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Why Did Hillary Lose a “Sure Thing?” PART I

September 20, 2017


I first heard about the book, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes in April 2017, so I decided to reserve it at the library. It’s an awesome 484 pages (with no photos) so one definitely does not read it in an hour.

On April 24th I put it on reserve at the library. Yes, I realize this is a clunky way of doing things in this digital age, but I had five writing projects running side-by-side on the same track so I wasn’t in a hurry to start reading this tome.

As of May 1st, I found that I was Number 532 of 644 library members on the list who wanted to read Shattered. This dropped to 302 of 611 on June 1st, so things were definitely moving. Then the action speeded up and I dropped to 113 out of 497 as of June 26th.

Halfway through July, I finally picked up the book at the Fifth Avenue and 40th Street branch (which is closing in August for renovations and will not open again until 2020).

THE FOLLOWING: this write-up is not a review

I am simply pulling out relevant, interesting bits in an attempt to answer the question that has been echoing around the world since Trump won the 2016 Election: WHAT HAPPENED?

Let’s start with the copy on the book jacket. It reads, “Through deep access to insiders from the top to the bottom of the campaign, political writers Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes have reconstructed the key decisions and unseized opportunities, the well-intentioned misfires and the hidden thorns that turned a winnable contest into a devastating loss.

FROM: An introduction by the authors

“When we first began reporting for this book in late 2014, Hillary Clinton was the candidate to beat for the presidency. Her résumé – First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State – was unassailable. Hillary and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, had been preparing for this bid for six years.”

“Over the course of a year-and-a-half, in interviews with more than one hundred sources, we started to piece together a picture that was starkly at odds with the narrative that the campaign and the media were portraying publicly. This is the story of how it all unraveled again for Hillary.”

TO BEGIN: A star wordsmith is hired

 As a professional writer I’m a firm believer in the saying, “On the page before it’s on the stage.” The Clinton campaign also realized this early in the game so Obama’s exceptionally talented 33-year-old speechwriter, Jon Favreau, came aboard and was paired with Lissa Muscatine, a longtime Clinton speechwriter.

Jon Favreau, Obama’s 33-year-old speechwriter

The two of them got along famously well and agreed early on “the campaign was an unholy mess, fraught with tangled lines of authority, petty jealousies, distorted priorities, and no sense of greater purpose. Hillary didn’t have a vision to articulate. And no one else could give it to her.”

Frustrated with the process Favreau dropped out within weeks, but not before giving a frank assessment of the shortcomings of the operation: there was no strong leader running the show.

THE MIX: Too many cooks spoil the broth

“It was nearly impossible, to grab hold of all those who had access to Hillary. Her right hand, Abedin and others within the campaign had direct lines to her. So did any number of advisors, donors, and friends. On matters pertaining to her private-server issue, she had a team of lawyers whose need to protect her did not necessarily line up with the best political strategies for the campaign.”

“Aides and advisers often pointed to Abedin as the staff member who influenced Hillary the most – despite her inexperience as a campaign operative. Besides, aides groused, Abedin was a walking political time bomb.” They were obviously referring to her husband, Anthony.

Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin

“Another wing of the sprawling apparatus was centered at the Clinton Foundation. Hillary paid Bill’s top aides when they worked on campaign matters. The former president himself represented one of the trickiest political thickets for Hillary. He was her closest adviser, and yet his off-the-cuff remarks on the campaign trail had inflicted damage in 2008.” Inside the campaign, a bonfire of the vanities raged.

UPDATE: Hillary’s hot-off-the press book is titled WHAT HAPPENED (no question mark). I’ll go with the question mark. It’s closer to the truth.


Shaun Nelson-Henrick


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