Monday, May 26, 2008

Why Hillary Failed, Plus More Monty Python

I other day I posted a hilarious, well known Monty Python video, that's been recapitulated with Hillary Clinton's voice.

I missed this one last week, Dana Milbank fo the Washington Post, extends the Monty Python analogy in a new way. In This is an Ex-Candidate, he juxtaposes excerpts from a Monty Python skit with Hillary Clinton's surreal behavoir on the campaign trail (fake waving). It's quite a read.

First sign she is an ex-candidate:
Exhibit A: There are two press buses waiting at the hotel here for Clinton's trip to her victory rally in West Virginia, but the entire press contingent doesn't quite fill one. It isn't until the entourage arrives at Dulles Airport that Clinton aides learn that the second bus is still idling, empty, at the hotel.
Here's the part about the the fake wave:
A steep descent brings Clinton's plane to Charleston's hilltop airport. After an appropriate wait, she steps from the plane and pretends to wave to a crowd of supporters; in fact, she is waving to 10 photographers underneath the airplane's wing. She pretends to spot an old friend in the crowd, points and gives another wave; in fact, she is waving at an aide she had been talking with on the plane minutes earlier.
The whole column is devastating and makes her seem pathetic. Her money haul in April was pretty impressive (22M versus 31.3M for Obama), but, in my mind, given that she had not a mathematical chance after early March, immoral. What is she doing asking people to give her money, when she has not a chance to win AND that she's mismanaged her campaign so monumentally? Should average Americans be sending her two or three hundred dollars to feed her ego?

In a much read compilation of anonymous quotes What Went Wrong? from inside the Clinton campaign, assembled by Michelle Cottle and posted at The New Republic (and referred to by Maureen Dowd yesterday in Meet the Press), one Clinton campaign staffer said 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."
The other stand out quote was this (emphasis added):
"There was not any plan in place from beginning to end on how to win the nomination. It was, 'Win Iowa.' There was not the experience level, and, frankly, the management ability, to create a whole plan to get to the magical delegate number. That to me is the number one thing. It's starting from that point that every subsequent decision resulted. The decision to spend x amount in Iowa versus be prepared for February 5 and beyond. Or how much money to spend in South Carolina--where it was highly unlikely we were going to win--versus the decision not to fund certain other states. ... It was not as simple as, 'Oh, that's a caucus state, we're not going to play there.' That suggests a more serious thought process. It suggests a meeting where we went through all that."
And this lays it directly on Hillary Clinton herself:
"Hillary assembled a team thin on presidential campaign experience that confused discipline with insularity; they didn't know what they didn't know and were too arrogant to ask at a time early enough in the process when it could have made a difference..."
Read the whole thing. It's intriguing and revealing. Marc Ambinder did an excellent annotation of Cottle's piece in which he added his own insights. He's a political blogger over at The Atlantic. It's worth checking out too.

Last week when Ambinder reported that Hillary Clinton's former campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle was in discussions with the Obama campaign, my heart sunk. I thought of Josh Green's piece about her from back in February, which is an eye-opener, and which I wrote about here back in February, too.

Doyle reminded me of my first boss on Capitol Hill, who was a Congressman's wife unqualified for her job. Obama should keep Doyle away, in a galaxy far, far away.

Here are a few money quotes from Green's piece, Inside the Clinton Shake-Up.
As much as Clinton touts her own “executive experience” and judgment, she made Solis Doyle her campaign manager because of Solis Doyle’s loyalty, rather than her skill, despite a trail of available evidence suggesting she was unsuited for the role.
And about Doyle unpopularity among the campaign staff (yeah, my first boss watched soap operas at work too):
Solis Doyle was put in charge of fund-raising and later became campaign manager for Clinton’s Senate reelection bid in 2006. She earned a reputation as a contentious, domineering boss. Along the way, many of the staff members who worked under her left or were forced out, including several high-powered members of Clinton’s inner circle, such as Kelly Craighead and Evelyn Lieberman, the deputy chief of staff to Bill Clinton famous for banishing Monica Lewinsky to the Pentagon. The frequent turnover in the fund-raising shop was a significant measure of Solis Doyle’s unpopularity. Clinton staffers are notably loyal, and turnover among them tends to be much lower than it is among the staffs of other politicians. Fund-raising under Solis Doyle was a glaring exception, chalking up the kind of body count you’d expect from an episode of The Sopranos. She was infamous among her colleagues for referring to herself as “the queen bee” and for her habit of watching daytime soap operas in her office. One frequent complaint among donors and outside advisers was that Solis Doyle often did not return calls or demonstrate the attention required in her position.
Hillary has no one to blame but herself. Not the press, not misogynists, not the structure of the election (i.e. caucuses). Not even, as her husband claimed as recently as yesterday, disrespect. At the beginning of this process, Clinton's front runner status, poll numbers and money haul were evidence of the respect in which was held. The disrespect she now enjoys is a direct result of her own failures. She alone is responsible for the failure of her campaign.

Clinton's campaign: R.I.P.

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