A Rose Garden Dies in Brooklyn
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
“They believed they were more experienced, which they were. They believed they were smarter, which they weren’t.” -Donnie Fowler, DNC consultant
“I think it’s true, they executed well. I think it’s true that the plan was accomplished. But the plan was not the right plan.” - a former Michigan labor leader
Perhaps five weeks after Election Day is a bit late for political autopsies of the Clinton campaign. But, as is inevitable with campaigns and defunct presidential administrations, the truth inevitably comes out like rusty water from a leaky pipe. And Edward Isaac Devore's piece in Politico today adds a new dimension to the staggering and, frankly, unbelievable dysfunction, stupidity and arrogance of the Clinton campaign. As a synecdoche for it, Devore focuses on the countless bad decisions and non-decisions concerning the battleground state of Michigan.
It's a state that Hillary lost to Trump by just over 10,000 votes. In a state, again, a battleground state with 7,495,216 registered voters for this election, with 40,000 added to the rolls since 2012, that's an onion skin paper-thin margin. By contrast, Trump walked away with 30,000 fewer votes than George W. Bush did in 2004 when he lost Michigan. Michigan. it should be remembered, also enjoyed a record voter turnout.
So how come Trump did so poorly compared to the 2004 Bush campaign and how did Hillary lose by such a thin margin? And does it matter now that a federal judge halted the Michigan recount a week ago and that its 16 electoral votes wouldn't make a difference since Jill Stein's campaign fell asleep at the switch and let the recount deadline lapse in PA? Well, in light of the new revelations coming out, it matters very much indeed.
Let's just put aside for a minute the James Comey/FBI investigation into the emails, then the second one, just put aside the ultimately ruinous Podesta email leaks brought out by Julian Assange and that knocked last minute waverers off the fence and onto Trump's or Jill Stein's side. There's a lot to be said for a major presidential campaign that ignores data on its biggest opponent, spills coffee on other data and ignores that from people on the ground who have a better idea of the shifts and trends on Election Day.
The Clintons have plainly lost their edge. Once the most glamorous First Couple since the Kennedys, one is dumbfounded that the wife of the guy who ran the slickest presidential campaigns in modern times could be responsible for so many bad decisions that came streaming out of Brooklyn like a tide of toxic sludge from a ruptured waste tank.
Among them were party operatives in Michigan, sensing something was off, appealing to the DNC for help. Of course, knowing the score, they were forbidden from doing this, even though ironically the DNC had just lost their leader for shameless and transparent collusion with that same Clinton campaign. Such appeals were met with furious phone calls from Clinton's campaign headquarters in Brooklyn telling these operatives to avoid the DNC like the plague. But there were also stunning lapses in judgment when legitimate appeals were made to Camp Clinton for help.
And what were they? Let us count the ways...
Calling Doctor Detroit
What the Clinton campaign needed was a campaign doctor. Not Robby Mook, not John Podesta, not Charlie Baker (not the Massachusetts Governor but the CAO) and not Huma Abedin. It needed a campaign doctor. Indeed, if the election were a patient and the Clinton campaign its doctor, it would've been sued into oblivion for malpractice and perhaps even negligent homicide.
Let's start with Michigan campaign offices telling walk in volunteers they had no literature to hand out. Or that there were no yard signs to give out because they weren't "scientifically feasible." Let's continue with money and human resources not being allocated to the state until the 11th hour GOTV or extremely faulty data still being used by the Clinton analytics team even though going back to the caucuses and primaries it had shown Clinton winning in Iowa over Sanders by 6 points (she won by 0.2%) and that she'd beat Sanders in, you guessed it, Michigan (Bernie won by 1.5%).
Let's continue with Clinton, arrogant and puffed up with bogus numbers, who showed such disrespect to the labor unions that had supported her and was so supremely confident she'd win Michigan, that she failed to show up for a UAW event to be held in her dubious honor. Or Camp Clinton telling the SEIU union not to go to Michigan to bail out her sinking campaign in the 11th hour. Or, to use Devore's simple but elegant sentences, "Michigan organizers were shocked. It was the latest case of Brooklyn ignoring on-the-ground intel and pleas for help in a race that they felt slipping away at the end."
Clinton wasn't the only one making decisions, obviously. But those subordinates who were making them were following her example of hubris and arrogance and honestly felt they were making these horrible decisions and non-decisions for the common good of the campaign and the one-size-fits-all Democratic Party.
Here's another quote from Virgie Rollins, a longtime Michigan-based DNC member: “When you don’t reach out to community folk and reach out to precinct campaigns and district organizations that know where the votes are, then you’re going to have problems.” Rollins is stupefied at the unique stupidity of the Clinton campaign and hits the nail on the head. Camp Clinton thought their numbers were superior to anyone else's and that they could ignore intel coming from state campaign operatives who had their ears on the tracks and knew better than anyone else what the real numbers said.
Yes, Bill Clinton's semen-flecked presidency was one of the most ruinous in American history. It fooled us into thinking their right wing neoliberalism was the new liberalism (it isn't, as we all found out to our rue). But both his presidential campaigns were so well-run, it earned him the nickname Slick Willie.
Fast forward nearly a quarter century later. Keep in mind how they rolled their eyes and snarled at their critics no matter how justified they were. They've gotten old and sloppy. Powerful as they remain in the corporate sector, they're like a couple of good guy wrestlers gone to seed and seeking to revive their careers by turning into the bad guy. And the effect is not only pathetic, they handed the White House to a pedophile, a racist, a misogynist, a crook, a draft dodger, a tax cheat and a sociopath.
And years and decades hence, political scientists will be scratching their heads and trying to explain how Hillary Clinton won the battle (against Sanders) yet lost the war against the stupidest, most inept and ignorant major party nominee in American history.