Review of Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign

The very first of what surely will not be the last books to survey the history-making 2016 Presidential election has hit the streets, and you will be hard-pressed to find a politico who hasn’t read it. Shattered has received much buzz, and for good reason – generally center-left (and very reasonable, fair-minded, good-faith) authors, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes decided to tell the public the truth about the 2016 election: Hillary Clinton lost the election because of, well, Hillary Clinton. The book has been described as “gripping” and “dramatic,” and to be honest, while I loved it and read it cover to cover rather quickly, I didn’t find the drama of the book all that compelling. What I found was authors who were willing to walk us through the reality of the Democratic campaign – a candidate haunted by her own paranoias and shortcomings, committing the fatal flaws so many candidates make (over-reliance on consultants, staff leaders at constant odds with one another, and trying to over-compensate for an inauthenticity problem with actions that underscore the inauthenticity). But many candidates make those mistakes, and many candidates win despite them. What Shattered does is reinforce the lack of message or vision or purpose behind the Hillary campaign, and the clear conclusion voters were supposed to have drawn (“vote for me, because it’s may damn turn”).

Readers will not miss out on the arrogance and tactical mistakes the campaign and candidate frequently made, but I am still not sure the book captured the essence behind the email scandal. While the book makes abundantly clear that the email scandal just wouldn”t go away, and that each aspect of it was handled atrociously by Hillary and her handlers, it didn’t feel to me that the book adequately captured the intersection of the email scandal with the Clinton Foundation scandal, which is, to me, the reason Hillary is not currently President. In other words, yes she had a trust issue around the email shadiness, and yes the Clinton Foundation issues looked bad, but I believe the voters connected the dots far better than people give them credit for (and more than the book did, at least directly): The email scandal was entirely about the Clinton foundation scandal – a direct and failed attempt to leave no electronic trail around her grifting. I found the book’s revelation fascinating that Hillary’s illumination as to the risk that electronic records posed for her came about from her own campaign’s using email records from 2008 to see which of her staffers had been loyal and which had been problematic (I guess if you know you can do something to others, you know others can do it to you). Sauce for the goose, as they say …

The 2016 campaign is not one any of us will forget any time soon, and the basic core unlikabiity and untrustworthiness of candidate Clinton is not something that needs further saturation. The authors here have done great work to record and archive with an insider’s view the campaign that was doomed from the start, and that ultimately became a victim of a totally bizarre populist rage in rust belt industrial white America, but more particularly, a victim of a candidate who the American people were tired of, didn’t trust, and who gave them no reason to feel or behave differently.