The secret lessons emerge from Campaign 2016

Summary: The Democrats continue to agonize over why they lost in 2016 to Trump. Now books come out with answers. But also tell dark truths about our political system. Their insights can help us do better in 2020. But only if we put them to work – soon.

Ready for Hillary

From across the sea, retired Brit diplomat Craig Murray gives a perfect summary of why Hillary lost. She had some good breaks and bad breaks, but her own flaws led to defeat by one of the weakest presidential candidates run by a major US party, ever.

“Hillary Clinton lost because she was an appalling candidate. A multi-millionaire, neo-con warmonger with the warmth and empathy of a three week dead haddock and an eye for the interests of Wall Street, who regarded ordinary voters as “deplorables” (a term she used not just once, but frequently at fund-raisers with the mega-wealthy). Hillary Clinton conspired with the machine that was supposed to be neutrally running the primaries, to fix the primaries against Bernie Sanders. The opinion polls regularly showed that Sanders would beat Trump, and that the only Democratic candidate who Trump could beat was Clinton.

“Egomania and a massive sense of entitlement nevertheless led her not just to persist to get the candidacy, but persist to rig the candidacy. She then proceeded to ignore major urban working class battleground states in her campaign against Trump and focus on more glamorous places. In short, Hillary was corrupt rubbish.”

Chasing Hillary
Available at Amazon.

For an insider’s look at the campaign, turn to Chasing Hillary by Amy Chozick. She covered Campaign Clinton from the press bus. But first, an important note for those who believed that the major media fairly reported the election.

“Amy Chozick …confesses in her new book Chasing Hillary that she cried when she wrote about Clinton’s defeat, that she had been ‘an admirer …chasing this luminous figure’ since meeting Clinton as an awed child at a signing event for It Takes a Village, that she has dreams in which the two of them are buddies trying on clothes together at Zara, that ‘it felt damn good’ to ‘bask in the girl power’ when Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination, that a campaign video praising Clinton meant for the Democratic convention (but never used) ‘gave me the chills,’ that when she touched Clinton’s shoulder at a party she ‘felt the luscious satin of her chartreuse tunic beneath my palm,’ and that she thought Clinton’s email scandal was no more a matter of national interest than Bristol Palin’s pregnancy had been.

“Chozick sounds like Peter Daou or any other Clinton crony when she excoriates voters who say, ‘They’d vote for a woman, just not THAT woman. …I wanted to scream at every critic that thirty years of sexist attacks had turned her into that woman. That sooner or later, the higher we climb, the harder we work, we all become that woman.’

“With reporters like these, who needs flacks? …keep in mind that all of the above is just what Chozick is choosing to share with us while trying to preserve her credibility as a nonpartisan reporter. Chasing Hillary might as well be called Worshipping Hillary. …

“Chozick says that perhaps 18 out of 20 reporters on the Hillary beat on a typical day were women …{they} were excited about the prospect of what they dubbed the ‘FWP,’ for First Woman President.

“After Clinton’s defeat, these ‘Girls on the Bus’ were ‘in some stage of a breakdown . . . we comforted each other with pats on the shoulder’ because ‘hugs would have been too conspicuous.’”

She confessed those things with no apparent fear that it would tarnish her reputation as a journalist, or that the editors of the New York Times would fire her for malfeasance. She is probably correct on both counts. Americans are ignorant because we read the news.

Hillary Clinton on top

Excerpt from Chasing Hillary, published in Vanity Fair.

“As early as that January, we knew something was amiss with the Clinton campaign. Bernie packed an auditorium in Decorah, Iowa, telling the 2,300 people, “Today, the inevitable candidate doesn’t look quite so inevitable.” Hillary, meanwhile, spoke to 450 in the city’s Hotel Winneshiek ballroom, where the mostly over-65 set wore red T-shirts with the fighting words, Does Your Candidate Have a Plan for Social Security?”

