Hillary Clinton: Memos Show She Was Not Ready To Lead From Day One

The memos from the Clinton campaign, which I previously discussed here, show both that Hillary Clinton was neither ready to lead or ethically fit to lead. Joshua Green began his review of the memos with this observation:

Above all, this irony emerges: Clinton ran on the basis of managerial competence—on her capacity, as she liked to put it, to “do the job from Day One.” In fact, she never behaved like a chief executive, and her own staff proved to be her Achilles’ heel. What is clear from the internal documents is that Clinton’s loss derived not from any specific decision she made but rather from the preponderance of the many she did not make. Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.

It appears that the campaign paid attention to some details while ignoring others. One detail they did not ignore was Monica Lewinsky. Green wrote that “campaign staffers in Portland, Oregon, kept tabs on Monica Lewinsky, who lived there, to avoid any surprise encounters.”

One of many problems seen in Hillary Clinton during the campaign was the manner in which she acted like a victim whenever things did not go her way. This might have been reinforced by the manner in which Mark Penn performed his job, in contrast to how Karl Rove might have handled similar situations:

Penn’s memo is also notable for its tone: it reinforces rather than confronts the Clintons’ biases. “The biggest problem we have is the troika that has been set up to tear Hillary down,” he wrote.

It is a vast right and left wing conspiracy. Listening to Brit Hume say that Obama is surging while Hillary failed to do X is almost comical and certainly transparent. The right knows Obama is unelectable except perhaps against Attila the Hun, and a third party would come in then anyway.By contrast, top consultants like Karl Rove usually aim to temper their clients’ biases with a cold dose of realism. I suspect the damaging persecution complex that both Clintons displayed drew much of its sustenance from memos like this one.

Penn was responsible for much of the negative tone of the campaign, and even wanted it to be more negative than Clinton was willing to accept, such as with his use of xenophobia:

Penn also left no doubt about where he stood on the question of a positive versus negative strategy. He made the rather astonishing suggestion to target Obama’s “lack of American roots”:

All of these articles about his boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii are geared towards showing his background is diverse, multicultural and putting that in a new light.
Save it for 2050.

It also exposes a very strong weakness for him—his roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited. I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values. He told the people of NH yesterday he has a Kansas accent because his mother was from there. His mother lived in many states as far as we can tell—but this is an example of the nonsense he uses to cover this up.

How we could give some life to this contrast without turning negative:

Every speech should contain the line you were born in the middle of America to the middle class in the middle of the last century. And talk about the basic bargain as about the deeply American values you grew up with, learned as a child and that drive you today. Values of fairness, compassion, responsibility, giving back.

Let’s explicitly own ‘American’ in our programs, the speeches and the values. He doesn’t. Make this a new American Century, the American Strategic Energy Fund. Let’s use our logo to make some flags we can give out. Let’s add flag symbols to the backgrounds.

Although Clinton’s nomination was initially felt to be inevitable, by late 2007 it was obvious that the campaign was not ready for prime time. In early December I wrote a post entitled Hillary Clinton Jumps The Shark which included criticism for her ridiculous attacks on Obama based upon an essay he wrote in kindergarten. The article provides some background on this attack:

On December 1, Clinton and her husband attended a private dinner with the influential Des Moines Register editorial board. Seated at opposite ends of a long table, they were stunned to hear journalists praise the skill and efficiency of the Obama and Edwards campaigns and question why Clinton’s own operation was so passive.

On the next morning’s staff conference call, Clinton exploded, demanding to know why the campaign wasn’t on the attack. Solis Doyle was put on a plane to Iowa the next day to oversee the closing weeks. Within hours of the call, the panicked staff produced a blistering attack on Obama for what it characterized as evidence of his overweening lust for power: he had written a kindergarten essay titled “I Want to Become President.” The campaign was mocked for weeks.

Many tactical errors were made by Clinton after that, such as ignoring the caucus states, and the campaign became increasingly desperate and dishonest. Even before the campaign went this route, Clinton’s victory no longer appeared inevitable. It was by December that I decided that, considering how the race was effectively down to Clinton, Edwards, and Obama, that Obama was the only reasonable choice. Events of the past week, including the publication of these memos and the Edwards/Rielle Hunter scandal, have only acted to reinforce what I felt by the end of 2007. Despite being new to the national stage, of the three top tier Democratic candidates only Barack Obama was both capable of winning a national election and was the only one of the three who was fit to be president.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    phony express says:

    (Typo in title – … Memos She Show She Was Not Ready …)

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