One More Clinton Campaign Post-Mortem: No Hierarchy, No Trust, No Comity


There’s a new Vanity Fair article on the squabblings of Hillary Clinton’s key campaign advisers. As you would expect, it feels about two months out of date, but it’s still well-reported. The dysfunction described — some of the folks at the top of the Clinton campaign really couldn’t stand each other — really makes you wonder how the campaign ran at all. Here’s an excerpt, for short-term nostalgia’s sake:

It was impossible to find anyone who could lay out the hierarchy of Hillary’s campaign. Almost everybody had veto power, but no one could initiate. The group was about as effective as the U.N. Security Council. After Super Tuesday and Obama’s remarkable run of February victories, it was clear their arrogantly defended strategies had failed. They became consumed with trading personal invective, hurling expletives, and trashing one another in print.

[Mark] Penn and [Harold] Ickes especially hated each other. Penn was a protégé of the most poisonous character in the Clinton White House, pollster Dick Morris. Leon Panetta, who had battled against Morris’s morally empty advice in the ’96 campaign, compared Penn to Karl Rove and saw Hillary’s dependence on Penn as an ominous sign. “Morris had no lines between right and wrong,” says Panetta. “There are moments when [the Clintons] want to hear from the dark side because that may be the only way to win.… Losing is not part of their vocabulary. They know no limits when it comes to the energy and tactics they will use—no matter how distasteful.”

Everyone takes digs at everyone in the piece. It’s an ugly scene, and it undercuts the claims of greater executive management skills — “Think about the [election] as a hiring decision!” HRC used to say — that Clinton made when running against Obama.

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