These are taken from my previous blog:
What Happened. By Hillary Clinton.
The tl;dr take:
1. This won’t change your mind about Hillary Clinton. If you despised her before, you’ll feel the same way after the book. If you loved her before, you’ll still love her. If you thought “ok, decent policy wonk but not really charismatic”, well, you’ll leave this book with the same opinion.
2. I was disappointed: I expected it to be more of “I should have opened X field offices in Pennsylvania and spent Y in ads in Wisconsin” and perhaps a bit more introspection. There was some introspection, but it was scattered throughout. On the other hand, I did learn that what sort of breakfast egg dishes she likes, that she likes an occasional hamburger, that she likes kids, that Justice Ginsberg does planks twice a week and yes, that she (Hillary Clinton) wears yoga pants. Seriously (page 19 for the yoga pants mention)
3. I’d say that about 2/3 of the book is worth reading. The best section is the one called Frustration, which features the 5 chapters Country Roads, Those Damn Emails, “Trolls, Bots, Fake News and Real Russians”, Election Night, Why. I was expecting most of the book to be like this section. It did give a nice summary of the issues of e-mails, Russian meddling, how the press handled things and some of the prevailing headwinds. The chapter “Sweating the Details” in the section “Sisterhood” is good too. And she flat out admitted that much of the country simply does not like her.
4. I’d say that she is finished running for elective office; she really did burn some bridges and say a few things sans a politician’s filter. Here is a beauty: (page 276; she is describing people in Appalachia)
But anger and resentment do run deep. As Appalachian natives such as author J. D. Vance have pointed out, a culture of grievance, victimhood, and scapegoating has taken root as traditional values of self-reliance and hard work have withered. There’s a tendency toward seeing every problem as someone else’s fault, whether it’s Obama, liberal elites in the big cities,
undocumented immigrants taking jobs, minorities soaking up government assistance–or me.
5. And yes, about the “basket of deplorables” remark: she admits that it was a political mistake to make that statement, but she stands by the actual logic of the statement (about half of the Trump supporters fall into that category). Actually, I do too, but it is an interesting statement to make..at least from a politician not named “Trump”.
6. Oh yes, she really doesn’t like Trump. She does take shots at Sanders, Comey, the press, etc. But she really doesn’t like Trump.
7. Above all, this book is, without apology, aimed mostly at women; I’d say at educated, upper middle class women.
More detail: the book is not a linear time progression. It starts out describing the inauguration and her decision to attend (later to go home and put on a fleece top and yoga pants). Chronologically, it skips around quite a bit.
Much of the early part of the book is a bit like NBC’s Olympic coverage: human interest stuff (what she eats, when she wakes up, day to day stuff…kids, grand kids, relations between her staff, etc.).
She does get onto issues, including Black Lives Matter, Mothers of the Movement (black victims of gun violence), Police (yes, she talks about the massacre of police officers), climate change, and the lead in the Flint water supply (and wonders if advocating for poor blacks in Flint cost her votes in Michigan). She also talks about NATO and some of the complexities of foreign policy.
She does have some beefs though:
1. Press coverage. They seemed to be fixated on her e-mail problems (way overblown) and that ate up much of her press coverage; it hurt her ability to talk about issues. It also blotted out coverage about other things, such as he bus tour. She also pointed out that Trump appeared to send the press a “new rabbit to chase” almost daily; that appeared to keep the press from drilling down on his honest to goodness issues.
2. Russian interference: she goes into this in detail; the main issue is not only did they hack into the DNC and into her Podesta’s e-mails, but they also strategically planted fake news and gamed the social media and search engine algorithms so that these stories appeared on the feeds of likely undecided voters living in battleground states.
3. Bernie Sanders: she took shots at his unrealistic “we could have this or that” claims and ridiculed the idea that if we could somehow just get the PACs out of business, his proposals would be popular NATIONWIDE; he seemed to disregard regional differences in attitudes. She resented the implication that she was somehow crooked.
4. She flat out admit that the history of “Clinton scandals” (mostly untrue) dogged her and made people ready to believe new “non-scandals” about her. And on page 399
Moreover I have come to terms with the fact that a lot of people–millions and millions of people, decided they just didn’t like me.
5. Introspection: she said that she should have not used the line “we are going to put a lot of coal miners out of work” even though it was quoted out of context.
Here are her full remarks, with the most relevant parts in bold:
Look, we have serious economic problems in many parts of our country. And Roland is absolutely right. Instead of dividing people the way Donald Trump does, let’s reunite around policies that will bring jobs and opportunities to all these underserved poor communities.
So for example, I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?
And we’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories.
Now we’ve got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.
So whether it’s coal country or Indian country or poor urban areas, there is a lot of poverty in America. We have gone backwards. We were moving in the right direction. In the ’90s, more people were lifted out of poverty than any time in recent history.