Of course, readers of the “All the news that’s fit to print” New York Times didn’t learn this. Chozick’s stories make no mention of this telling event in Decorah. Instead she write glowing accounts of Hillary, such as “Hillary Clinton, Battling in Iowa, Turns Warm Under Pressure.” (25 January 2016).

“Hillary’s town halls became so frequent and intimate that they started to take on the familiar, if laborious, feel of catching up with an old girlfriend who cites G.D.P. statistics over brunch.”

Chozick then tells a story of stunning incompetence, with Hillary boring an audience in Clinton County with a long speech about DeWitt Clinton – history they probably learned in 6th grade.

“After the first couple of days, Hillary had relayed the story so many times that she started to mix up the details. …But even (or especially?) with the muddled details, the giant 3-D printer became emblematic of Hillary’s campaign style: she could be so pedantic in expressing her sincere optimism for the American worker that she either bored audiences or went over their heads entirely. On the bus, meanwhile, we were simultaneously tired of hearing about the 3-D printer and at a complete loss for anything better to talk about. …’Hillary won’t stop talking about that fucking 3-D printer.’ …

“About a week before the caucuses, at the end of an epically newsless bus swing, Demi Lovato performed ‘Confident’ on campus at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, the epicenter of the ‘Feel the Bern’ movement. She introduced Hillary, saying there wasn’t ‘a woman more confident than Hillary Clinton.’ (Telling the crowd the truth – that one of Hillary’s more endearing qualities is that, despite her successes, she is a heaping pile of insecurities – wouldn’t have played well.)”

Chozick did not write a word about Hillary’s “insecurities” during the campaign.

“I waded into the crowd afterward. I didn’t meet a single student who said they were supporting Hillary.”

Her article about this event neglected to mention that important fact: “Hillary Clinton, With Help From Demi Lovato, Treads on Bernie Sanders Turf in Iowa.

The Vanity Fair excerpt – and the book – are well worth reading in full. Material like this gives a better understanding of how our political system works – but does not work for us.

Trivia note about the author

Amy Chozick delayed having a child until after the campaign. Now, at age 38, she has a new born. See her story at Glamour. Now the one-time teary-eyed Hillary supporter cashes in with an 80 thousand word book trashing Clinton. Chelsea Clinton responds by attacking Chozick on Twitter (just as our President does). Details of this chick-fight here.

For More Information

See this article by Kyle Smith for more excerpts from Chozick’s book showing Hillary Clinton’s astonishing lack of political skills. If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about ways to reform America, about Campaign 2016, and especially these about the results of Campaign 2016…

  1. Breaking the myths about Campaign 2016, so we can prepare for 2020.
  2. Clinton lost because fear failed, and her SJW’s terrified voters.
  3. Clinton’s ads show her weak strategy: purely tribal, no content.
  4. Who won the election? Were the polls accurate? What lessons learned?

Another important book about Campaign 2016

"Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House" by Donna Brazile
Available at Amazon.

Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House by Donna Brazile. From the “publisher…

From Donna Brazile, former DNC chair and legendary political operative, an explosive and revealing new look at the 2016 election: the first insider account of the Russian hacking of the DNC and the missteps by the Clinton campaign and Obama administration that enabled a Trump victory.

“In the fallout of the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee – and as chaos threatened to consume the party’s convention – Democrats turned to a familiar figure to right the ship: Donna Brazile. Known to millions from her frequent TV appearances, she was no stranger to high stakes and dirty opponents, and the longtime Democratic strategist had a reputation in Washington as a one-stop shop for fixing sticky problems. …

“Packed with never-before-reported revelations about what went down in 2016, Hacks is equal parts campaign thriller, memoir, and roadmap for the future. With Democrats now in the wilderness after this historic defeat, Hacks argues that staying silent about what went wrong helps no one. Only by laying bare the missteps, miscalculations, and crimes of 2016, Brazile contends, will Americans be able to salvage their democracy.

18 thoughts on “The secret lessons emerge from Campaign 2016”

  1. Mandy been here a while

    Is there any media outlet read equally by those on the left and right currently? I could be wrong but it seems reporting is even more obvious partisan pandering than it ever was. The slow death of local newspapers in the Internet age is the likely cause.

