The reason I wrote my book was to tell a piece of history. It was to set the record of events out for people to read and connect. The Hillary Effect gets another big boost from recent reporting that bolsters the case I make, which is backed up by the facts I offer.
“Change we can believe in” and other Obama slogans were mythmaking of the first order, which I prove, with character assassination the only weapon they thought could work when Obama got up against it. Because it wasn’t as if Hillary had an affair with Monica, or was responsible for NAFTA (it was proven conclusively she was against it), and Obama and Clinton had the same votes in the Senate on foreign policy (minus the Iran vote he ducked).
The reality from Lizza’s important article:
Another hard-edged decision helped make him the Democratic Presidential nominee. In early October, 2007, David Axelrod and Obama’s other political consultants wrote the candidate a memo explaining how he could repair his floundering campaign against Hillary Clinton. They advised him to attack her personally, presenting a difficult choice for Obama. He had spent years building a reputation as a reformer who deplored the nasty side of politics, and now, he was told, he had to put that aside. Obama’s strategists wrote that all campaign communications, even the slogan—“Change We Can Believe In”—had to emphasize distinctions with Clinton on character rather than on policy. The slogan “was intended to frame the argument along the character fault line, and this is where we can and must win this fight,” the memo said. “Clinton can’t be trusted or believed when it comes to change,” because “she’s driven by political calculation not conviction, regularly backing away and shifting positions… . She embodies trench warfare vs. Republicans, and is consumed with beating them rather than unifying the country and building consensus to get things done. She prides herself on working the system, not changing it.” The “current goal,” the memo continued, was to define Obama as “the only authentic ‘remedy’ to what ails Washington and stands in the way of progress.”
Obama’s message promised voters, in what his aides called “the inspiration,” that “Barack Obama will end the divisive trench warfare that treats politics as a game and will lead Americans to come together to restore our common purpose.” Clinton was too polarizing to get anything done: “It may not be her fault, but Americans have deeply divided feelings about Hillary Clinton, threatening a Democratic victory in 2008 and insuring another four years of the bitter political battles that have plagued Washington for the last two decades and stymied progress.”
Neera Tanden was the policy director for Clinton’s campaign. When Clinton lost the Democratic race, Tanden became the director of domestic policy for Obama’s general-election campaign, and then a senior official working on health care in his Administration. She is now the president of the liberal Center for American Progress, perhaps the most important institution in Democratic politics. “It was a character attack,” Tanden said recently, speaking about the Obama campaign against Clinton. “I went over to Obama, I’m a big supporter of the President, but their campaign was entirely a character attack on Hillary as a liar and untrustworthy. It wasn’t an ‘issue contrast,’ it was entirely personal.” And, of course, it worked.
The entire traditional, elite and many new media outlets sucked up the Axelrod theory with a straw. Put more bluntly, they picked a side.
The result is the disillusionment you have among many American voters who trusted the marketing message of “change we can believe in,” but also trusted the press, which was in collusion for one candidate over another, a scourge that continues to run through our media, especially on cable, but also in new media, where if you don’t pick a side readers can’t figure out what you’re saying. That’s how used to the partisan pabulum people have become. The case I make in my book lays it out in detail.
The Obama memo details from David Axelrod emphasize what Neera Tanden is quoted saying. The only way Barack Obama could beat her was a character assault on Hillary Rodham Clinton, even if her character was really not the issue. The issue was Barack Obama not having what it took on his own.
It’s nothing new under the political stars, but it is emphatically evident it was far from the preening, above it all persona the Obama campaign pushed.
The critical component remains the media who laid the groundwork, which I prove conclusively in my book, which covers close to 20 years.
This illustrates the importance of reporters in outlets like The New Yorker to history, people who get access to historic information to which independent authors aren’t privy. It’s a lot harder for people like myself to get heard, because I’m outside the establishment, so nuggets like what Rizza offers are critical.
The New Yorker has done something very important, for which I’m grateful, because I wrote a fair, fact based, true account of the most important political contest in modern history, from a point of view that had not been heard before.
The relevancy of The Hillary Effect has never been more real and now has one more piece of historical testimony to add to its truths.