Because of the terrible economic policies of the Bush administration, President Obama was left with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and people fell back into poverty because they lost jobs, they lost homes, they lost opportunities, and hope.
So I am passionate about this, which is why I have put forward specific plans about how we incentivize more jobs, more investment in poor communities, and put people to work.
She did discuss her “basket of deplorables” remark on page 413 and noted that she wasn’t talking about all Trump supporters but “about half of them”. She then goes on to provide data (from polls) regarding the attitudes of Trump supporters to back up her claim of accuracy!
She does not pull punches about those who overlooked some of Trump’s ugly statements either.
Getting back to introspection: she acknowledges that perhaps, when listening to angry voters, she jumped straight to proposed solutions instead of listening to the venting to assure the voter that she “got” and “felt” the depth of their anger and pain …first.
6. Resentments: I’ve discussed her stated, well resentments about some of Trump’s supporters. She also took shots at “my way or the highway” activists, shots at those who attempted to “disrupt” her rallies (she made a point to put the word in italics (page 203). About the woman’s marches: she approved of them but wondered where that passion was during the election itself and why some did not vote. She resented Sander’s bumper sticker depth of policy, the press, the timing of the Comey letter (which probably DID cost her the election), the Electoral College and…
7. Being a woman: I’d say that the underlying thread of her book is about being a female and the disadvantages that brings from sexism (e. g. her being a female is one reason to be against her), misogyny (on page 114-115 she explains the difference between the two). She complains about the extra time a woman (in the public eye) has to spend on make up. And yes, she acknowledges that she lost the white women’s vote and especially the non-college educated white woman’s vote.
8. Yes, she discusses race and thinks that she did suffer some backlash from those who resented having a black president for 8 years.
9. She did discuss campaign strategy just a bit and pushed back on the narrative that she didn’t campaign enough in the former “blue wall” rust belt states.
Clearly, there is much more in the book than what I said, but hopefully, you’ll get a sense of whether you want to read it or not.
Update: here is a fact check of her book (it comes out pretty well) She also mentions a Facebook meme that I not only saw but passed around (Bernie and the pony) and a Facebook group that I belonged to (Pantsuit Nation).
Shattered by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.
Like many, I thought that Hillary Clinton would win but was aware that she was not in as strong of a position as Obama was in during the 2012 campaign.
Still, I thought that the “worst case” was 272-266 Clinton
And I misread the coalition that Trump brought aboard in key states.
So, what went wrong? Oh I know what went wrong with the models that overstated Clinton’s probability of winning; it was the statistical idea of independence and the width of the confidence intervals.
But what about with the election and campaign itself? The book Shattered examines that question. Yes, the book makes it clear that the Comey letter, Russian meddling and other forces played a factor; for example, in some key areas of key states, she did just as well as Obama did with the female vote but did much worse with the male vote. This book does NOT discount these factors.
But it does talk about how dysfunctional the campaign was (the goal was often to maintain access to HRC rather than to get her elected…loyalty was rewarded, sometimes at the expense of competence..and there was too much focus on analytics and “getting one’s people to the polls as opposed to trying to win at least a few votes over”.
Yes, I know; many times there are people that you are wasting your time with. But there is value in persuasion; sometimes losing red counties 65-35 instead of 75-25 can help you carry the state.
And, they painted a portrait of a candidate who, while knowing every white paper on the issues, just could not connect with voters outside of a narrow circle. And it wasn’t as if HRC was good with public introspection; she appeared to place little blame on herself, at least at that time. She does some of this in her own book, which came out later.
I found that the book was a good complement to Clinton’s own book What Happened.
Oh yes, if you Loooooove Hillary you’ll think that this book is a “hit job”. This book will be dismissed by Clinton cultists. If you hate her, you’ll find a lot you like in the book, though the book DOES admit that other factors played a big role; any one of these could have tipped the scales in such a close election.
But, realistically, I think that the book shows that attempted to run a 2012 style campaign against a very unconventional opponent with the country being in an unconventional mood.
And yes, while Obama was a ground breaking candidate, he was also a “purple unicorn” with extreme intelligence, charisma and political skill. Clinton had only the ‘intelligence” part; being a woman didn’t seem to help her a higher percentage of the female vote and she was hurt with the male vote. Though one might exclaim “sexism”, and I have no doubt that it was a factor, I wonder if there was a difference: Obama got to where he was under his own steam. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton got to where she was because of Bill; had she never married him, she might have well been some successful lawyer, professor or policy expert.
And while her being saddled to Bill got her into the arena, it may well have harmed her during this particular election itself.
Now of course, every campaign makes mistakes and has some dysfunction; after all, Trump did horribly during the debates and had all sorts of gaffes and missteps ..many which might have sunk him in a different election. But he had enough showmanship (“political campaign skill”) to overcome those missteps….at least during THIS election.
Other reviews: here, here and here.