Atlantic’s bombshell on Hillary’s internal memos not much of a bombshell, really

posted at 8:45 pm on August 11, 2008 by Allahpundit

I read the piece itself but not the actual memos — although, given what Jake Tapper found, maybe I should have. The one semi-bombshell detail, Mark Penn’s strategy to target (by implication) Obama’s “lack of American roots”, was scooped by Politico a few days ago so all that’s left is a little extra flesh on the bones of a story most people were already familiar with. Did you know, for example, that the campaign was rife with personality clashes and strategic disagreements exacerbated by Hillary’s slow-footed, paralyzing managerial style? Were you aware that it was effectively broke before the primaries got going and she had to loan it money? Had you heard that her dopey advisors didn’t start thinking about the delegate count until it was too late to counter Obama’s organization advantage in the caucus states? You should have: All of those angles have been covered before ad nauseam and duly blogged across the political spectrum. (A fact acknowledged by author Joshua Green.) The most interesting scooplet from what’s left:

Yet the clashes and paralysis continued. In the aftermath of Obama’s historic race speech on March 18, Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas congresswoman, urged Clinton to deliver a speech of her own on gender. Clinton appeared very much to want to do this, and solicited the advice of her staff, which characteristically split. The campaign went back and forth for weeks. Opponents argued that her oratory couldn’t possibly match Obama’s, and proponents countered that she would get credit simply for trying, inspire legions of women to her cause, and highlight an issue that everyone in the campaign fiercely believed was hurting them—sexism. But Clinton never made a decision, and seemed troubled by the concern of Ann Lewis, perhaps her most venerable feminist adviser, who opposed such a speech for fear that it would equate sexism with racism—another contrast with Obama that Clinton feared she would lose.

She was right not to do it. It would have come off as a feeble copycat attempt to match Obama’s identity politics speech with her own, and Team Barry would have responded true to form by whispering to the media along the exact lines Ann Lewis feared.

Fun facts plucked at random: The campaign kept tabs on Monica Lewinsky in Portland lest any unfortunate run-ins occur; it was Bill, not Hillary, who approved the “3 a.m.” ad; and hapless pollster Mark Penn actually nailed the key elements of the coalition that carried Hillary to victory in the late primaries all the way back in March 2007. More amusing than the article itself, perhaps, is TPM’s bullet-point summary of key revelations, most of which have to do with the idea — gasp — that the Clintons and Penn were willing to attack St. Barack on his electability and Jeremiah Wright. Democrats? Behaving less than virtuously?

But back to Tapper’s post. Exit question: What “tapes” did Penn have in mind in his December 30, 2007 memo? Judging from his March 30, 2008 memo touching on the Wright scandal — more than two weeks after it broke, do note — I’m guessing that they had copies of Wright’s sermons last year and had sat on them for fear of a backlash from TPM-types if they’d released them. Which brings us to an obvious follow-up question: If they had the tapes all along, were they the ones who leaked them to Brian Ross and ABC, setting off the scandal?

Update: Actually, you know what the real surprise of this piece is? There’s no evidence of any malfeasance by the Clintons. Incompetence aplenty, to be sure, but all the dicier stuff comes from Penn, not Bill or Hillary, and it’s unclear to what extent they followed those dicier bits of advice. In fact, Tapper’s post suggests it was the Clintons who were the superego to his id: If they did have the tapes of Wright all along and sat on them even while Hillary was being slowly buried by the delegate margin in February, it’s an uncharacteristic show of restraint.


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She’s crazy; she’s bitter; she’s ruthless

nothing new here……….

Janos Hunyadi on August 11, 2008 at 8:48 PM

About the proposed Clinton attack on Obama’s lack of “American roots”, Green snootily opines, “Clinton wisely chose not to go this route.”

Message to Joshua Green: Clinton (appears to have) lost the primary. This means that the strategy she chose didn’t work. Who’s to say whether she would have done better had she attacked St. Barack on his disconnection from the mainstream experience in this country? How can you say it was “wise” for her to decide against such an approach, when that strategy just might have put her over the top?

Or do you mean that it is “unwise” for anyone to attack Obama on anything, since he’s The One?

Cicero43 on August 11, 2008 at 8:56 PM

Read just part of it, as it’s very boring.

and Clinton never forced a resolution. Major decisions would be put off for weeks until suddenly she would erupt, driving her staff to panic and misfire.

It’s futile to blame the staff. She should be accountable and own the defeat. If she’d have been a better executive, or leader, it seems that she’d have made it.

Interestingly, I still respect her more now, than ever before.

Entelechy on August 11, 2008 at 9:02 PM

Interestingly, I still respect her more now, than ever before.

Entelechy on August 11, 2008 at 9:02 PM

Odd, that, in’t it? I’ve called Hillary many things over the years, but “organizationally inept” and “reticent to go on the attack” were never one of them.

Tuning Spork on August 11, 2008 at 9:21 PM

Atlantic’s bombshell on Hillary’s internal memos not much of a bombshell, really

Heh, I thought the same thing when I began to read, and then started skimming over the article in the Headlines. zzzzzzz

Tony737 on August 11, 2008 at 9:23 PM

Bah, no links to pictures of Huma Abedin in boy short panties and an Ed Hardy T-shirt.

