Only the most rabid fans of US politics will have the time or energy to wade through this doorstopper by Washington DC insiders Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, Shattered.
Allen is the former head of community and content for Sidewire and writes a weekly column for Rollcall. Parnes is senior White House correspondent for The Hill newspaper, covering the Clinton campaign and Trump administration.
The book dives into the deep, sometimes murky depths of Clintonworld and surfaces with facts on what was – despite the confidence of so many of the commentariat that it would be an easy Clinton victory – at times a pretty shaky campaign.
Shattered also focuses on the people behind Hillary; Robby Mook, her campaign director, whose data-driven strategy saw him clash with Bill Clinton’s old style campaigning. Mook, a veteran Beltway operative was asked by New York representative Steve Israel, what they should do first to set up for the 2012 elections in two years.
Mook’s response was “Clean house”. He meant fire everyone, force people to reapply for their jobs. Those that remain know to whom they owe allegiance. However Mook was to clash with Huma Abedin, Hillary’s ‘body woman’ for almost two decades, the aide closest to the candidate and as the weeks, months and finally years progressed, Mook was to find himself up against others, including Bill Clinton, whose desire to help Hillary and his defence of his own legacy would be in constant conflict throughout the campaign.
Bill Clinton ‘he, of the silver tongue and golden touch, was a little rusty’ was to realise Mook was an expert of GOTV – get out the vote – data whereas he, Clinton, came from the GOTV – go on television – era. It was not a comfortable team fit:
Inside the campaign, a bonfire of the vanities raged. Each division had its own silo; Mook was in charge of budget and operations, Palmieri at the helm of a sprawling and warring communications staff, Adedin in charge of Hillary, Sullivan guiding policy and Elan Kriegal running the powerful analytics team. There was also a holy trinity of consultants [competing] with Mook for influence; chief strategist Benenson, adman Margolis and longtime Clinton message guru Grunwald… Much of this infighting might have been avoided had someone been given authority to have the final say on matters large and small. But Hillary distributed power so broadly that none of her aides or advisers had control of the whole apparatus.
First Bernie Sanders, then Joe Biden were Hillary’s challengers; she, like the American and international media, hardly credited him with winning Republican pre-selection.
It was Michelle Obama, according to Shattered that pulled Clinton’s campaign together, her speech describing her as someone with “the guts and grace to keep coming back and putting those cracks in that highest and hardest glass ceiling until she finally breaks through… Because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters – now take for granted that a woman can be President of the United States.”
In the end, it all came unstuck. The absurdities of the election – Russian cyber attacks, FBI director James Comey’s grenade about Hillary’s private emails and the desertion of white working class voters ‘intensified the sense of grief for Hillary, Bill and their inner circle.’
Shattered really is a very apt title.
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