What ‘Hacks’ re­veals about Hil­lary

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By David A. Keene

Donna Brazile’s revealing look at what was go­ing on within her beloved Demo­cratic Party in the days lead­ing up to Don­ald Trump’s vic­tory over party favorite Hil­lary Clin­ton last Novem­ber has fi­nally forced me­dia pun­dits to re­al­ize that the hated Repub­li­cans aren’t the only dys­func­tional fam­ily in town.

Ms. Brazile’s rev­e­la­tion in her new book “Hacks” that the party lead­er­ship was not only pro-Clin­ton but, to use a pop­u­lar Wash­ing­ton term, col­lud­ing with her and her cam­paign to make sure she would win the 2016 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion didn’t come as much of a shock. Ev­ery semi-con­scious fol­lower of na­tional po­lit­i­cal go­ings-on al­ready knew this, but few would have guessed that party lead­ers would have for­mally rented the party ap­pa­ra­tus to a prospec­tive nom­i­nee and then lied about it to the press, mem­bers of the party’s gov­ern­ing com­mit­tee and to her ri­vals.

It turns out that as 2016 ap­proached, the Demo­cratic Party was not just broke, but deeply in debt, thanks to Pres­i­dent Obama’s be­lief that ev­ery­thing was about him and him alone. His hand­picked party chair­man, Rep. Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz was no Bob Strauss and, as Ms. Brazile puts it, not much of a fundraiser. In des­per­a­tion, she and her co­horts went to Mrs. Clin­ton for help and got a les­son in what it’s like to bor­row from loan sharks. The Clin­ton cam­paign was more than happy to help, but for a price. The “vig” in­cluded con­trol over party strat­egy, veto power over per­son­nel and even fi­nal say over press re­leases that Ms. Brazile dis­cov­ered, af­ter tak­ing over as act­ing chair­man, had to be passed by Clin­ton op­er­a­tives in New York be­fore they could be re­leased.

The deal was for­mal­ized in a con­tract put to­gether for the Clin­ton cam­paign by Wash­ing­ton lawyer and cam­paign gen­eral coun­sel Marc Elias — when he wasn’t busy elic­it­ing what turned out to be a largely fic­tional anti-Trump “dossier” by chan­nel­ing cam­paign and party funds to for­mer Bri­tish and Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tives with vivid imag­i­na­tions. Later, like a true Clin­tonite, he of­fered a sim­i­lar con­tract to Sen. Bernie San­ders ab­sent the con­trol fea­tures in the agree­ment with the Clin­ton cam­paign and de­scribed it as es­sen­tially the same agree­ment of­fered oth­ers.

Sup­port­ers of Mr. San­ders, who emerged as Mrs. Clin­ton’s great­est prenom­i­na­tion chal­lenger, al­ways sus­pected the con­test was be­ing waged on some­thing less than a level play­ing field. They see the deal as proof that they were robbed. But one sus­pects that even if the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee had played fair, Mr. San­ders would have lost any­way, just as even if the Rus­sians had stayed out of things, Mr. Trump would have beat Mrs. Clin­ton in Novem­ber.

Ms. Brazile touches on the real prob­lem the Democrats faced in 2016 and con­tinue to strug­gle with to­day. Their can­di­date and her cam­paign could re­mem­ber nei­ther the words nor the mu­sic that led them to suc­cess af­ter suc­cess in an ear­lier day. Suc­cess­ful po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns must uti­lize all the an­a­lyt­i­cal data avail­able, but data-driven cam­paigns with­out heart are al­most al­ways doomed to fail. The young an­a­lysts Mrs. Clin­ton put in charge of her op­er­a­tion had per­formed well for Mr. Obama ear­lier, but while they pro­vided the data, he pro­vided the vi­sion and heart that pro­pelled him to the White House in 2008 and 2012. Mrs. Clin­ton could pro­vide nei­ther.

The folks run­ning Mrs. Clin­ton’s cam­paign weren’t much in­ter­ested in real vot­ers, but in num­bers. They didn’t see it as cru­cial that their can­di­date go to places like Wis­con­sin to ac­tu­ally ask for sup­port be­cause their data said she wouldn’t have to visit places like that. These are

One sus­pects that even if the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee had played fair, Mr. San­ders would have lost any­way, just as even if the Rus­sians had stayed out of things, Mr. Trump would have beat Mrs. Clin­ton in Novem­ber.

the sorts of peo­ple who would rather text their friends than talk to them over a cup of cof­fee or waste time chat­ting on the phone. They were the ones quick to dis­miss the en­ergy and num­bers of vot­ers show­ing up to hear Bernie San­ders and Don­ald Trump as ir­rel­e­vant.

The Hous­ton Astros won one of the most ex­cit­ing World Se­ries in his­tory this fall af­ter a re­build that al­most didn’t work be­cause, as their star pitcher, Dal­las Keuchel, told a Wall Street Jour­nal an­a­lyst af­ter the se­ries: “There was a dis­con­nect. Ev­ery player was a num­ber in­stead of a per­son.” The Astros, prior to this year, re­lied on data and the an­a­lyt­ics that have come to dom­i­nate many of to­day’s sports, but learned ig­nor­ing the heart for the head was not the an­swer,

This year things changed and the new team, while re­ly­ing still on an­a­lyt­ics, de­vel­oped the chem­istry so es­sen­tial to win­ning. The at­mos­phere in the old Astros locker room may have re­sem­bled the “ster­ile hos­pi­tal ward” Ms. Brazile found when she vis­ited the Clin­ton cam­paign head­quar­ters last fall, “but all that changed this year with the Astros’ re­al­iza­tion that num­bers aren’t ev­ery­thing.”

As Ms. Brazile notes be­tween al­most ev­ery line of her book, that’s some­thing Mrs. Clin­ton and those around her never re­al­ized. David A. Keene is edi­tor at large at The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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