Alden Pyle on August 11, 2008 at 9:24 PM

I’m still astonished that they managed to burn through so much money so quickly. But it’s not like Hillary didn’t have ample warning. The incompetent Solis-Doyle had already demonstrated her propensity for profligate spending in Hillary’s Senate re-election campaign. The fact that Hillary ignored the warning signs and put Solis-Doyle in charge of her presidential campaign speaks volumes about Hillary’s lack of good business judgment and managerial skills.

AZCoyote on August 11, 2008 at 9:26 PM

After that five page snorefest, this was the only line I found worth qouting and commenting on:

He may be the JFK in the race, but you are the Bobby.

Whattaya tryin’ to say? Ya want ‘em BOTH to get shot? Geez, what a stupid thing to say. That’s like saying “Well, he might be the Titanic of this race, but you’re the Lusitania.”

Tony737 on August 11, 2008 at 8:20 PM

Tony737 on August 11, 2008 at 9:35 PM

it’s an uncharacteristic show of restraint complete stupidity.

Fixed it for ya.

TheBigOldDog on August 11, 2008 at 9:41 PM

Update: Actually, you know what the real surprise of this piece is? There’s no evidence of any malfeasance by the Clintons.

DOES NOT COMPUTE.

Someone at least tell me that ice is cold and fire is hot, because my entire view of reality has just been shattered.

Hollowpoint on August 11, 2008 at 9:45 PM

Talk about burying the lead. She had the Wright tapes and buried them for Four Months, from Iowa on…. she would have won if those tapes came out in late December. No doubt about it.

AYNBLAND on August 11, 2008 at 10:37 PM

But back to Tapper’s post. Exit question: What “tapes” did Penn have in mind in his December 30, 2007 memo? Judging from his March 30, 2008 memo touching on the Wright scandal — more than two weeks after it broke, do note — I’m guessing that they had copies of Wright’s sermons last year and had sat on them for fear of a backlash from TPM-types if they’d released them. Which brings us to an obvious follow-up question: If they had the tapes all along, were they the ones who leaked them to Brian Ross and ABC, setting off the scandal?
Update: Actually, you know what the real surprise of this piece is? There’s no evidence of any malfeasance by the Clintons. Incompetence aplenty, to be sure, but all the dicier stuff comes from Penn, not Bill or Hillary, and it’s unclear to what extent they followed those dicier bits of advice. In fact, Tapper’s post suggests it was the Clintons who were the superego to his id: If they did have the tapes of Wright all along and sat on them even while Hillary was being slowly buried by the delegate margin in February, it’s an uncharacteristic show of restraint.

restraint, or stupidity?

Or did they try to send them to the media but nobody would show them? Of course Hannity talked about this stuff for a year or so before the story “broke” into the MSM, so it’s not like nobody could have purchased these tapes for themselves if they’d wanted to.

funky chicken on August 11, 2008 at 11:49 PM

The fact that Hillary ignored the warning signs and put Solis-Doyle in charge

That could be said of Bush in many situations. I think it speaks to the overall poor character of the type of people running our country. Not just the ones at the top, but at all levels. The best and brightest aren’t running this country anymore, the sleaziest are.

peacenprosperity on August 12, 2008 at 7:17 AM

In fact, Tapper’s post suggests it was the Clintons who were the superego to his id: If they did have the tapes of Wright all along and sat on them even while Hillary was being slowly buried by the delegate margin in February, it’s an uncharacteristic show of restraint.

Hillary didn’t think she could lose until she got her butt kicked in Iowa. I agree she should have deployed the Wright tapes in early February 2008 rather than in mid March–but you can excuse her for not dropping that bombshell back in 2007 when she had a comfortable lead and when doing so would have just made her look bad.

What’s most telling here is how naive the Obama people were. Nobody from Obama’s campaign bothered to check out Jeremiah Wright’s website and see what tapes were for sale? Especially since Hannity aired an interview of Wright in March 2007 that exposed Wright as being a radical? Arrogance, people, arrogance!

Outlander on August 12, 2008 at 9:11 AM

Hillary’s Swan Song 2008 DNC Convention

I guess I’ll have to change my plan,
I should have realized there’d be another man.
I overlooked that point completely
Until the Big affair began.
Before I knew where I was at,
I found myself upon the shelf and that was that.
I tried to reach the moon, but when I got there,
All that I could get was the air.
My feet are back upon the ground.
I’ve lost the one girl I found.

I Guess I’ll have to change my plan;
I should have realized there’d be another man.
Why did I buy those blue pajamas
Before the big affair began?
My boiling point is much too low
For me to try to be a sly Lothario.
I think I’ll crawl right back and into my shell,
Dwelling in my personal hell.
I’ll have to change my plan around.
I’ve lost the one girl I found.

By Howard Dietz, The Little Show

maverick muse on August 12, 2008 at 3:51 PM