An in-depth dissection of Hillary Clinton’s second campaign for the presidency, a failure on many counts—except, of course, that of the popular vote.
Why did Clinton, arguably the most capable presidential candidate fielded by any of the parties, not take the White House? The reasons are many, and they combined in a perfect storm. At least that’s one takeaway from this readable, endlessly fascinating autopsy by Roll Call columnist Allen and The Hill White House correspondent Parnes, who co-authored HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton (2014). One spoiler was Bernie Sanders, who entered the race somewhat reluctantly as a Democrat. Another was that pesky business of email sent and received from a private server while Clinton was secretary of state, a matter that, Allen and Parnes note, bothered Barack Obama much more than he ever let on: “It was a classic unforced Clinton error, and he couldn’t believe that she and the people around her had let it happen.” It didn’t help that the director of the FBI raised the matter of the email just before the election, a move that could not help but cost her votes. Another was the choice of a vice presidential candidate who had all the personality of a brick, a choice dictated mostly by political calculus. Still another was the rising tide of screw-it populism that saw Donald Trump—the favorite of very few voters, as it turns out—into office and which Bill Clinton, by the authors’ account, correctly foretold in looking at the Brexit vote in the U.K. And why didn’t Bill, more popular after his presidency than just about any other executive, do more to pitch in and campaign for his wife? In part because, the authors write, Hillary wanted to avoid the perception that she was riding his coattails, while he wanted to keep face-saving distance just in case she lost.
A top-notch campaign examination. If, like so many others, you wonder what on earth happened in November 2016, this is all the explanation you need.