The hottest post-election book this year is “Shattered” by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parmesan. It deals with the question that voters and professionals have been asking since November 9:
How did Hillary Clinton – who had every institutional advantage including money, a unified party and the presumed electoral map -manage to lose to Donald J. Trump?
The book acknowledges some of the obstacles in Mrs. Clinton’s path including “partisan congressional investigation; a primary opponent who attacked her character; a rogue FBI director; the rank misogyny of her Republican rival; a media that scrutinized her every move while failing to get that Republican rival to turn over his tax returns; and even a Kremlin-based campaign to defeat her.”
However, she was still favored to win and did not.
This book provides some answers as to why the upset occurred. The overall conclusions are that this winnable campaign was hobbled by a dysfunctional campaign staff and by the candidate herself.
Some examples among many:
• Out of misplaced loyalties, Mrs. Clinton kept Huma Abedin and campaign manager Robbie Mook long after they became political liabilities or simply ineffective. Ms. Abedin is well-known. Mr. Mook championed the use of data in political campaigns and in this election the authors conclude that this became an over-reliance. One of the most revealing passages is: “(Bill Clinton would) report back from the field on what he was hearing at campaign events and from friends across the country. Mook’s response was always a variation on the same analysis: the data run counter to your anecdotes.” In this way 36-year old Robbie Mook checked the influence of one of the most successful campaigners of our time.
• Mrs. Clinton did not ever realize how the email scandal ate away at her campaign
•. Mrs. Clinton never articulated a vision for her presidency.
• Mrs Clinton and her team never realized the populist anger demonstrated in the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump
Like gawkers at real train wrecks, readers will find “Shattered” a source of morbid fascination.
Two additional points:
The authors’ technique was to conduct off-the-record interviews with campaign insiders. Hence, the book is short on footnotes with the trade-off, one hopes, coming in the form of candor.
Our primary question is whether this book accurately assesses the extent and impact of Russian meddling. If forced to answer, we would say that that it does. But for now that question remains an ongoing investigation
Finally, for those who either favored Mrs. Clinton or who like the writer of these posts saw in her a potentially good president, this book reads like a slow-motion train wreck. Like gawkers at real train wrecks, readers will find “Shattered” a source of morbid fascination.
Book review of Jonathan Allen and Amie Parmesan “Shattered Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign” (New York: Crown an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, Kindle Edition, 2017)