Explaining Clinton’s defeat

2017-06-25

in History, Politics

From Hillary’s perspective, external forces created a perfect storm that wiped her out. In this telling, laid out in scores of interviews with Clinton campaign aides and advisors for this book, the media bought into an absurd and partisan Republican-led investigation into her e-mail server that combined with Bernie Sanders’s attack on her character and a conservative assault on the Clinton Foundation’s practices to sow a public perception that she was fundamentally dishonest. From there, Comey’s unprecedented public condemnation of her handling of the server, the Russian cyberattacks on the DNC and Podesta’s e-mail account, and new voter ID laws suppressed support for her. In a twist, Clintonworld sources said, Comey’s final exoneration of her enraged Trump backers and pushed them to the polls in droves. Along the way, they said, misogyny played a quiet role in turning men against her without an offsetting boost in support from women. Her most ardent defenders maintain that she nailed every major moment of the campaign. “Those debates were her. The Benghazi hearing. Her convention speech. Her getting off the mat in New Hampshire,” said one senior campaign aide. “She does not give up.”

But another view, articulated by a much smaller number of her close friends and high-level advisors, holds that Clinton bears the blame for her defeat. This case rests on the theory that Hillary’s actions before the campaign—setting up the private server, putting her name on the Clinton Foundation, and giving speeches to Wall Street banks in a time of rising populism—hamstrung her own chances so badly she couldn’t recover. She was unable to prove to many voters that she was running for the presidency because she had a vision for the country rather than visions of power. And she couldn’t cast herself as anything but a lifelong insider when so much of the country had lost faith in its institutions and yearned for a fresh approach to governance. All of it fed a narrative of dynastic privilege that was woefully out of touch with the sentiment of the American electorate.

“We lost because of Clinton Inc.,” one close friend and advisor lamented. “The reality is Clinton Inc. was great for her for years and she had all the institutional benefits. But it was an albatross around the campaign.”

Allen, Jonathan and Amie Parnes. Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign. Crown; New York. 2017. p. 398–9

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

. July 17, 2017 at 1:50 am
. July 22, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Hillary Clinton is more unpopular than Donald Trump. Let that sink in

According to the latest Bloomberg National Poll, Trump has a net favorability of 41% whereas Clinton has a net favorability of 39%. If Democrats are to escape the political wilderness, they will have to leave Clinton and her brand of politics in the woods.

Democrats have become a tale of two wings. If the Clintonite establishment wing comes across as hopelessly uninspiring, the Berniecrat progressive wing has appeared energetic and full of ideas. Consider the #PeoplesPlatform sponsored this week by Sanders’ Our Revolution alongside other organizations, such as Democratic Socialists of America, Women’s March and Fight for 15. This platform – which Americans can sign a petition for – urges Democrats in Congress to support bills, such as Medicare for All, Free College Tuition, Voting Rights and Criminal Justice and Immigrant Rights.

Certainly, Democrats might not win all of these progressive measures in Congress. But fighting for these measures would not only shift the political terrain, it would attract Americans desperately looking for a positive alternative to the Republicans.

Clinton did not provide a true alternative to the status quo. Democrats should look elsewhere for a blueprint forward and leave her politics far behind. Remaining attached to her would be political madness. The majority of Americans know it.

. September 5, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Salman Rushdie: ‘A lot of what Trump unleashed was there anyway’

Setting the novel against the backdrop of the years preceding Trump’s election was not only a way of creating an elegy to the Obama era, but of suggesting that Trump didn’t emerge from a vacuum. “One of the reasons why I think it was possible to write the book is that a lot of what Trump represents and unleashed was there anyway, if you were looking properly, and would not have been destroyed by his defeat. Once you take the cork out of the bottle, things fly out.”

And while the rise and fall of Obama’s US – “the journey from that moment of optimism to its antithesis” – gave the novel a structural symmetry that has, says Rushdie, “horrible to say it, but a formally pleasing quality”, he is clear of the connection between then and now. “A big chunk of white America has been unable to stand the fact that for eight years there was a black man in the White House. Couldn’t stand it. And unfortunately Hillary was a bad candidate, and I think everybody underestimated, including me, the incredible hatred for her, including among leftwing people, young people and women.”

. September 12, 2017 at 1:32 pm

But the effect of those factors — say, Clinton’s decision to give paid speeches to investment banks, or her messaging on pocket-book issues, or the role that her gender played in the campaign — is hard to measure. The impact of Comey’s letter is comparatively easy to quantify, by contrast. At a maximum, it might have shifted the race by 3 or 4 percentage points toward Donald Trump, swinging Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida to him, perhaps along with North Carolina and Arizona. At a minimum, its impact might have been only a percentage point or so. Still, because Clinton lost Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by less than 1 point, the letter was probably enough to change the outcome of the Electoral College.

. September 12, 2017 at 1:37 pm

“My focus in this series of articles has been on the media’s horse-race coverage rather than its editorial decisions overall, but when it comes to the Comey letter, these things are intertwined. Not only was the letter probably enough to swing the outcome of the horse race, but the reverse is also true: Perceptions of the horse race probably affected the way the story unfolded. Publications may have given hyperbolic coverage to the Comey letter in part because they misanalyzed the Electoral College and wrongly concluded that Clinton was a sure thing. And Comey himself may have released his letter in part because of his overconfidence in Clinton’s chances. It’s a mess — so let’s see what we can do to untangle it.”

. September 18, 2017 at 5:00 pm

For many pundits, there’s only one key question at stake in Clinton’s version of events: Will she accept total and unconditional responsibility for our current calamity? “The Hillary Clinton ‘I-take-full-responsibility-but-here-are-all-the-other-reasons-I-lost’ tour continues to be intrinsically problematic,” tweeted CNN’s Dylan Byers. “A Brief List of People Clinton Blames for Her Election Loss, Part 3,” said a Vanity Fair headline. There’s something faintly medieval in this need to make an epic civilizational disaster wholly the fault of one person and to demand that she retreat into internal exile until she has sufficiently flayed herself.

The fact is: No one knows exactly why Clinton lost. We’ll never untangle precisely what combination of Clinton’s personal failures, Democratic campaign missteps, Russian intervention, FBI sabotage, media malpractice, misogyny, xenophobia, and nihilistic social breakdown led to our current nightmare. But the struggle to understand all these interrelated factors will be ongoing. Clinton was at the center of a uniquely terrible and baffling episode in American history. She has a perspective no one else does. Why shouldn’t she share it?

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