Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign

Heather Allen reviews Shattered, by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes

I keep saying I have heard enough about Donald Trump and the U.S. election, but I’m still compelled to read news stories about what is happening south of the border. I’ve tried to dissect why I can’t turn my eyes away – I know it’s more than the need to stay informed.

It’s a morbid curiosity, fear of what international disaster the president might cause, and a hope that the gaffe will be so bad that he will have to be removed from office. And, mostly, I’ve just been trying to wrap my head around how a country elected this president. To find answers, I cracked open Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign.

Only six months after the election, the duo of Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes have published their insider look into the Hillary Clinton campaign. According to Allen and Parnes, the campaign starts to go wrong almost immediately. It is disorganized, focused on squeezing out other candidates, and has far too many experts vying for their own gain, rather than achieving a win for Clinton.

Clinton hired the best of the best. But, as most people know, a group of superstars doesn’t always equal a good team. Even the hiring of her campaign staff suggests that Clinton simply may not know how to be a great leader.

I watched a Ted Talk recently on what it takes to be a successful leader. The main message was that you can only get people to follow you if you tell them why you are doing something. You don’t start with what you will do, or how you will do it.

If that Ted Talk is correct, Clinton really was doomed. After all, Clinton is a policy wonk. She loves talking about what she’d do to fix the country. She doesn’t ever say much about why. Allen and Parnes suggest that Clinton really never figured out an answer to that question, let alone transmit it to others. She asks of the crowds: “Why aren’t they with me?”

Although I learned much about the ins and outs of the campaign, I was bored by long passages filled with lists of names of staff and insiders, strangely coupled with other passages that seemed to rely a bit heavily on unnamed sources. Like the campaign itself, I was looking for more of an examination of why, rather than a blow-by-blow description of what happened.

The book I really wanted to read was: The American People: Inside a Doomed Mindset. But that one doesn’t exist yet. I much preferred a recent article in the New Yorker Magazine by Adam Gopnik called We could have been Canada, which details how, without the American Revolution, the United States could have been more like other Commonwealth countries. If this latest election wasn’t enough, both this article and Shattered will put to rest the claim that Canada and the United States are essentially the same.

Please stop me before I decide to pick up the latest election book out this week, The Case for Impeachment by Professor Allan Lichtman, who has predicted the outcome of the last few decades of presidential elections. Enough already.

Heather Allen is a writer and reader who lives in Penticton. allenh@telus.net.