One day, when Americans of stout heart rise up and declare themselves free of it, the 2016 election will be over, but … today is not that day, friends. While the minutiae and meaning of Donald Trump’s campaign continue to get dissected, the other campaign gets some attention in a new book from reporter Amy Chozick titled Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling.
The Daily Beast’s Gideon Resnick excerpts several passages from the book, none of which make Hillary Clinton sympathetic. For example, this recounting of her Election Night notification reminds everyone of both Hillary’s sense of entitlement and paranoia:
“Of all the Brooklyn aides, Jen Palmieri had the most pleasant bedside manner,” Chozick writes. “That made her the designated deliverer of bad news to Hillary. But not this time. She told Robby there was no way she was going to tell Hillary she couldn’t win. That’s when Robby, drained and deflated, watching the results with his team in a room down the hall from Hillary’s suite, labored into the hallway of the Peninsula to break the news. Hillary didn’t seem all that surprised. ‘I knew it. I knew this would happen to me….’ Hillary said, now within a couple of inches of his face. ‘They were never going to let me be president.’”
Who’s “they”? According to Chozick, Bill Clinton thought it was … the New York Times?
“After the election, Bill would spread a more absurd Times conspiracy: The publisher had struck a deal with Trump that we’d destroy Hillary on her emails to help him get elected, if he kept driving traffic and boosting the company’s stock price.”
The NYT did not exactly have a track record of promoting Donald Trump, either before his political career or during it. What makes this all the more remarkable is all of the machinations made by the Clintons and the DNC to ensure she got the 2016 nomination. They used the Clinton Foundation to employ key personnel and keep them handy for the cycle, while the DNC made sure to calculate all of its moves during the primaries for maximum Clinton advantage. Democratic fundraisers signed on early, locking out any serious potential challengers, a move that backfired when fringe independent Bernie Sanders took advantage of widespread dissatisfaction with the Clinton establishment and nearly upset her plans for a coronation.
Besides, if anyone outside the GOP promoted Trump, Chozick reports, it was Team Hillary:
“An agenda for an upcoming campaign meeting sent by [Campaign Manager] Robby Mook’s office asked, ‘How do we maximize Trump?’” Chozick writes, describing a time when the GOP primary was still crowded.
Even as Trump surged in the polls, the Clinton camp still saw him as a danger to stronger candidates rather than such a candidate in his own right, Chozick reports, so that in August 2015, “when the main GOP debate came on, everyone pushed their pizza crust aside and stared transfixed at the TV set… [Campaign Manager] Robby [Mook] salivated when the debate came back on and Trump started to speak. ‘Shhhhh,’ Robby said, practically pressing his nose up to the TV. ‘I’ve gahtz to get me some Trump.’ Robby thought Rubio would be the nominee. Podesta was bullish on Kasich. Bill and Hillary, still stuck in the 1990s, feared the Bush surname most of all.”
Be careful what you ask for, an old adage warns, you just might get it.
More than anything else in Resnick’s selection of excerpts, though, the elitist and entitled attitude that voters picked up so well from the candidate was a clear feature of the campaign. The “deplorables” remark was a case in point, Chozick reports, and explains that it was no mere ad-lib. Clinton and her team had repeatedly broken Trump supporters into three “baskets” in their internal discussions, between anti-Hillaryites, the economically depressed, and the you-know-whos. What’s more, Chozick adds, those comments always got a big laugh among the cognoscenti, at least until Hillary tried out the label in public:
“The Deplorables always got a laugh, over living-room chats in the Hamptons, at dinner parties under the stars on Martha’s Vineyard, over passed hors d’oeuvres in Beverly Hills, and during sunset cocktails in Silicon Valley,” Chozick continues.
And they wonder why middle America didn’t connect to the Clinton campaign! At least from the excerpts, Chozick makes the case that the real author of Hillary’s defeat is Hillary Clinton. But, of course, we knew that already, even if the Clintons and their supporters still don’t.
By the way, the Womyn Power message of the Hillary Clinton campaign apparently didn’t extend to Team Hillary itself, other than the candidate. The Washington Post provides a few excerpts about how Chozick describes her treatment at the hands of the campaign:
Sharper are the profiles of Clinton’s entourage, particularly the longtime male press aides whom Chozick never identifies by name but simply calls “The Guys.” The women around Hillary — such as Palmieri, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills — rate full names and attributed quotes, but the men are dubbed Brown Loafers Guy, Policy Guy, Hired Gun Guy, Outsider Guy and the loathsome Original Guy, “the longest-serving Svengali and the most-devoted member of Hillary’s court of flattering men.”
The Guys constantly mess with Chozick, magnifying her self-doubts. “I don’t care what you write because no one takes you seriously,” Outsider Guy says. They suggest that a Times colleague is leaking her story ideas to a competitor at Politico and that more-experienced reporters in her newsroom will steal away her assignment. (“C’mon, you really think they’ll keep you on the beat with Maggie there?”) They ask if there are any other Times reporters, preferably male, that they could talk to instead of her. “They’d gotten in my head, and I let them,” Chozick admits. The undercurrent of sexism spills over when Chozick and Original Guy spar over whether a prior conversation can go on the record, and he randomly paraphrases a crude line from “Thank You for Smoking,” a 2005 film in which a reporter sleeps with a lobbyist for information. “I didn’t know I had to say it was off the record when I was inside you,” Original Guy smirks. (“The words hung there,” Chozick recalls, “so grossly gynecological.”) …
“HAA exhibited generally creepy behavior, but seemed more pitiful and effeminate than threatening, which is why I tried to ignore his rubbing up and down my back,” Chozick writes. She does not name HAA in the book; more than a year after Trump’s inauguration, Chozick co-wrote a Times story about how Clinton kept spiritual adviser Burns Strider on the 2008 campaign despite repeated accusations of harassment by campaign staff.
It’s interesting that these stories came out after the election, too, rather than contemporaneously when voters could factor it into their decisions and the candidate held responsible for the hypocrisy. But that’s media criticism for another time.