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May 16, 2008

How the Glacier Melted: Hillary's Staff Dishes

More than twelve Hillary staffers, we're told. from low-level grunts to money men to high-ranking senior staff, answered a questionnaire with full anonymity guaranteed. (Supposedly -- this is TNR, I should note.)

So-- what went wrong? Short answer: Everything.

Apart from the obvious answer that she was a poor candidate running against a good one (or, rather, an exciting one), here are some of the more interesting answers:

"Clearly [Obama] was a phenomenon. He was tapping something really different than anyone had ever seen before. ... Months and months before Iowa, he was getting record crowds. I just think they should have really gone after him back in the summer and in the fall. I know it would have been a difficult decision to make back then. She's the leader of the party, the standard bearer, the big dog. Everyone thinks she's gonna win and walk away with it. Why go picking on Barack Obama? But that's just something the campaign should have done sooner."

..

"Devastating vulnerabilities such as Obama's associations with Wright and Ayers were not unearthed by the campaign's vaunted research team in time to be fully taken advantage of--despite being readily available in the public domain."

...


"Harold Ickes's encyclopedic understanding of the proportional delegate system was never operationalized into a field plan. The campaign inexplicably wrote off many states entirely, allowing Obama to create the lead of 100+ delegates that he has today. Most notably, we claimed the race would be over by February 5, but didn't devote any resources to the smaller states that day and in the weeks that followed, allowing Obama to easily run up margins and delegate counts on the cheap--the delegate margin he will win by."

Mark Penn gets blamed a lot. This seems important:

"Probably our second biggest mistake was much more operational: Making our chief strategist our one and only pollster. It is impossible to disagree and have a counter view on message when the person creating the message is also the person testing the message."

Even I'd realize that was a bad mistake, and I'm a moron.

Although Patty Solis Doyle gets blamed a lot, Mark Penn gets more specific criticisms, because no one seemed to understand what the hell Patty Solis Doyle was doing besides sitting on her ass all day. Well played, Ms. Doyle.

So back to Mark Penn:

"She never embraced the mantle from the beginning of being a different kind of candidate. Why did the campaign not do that? Because Mark Penn wanted to do it a different way. Read his book. He thought that you have a list of policy prescriptions. Voters are into that, and that's how you win. This came at the expense of--and it's a decision he really pushed for--saying to folks, 'Yes, she's a pretty inspiring figure herself.' ... There's no reason why she's not a change agent also. But once the CW is set, it just doesn't change."

Yes. Wonkery and small-bore policy prescriptions. Everyone knows that's the battlefield presidential contests are fought upon. Certainly not likability and character and biography and vision.

Which are frankly bullshit, but then so are policy prescriptions.

And then there's this:

"There was financial mismanagement bordering on fraud. A candidate who raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars over the years had to pump in millions more of her own money to stave off bankruptcy."

More at the link.


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posted by Ace at 01:09 AM

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