Book of the week: A portrait of a cynical politician

Cover of Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed CampaignShattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign
by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes
Publish by Crown Publishing, £16.99
(Buy at Amazon)

This book opens with a telling story. It’s the day of Hillary Clinton’s announcement that she’s going to run for president. Although she’s essentially been running for office ever since Barack Obama was re-elected, she still hasn’t settled on a final version of her speech. It isn’t that the drafts her aides are coming up with are unsatisfactory; more that she just doesn’t know why she’s running.

Over the next 18 months, this lack of a motivation complicated what should have been an easy victory. As a result, it took a long time for her to dispose of a primary challenge from a self-styled socialist (one of the big taboos in US politics) and she ended up losing the solidly Democratic states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. She made other big mistakes along the way: staff infighting, an extreme reluctance to spend the millions at her disposal, and a campaign manager who ignored what the people on the ground were telling him, were also big factors.

What makes the book so damming is that the authors haven’t set out to write a hatchet job. In fact Allen and Parnes go out of their way to write a sympathetic account. They accept the Clinton team’s complaints about the impact of leaked emails and even argue that the “Access Hollywood” tapes, which revealed Trump’s sexism, were actually bad for Clinton, because they distracted people’s attention from Trump’s apparent endorsement of Russian hacking. Overall, the picture that emerges is one of a cynical, self-centred politician who didn’t care that much about her core voters, thus allowing an even bigger fraud to win the White House.