    People seek out sources they already agree with to amplify their view. Both sides are guilty.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      That’s a great question. There are trade papers – such as the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal. And middlebrow papers, such as USA Today. And local papers, where there is usually just one paper — so everybody reads it.

      “reporting is even more obvious partisan pandering than it ever was.”

      The opposite is true. This is a return to the norm. For a fun look at the past, watch His Gal Friday. See the seen where the reporters file stories about the jailbreak. All nakedly partisan, all quite different spins.

      Jonathan Swift (1647-1745) – who was a professional political writer — read several papers each day, piecing together the different perspectives to gain a somewhat accurate understanding of events.

    2. I don’t remember if it was on this site or somewhere else I saw this number, but apparently, something like two thirds of all currently active journalists in the US are now permanently concentrated on the coasts, a recent evolution largely accelerated by the advent of the internet and especially social medias. A “rural exodus” of sorts, since the traditional local medias have closed shop at an ever accelerating pace.

      The current business model of traditional medias is one of the main reasons, if not the main one, for their evolution: hyper partisanship, click-baiting (by way of constant sensationalism and the overabuse of the “breaking news” mention, scandal and falsely manichean arguments, countless professional devices to mask the biases, false equivalencies and narrative-driven content), distortion and (sometimes very artful, sometimes less) disinformation are at the heart of said business model. This is mainly a response to the evolution of the recruitment pool, “produced” in ideologized disciplines in universities, but especially to the dwindling audiences. The choice has been made to capitalize on niche audiences, since reaching the public at large has become a dream for most companies: and niche audiences have to be catered to, preferably by the most shameless pandering to their confirmation bias. From recruitment to editorial decision (see Ed Schultz’s recent testimony about MSNBC’s pressures to blacklist everything Bernie Sanders during the primaries) to the choice of pundits/experts and political guests, everything is tailored for that single purpose of pandering.

      Add to that the money factor: as in other areas nowadays, audiences don’t pay, or pay very little, for what they consume. Subscriptions do not pay the fantastic salaries of prime time TV anchors, the ample staffs, the consultant fees of illimited numbers of guests (political or otherwise), the production costs, the occasional real journalists still gathering actual information here and there (a costly exercise today more trusted by press agencies and deals with other medias to “pool and share”)…. Advertising, direct sponsorship by large corporations (with very little commercial reasons to do so) and the now enormous and constant amounts of money from political parties, political operatives and multiple types of political organizations (how much for the 2016 campaign alone? I read that more than 5 billion dollars went to the TV advertising market, local and national), foot most of the bill. So here is another reason for the media being the way it is: he who pays the piper…. And it’s not the consumer/citizen. Or rather, the real consumer is not the citizen anymore. Corporations and political parties (or, more finely tuned, some factions of them) are, contributing to a more complete integration of the traditional media to the economical and political ecosystem some like to call “the swamp”, or the bubble (considering the now quasi systematic career paths of many people through politics, lobbying and “consultancies”, journalism and universities, and the active gatekeeping to regulate those careers according to factions interests, one may have a point).

      What are the audiences nowadays? I vaguely saw that the news prime time audience of the big networks was around 6 millions for the biggest one, and old and declining. For cable, MSNBC and Fox are in the lead with around 3 million viewers each in prime time. Both also have the oldest audiences on record (average age above 60), and one can easily guess that, for the most part, especially on the left:
      – audiences are hyper-concentrated on the coasts and a few big cities (so in places where their vote doesn’t really matter because they’re already very blue)
      – audiences are mostly made of already convinced voters coming to hear a sermon and have their biases and rage confirmed
      – even in absolute numbers, these audiences weight far less in the electorate than before. Quite often, many Youtube vloggers have comparable or bigger daily audiences (for a fraction of the cost).

