pointing to...?"

"Nothing!"

"Nothing..."

"OK wake her up."

CJ said...

Michael K mentioned the Gary Aldrich book Unlimited Access, which actually came out before the Monica Lewinsky brouhaha. Yes, it was both accurate and representative, wasn't it?

Rance Fasoldt said...

I downloaded the audio version, and am finding it very informative. I am less attuned to the writing style, since irregularities in the spoken word are forgiven, or overlooked, more often than in the written. Plus, the fact that the authors are in Hillary's camp make their assessments much more damning. Good grief, we dodged a bullet last November.