      No media today gather a politically diverse audience here to gather facts that they will interpret in various ways afterwards: the interpretation is baked in the model, the conclusion pre-established, and the “facts”, real or not, are neatly selected to conform to editorial needs. Everything is engineered beforehand, including various events like town halls and citizens panels (as CNN recently demonstrated post Parkland shootings). Even if this has existed in other eras (to a lesser extant I would wager), the means and know how devoted to this kind of “news” is without precedent, and so is the scope of it (24/7 bombardment on multiple medias). The only respite resides in the citizenry’s behavior towards news gathering, and their flight from traditional medias…. Which may be why we are now seeing a widely publicized crackdown on new medias, and Facebook, Youtube and many others starting to play the politically oriented censorship game, to which traditional media’s channels seem strangely immune.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “The current business model of traditional medias is one of the main reasons”

        As I told Mandy, this is just a return to normal for the news media. It has been “hyper-partisan” for four centuries. The belief in a “neutral” norm was a temporary aberration. IMO the 20th century wars forced newspapers to follow the “approved” narratives. Dissent was not allowed. That was new, in the US and UK at least. During past wars — Napoleonic, 1812, the Civil War — papers were often against it. Not so in the 20th C.

        Now that those existential conflicts are behind us, the press returns to more of its usual role.

  2. What is interesting to me is that for the 2020 Presidential Election the Democrats have no one:

    Bernie Sanders
    Joe “#MeToo-allegation-in-waiting” Biden
    Kirsten Gillebrand
    Elizabeth Warren
    Kamala “Open Borders” Harris
    Sherrod Brown

    They’re going to lose.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      Good point! But an elderly and beleaguered Trump might be easy to defeat. On the other hand, my guess is that Pence would easily destroy anyone on that list.

      More important — US elections tend to turn on the economy in the previous 18 months IF it was unusually strong or weak. A 2019 or 2020 recession could transform the race. Remember 1992! The recession was light and ended in March 1991. But journalists ran articles thru Nov 1992 suggesting that it was horrific and still running. Hence Clinton’s “It’s the economy, stupid” helped propel him to victory.

      In 2020 journalists will go even more doomster for the Dems if the economy is weak. Americans will think it is the End Times.

    2. constrainedlocus

      “They’re going to lose.”

      Maybe, if there is a “blue wave” in November this year, and what we see afterwards is an extreme level of gridlock and aggression on the public stage (worse than now); that could terrify enough voters (fear of the radical SJW types….), and/or dissipate some of the halo that has been created around any “not Trump” candidate (which many democrats interpret as being an endorsement and a blank check for them) by simple universal loathing of the US president. The constant hammering and the demographic changes ought to have something of an effect, in conjunction with the possibly very high level of mobilization on the left side, and a blue victory in November could thus create enough of a republican reaction for 2020.

      Another factor against Trump is that the left can not produce another Hillary Clinton: I agree with many commentators I’ve read and heard that a good portion of the 2016 election was a referendum on HRC…. But with her out of the picture, only Trump remains, and even at the moment of his election, he was almost as loathed, or even a little bit more, than Clinton. Without a democratic candidate as prominent and unpopular as Clinton, and with the media’s help, the next election will be more a referendum on Trump than anything else. The culture wars matter enormously and partly trump the economic vote, and this is were the Democrats could still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory: by choosing and selling a Clinton-like candidate that would be propped up the same way, with all the media support in the world.

      Larry: “On the other hand, my guess is that Pence would easily destroy anyone on that list.”

      Do you see him really capable of that kind of electoral feat? Especially at a time when Republicans are doing their darnedest to lose some of their key electorates, notably white women and educated women, without which they can not win, however strongly the evangelicals manage to mobilize. I may be extremely biased, but he doesn’t strike me as the strong and inspirational leader type, and not really the kind that can convince that many voters to stop procrastinating and pass on his side. He could do it only if hugely helped by a truly deplorable and frighteningly ideological democratic candidate.

      But maybe it’s just my reaction to his absolute blandness and his very limited and debatable record in Indiana.

      “More important — US elections tend to turn on the economy in the previous 18 months IF it was unusually strong or weak. ”

      I’m curious: I listen to a lot of US commentators and all seem to agree, to an extent or another, that the culture wars have taken an important and ever-growing place over at least the last decade. Really significantly more than before. Does it seem, to you, an overstatement from a punditry that has a more natural bend towards those questions?

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “Do you see him really capable of that kind of electoral feat?”

        That’s not a relevant question. It’s like asking in 2014 “is Trump capable of that kind of electoral feat?” Elections are not tests of absolute electability, but relative strength. Pence has relatively few weaknesses. He has name recognition as a competent VP and creator of the “Pence Rule.” A good economy plus Democrat dysfunction w/b enough for him to destroy his dem opponents.

    3. Larry, Tancrede, The first inkling I had that Hillary was going to lose is when the local news started claiming that Hillary was within a few points of taking South Carolina. I work with people who were the swing voters that always seemed to vote Republican. They were adamantly against Hillary. She lost SC bigly. When Hillary started her “Not Trump” campaign near the end, I ended up thinking that this would be the first election in my 44 years of voting for US Presidents that a “Not the Other Guy” campaign would work. It didn’t. If the democrats rely on the “Not …” campaign then counting out any Republican who can also hold his Republican base would be unwise.

      Additionally, Sanders seems to be headed for either a third party run, or a run that will push the Dems even further leftward. Either can give a failing Republican opponent a new lease on a presidential run. Add that a “Not …” campaign tends not to bring enthusiastic actual swing voters, a Republican, or even a wounded Trump could win. 2300 versus 450, just what does the future for the Dems look like today?

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        If elected, Sanders would be 79 at inauguration. We’re a foolish people, but not that foolish.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “I would take one or two years of Bernie over four more of Trump or *shudder* four of a corporate Democrat.”

        First, there is no need for a choice between Trump and Sanders. That’s quite the false dilemma.

        Second, with a tottering geezer in the White House you have no idea who actually would be governing. I doubt it would be Sanders.

  3. Mandy been here a while

    Do you think the public is more aware of the bias now than in the past?

    I remember in the 90s being told newspapers made all their money through ad & classified revenues. The coins you put in the slot or subscription you paid were just the cherry on the top. Online news had not found a way to duplicate this business model . Not sure how long this will be sustainable.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “Do you think the public is more aware of the bias now than in the past?”

      No. Until the period after WWII people did not even have the concept of a “neutral press” as a concept. I doubt even people in asylums weren’t able to imagine it.

    2. Mandy:
      I grew up in England. Papers proudly announced their political leanings – it was part of their business model! Any assumption of neutrality was for your own sides views – the other guys are biased, not us.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        British papers have true diversity, compared to the US news media. As explained in this scene from “Yes, Minister”:

        Prime Minister Hacker: “Don’t tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers.

        • The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country;
        • The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country;
        • The Times is read by people who actually do run the country;
        • The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country;
        • The Financial Times is read by people who own the country;
        • The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country; and
        • The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.”

        Sir Humphrey: “Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?”

        Bernard: “Sun readers don’t care who runs the country, as long as she’s got big tits.”

  4. The Man Who Laughs

    So how do you lose all those working class voters in all those Blue Wall states that had been voting Dem since the New Deal? To quote Hemingway;s explanation of bankruptcy, slowly, then all at once. It took a lot of racial racketeering, countercultural nonsense, identity politics, tranny bathrooms, and condescending insults to lose those people, and then it only looked sudden. But it really wasn’t. The Deplorables comment was the last straw, but we’re really talking about a lot of straws. Hillary was a wretched candidate, but she was the end of the process, not the whole of it.

    Can the Democrats win back those voters who abandoned them for Trump. Oh hell yeah. Can Trump send them back to the Democrats without the Dems lifting a finger? He might just, although if I wouldn’t advise the Democrats to base their plans around it.

    I spend a lot of time in a college town run by Progressive loons, and I never saw a Hill Sticker or sign all year long. Not one. There were leftover Obama/Biden stickers on half the cars in town, but no Hillary stickers anywhere to be seen. If you got out in the country, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Trump sign.

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