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Hillary and the messaging problem

Hillary and the messaging problem

It wasn’t just Hillary’s problem, either

Amidst all the discussion of the new book Shattered, describing the failed Hillary Clinton campaign, Rolling Stone author Matt Taibbi has written an article emphasizing Hillary’s failure to even know why she was running, and the inability of her campaign to convey any reason to the public:

“…a root problem that confounded everyone on the campaign and outside it,” they wrote…”[was that] Hillary had been running for president for almost a decade and still didn’t really have a rationale.”

Allen and Parnes here quoted a Clinton aide who jokingly summed up Clinton’s real motivation:

“I would have had a reason for running,” one of her top aides said, “or I wouldn’t have run.”…

Shattered is sourced almost entirely to figures inside the Clinton campaign who were and are deeply loyal to Clinton. Yet those sources tell of a campaign that spent nearly two years paralyzed by simple existential questions: Why are we running? What do we stand for?

And yet, were most people really puzzled as to why Clinton was running? No one I knew, Hillary supporters or not (and I knew plenty of both), seemed the least bit puzzled by the question. The answer was one, some, or all of the following, depending on the point of view of the observer:

—personal ambition
—to become the first woman president
—for Obama supporters, continuing the good parts of the Obama administration
—for certain others, being a bit more hawkish than Obama on foreign policy
—to defeat Donald Trump
—to appoint liberal SCOTUS justices
—because there was nobody else in the Democratic Party ready or able to run, except the far leftist Sanders

Those really aren’t such difficult to intuit or hard to understand reasons. Nor are most of them especially unique: for example, everyone knows that most candidates have a lot of personal ambition as motivator. Most run either for or against the policies of the previous president, and most try to present a contrast to their opponents.

And in fact, those reasons might have been more than enough without explaining further, had there not been other problems—big ones—with Hillary and her campaign. But Taibbi connects Hillary’s messaging/motivation problem to a messaging/motivation problem of the Democratic Party as a whole, particularly the Washington, DC contingent:

What Allen and Parnes captured in Shattered was a far more revealing portrait of the Democratic Party intelligentsia than, say, the WikiLeaks dumps. And while the book is profoundly unflattering to Hillary Clinton, the problem it describes really has nothing to do with Secretary Clinton.

The real protagonist of this book is a Washington political establishment that has lost the ability to explain itself or its motives to people outside the Beltway…

Shattered is what happens when political parties become too disconnected from their voters. Even if you think the election was stolen, any Democrat who reads this book will come away believing he or she belongs to a party stuck in a profound identity crisis. Trump or no Trump, the Democrats need therapy – and soon.

During the Obama administration, everything was blamed on a messaging problem, an inability to communicate, an inability to describe various things properly to voters (for example, Obamacare). The administration blamed miscommunication, and the media blamed miscommunication. Neither ever said that it wasn’t communication skills that were lacking, it was the message itself—and far more than the message, the administration’s actions and their consequences in the real world.

I happen to think that propaganda and messaging matter, but that they don’t matter nearly as much as results do. I happen to think that the majority of people can’t be fooled most of the time (and certainly not all of the time), and that after a short grace period you’d better deliver more than a pretty message if you want to reach them.

One of Trump’s great skills during the campaign was the ability to speak directly—and apparently extemporaneously—to the people. It’s one of the things that made him a populist. But what helped his election most was probably the idea that he would do things very, very differently. And what will make or break his presidency is what he delivers or fails to deliver. So far he’s hit the ground running.

It would be far more threatening for Democrats to seriously contemplate not their messaging problems, but what they have actually failed to deliver, and why. Hint, hint: that failure isn’t just a deficient message or slogan.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]

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Comments

She ran because “it was her turn”.

healthguyfsu | April 21, 2017 at 9:07 pm

The Democrats have a hard time energizing their base using rational, sound logic (listen carefully and you’ll hear the idiocrats making fart noises and droning out “boooring”)

I think for the next couple elections they will have more marches, protests, riots and other angry bitchfests to energize the base. That’s what they run on.

    jeffweimer in reply to healthguyfsu. | April 21, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    I subscribed to dKos email alerts, and they are *devoid* of anything resembling rational argument. It’s all emotional triggers for the issue’s talking points.

    That is exactly the point Ann Coulter is shouting out in her latest campaign to be heard at Berkeley. I was listening to her on Hannity yesterday arguing that liberals have so lost the ability to debate that they don’t even allow debate. One of her messages to students is that the universities are actually hurting them by denying them to opportunity to think and argue. They are taught that disagreeing with liberalism is offensive and that they should be protected from it.

    “The Onion” should add an updated version of “Point – Counterpoint” where both sides agree but fight it out anyway to determine who is more passionate and “real” about whatever it is they forgot they were debating.

From what I’ve read (and I am sure I’ll never buy the book to find out for sure) this book is a pro-Clinton pro-Obama propaganda piece. It reinforces all the aspects of the “Trump cheated” meme that are being discredited by the real evidence being uncovered now.

The “juicy details” are just enough to flesh out and humanize that story.

Propaganda, of the usual sort. Pretending to be a hit piece on Hillary.

    puhiawa in reply to artichoke. | April 22, 2017 at 1:03 am

    Slightly different. It is a pro Obama piece designed to tell the Marching Morons that the plan was perfect, just not the chosen candidate.
    Just like every other socialist/liberal experiment on society. The plan and goal are perfect, but the person trusted must now be destroyed because it did not work and they could not cover up the failure.

So a corrupt, incompetent, shrill harpy can’t get her public image to look honest, competent and loving, and the reason for this is (of course) Evil Republicans.

Summarized Hillary’s after-action blame game right there.

Just think how much money Clinton could have collected in donations to her slush fund/foundation if she was President. That’s the reason.

Clinton didn’t have a messaging problem; she got a message across loud and clear. The only problem is that it wasn’t a message she wanted to send.

The message? That Clinton was unfit to hold any position of responsibility whatsoever.

The problem is the direction the democrats have been going is no longer acceptable to most Americans. The only reason Trump did not win even more bigly is the some people are disturbed by his demeanor.

Scott Adams says Trump won the election during the second debate, the one he lost. He had to lose in order to shed the megalomania image. I find it significant that Adams made this observation immediately after the debate, long before the election.

Trump’s policies and actions continue to have a higher approval rating than the person. That’s the real problem for the democrats. Now that the weeds have been cleared, the winning policies are visible to others.

    puhiawa in reply to Petrushka. | April 22, 2017 at 1:00 am

    But it is acceptable to immigrants who wish not to be Americans, blacks who have learned to hate Americans, the academic left and their brainless students, and the latter include the MSM, easily the dumbest people on earth.

riverlife_callie | April 22, 2017 at 12:01 am

This article in Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi is schadenfreude-ilicious. Especially the comments by mostly Democrat supporters. When your own party base hates you almost as much as the opposition, it’s not hard to figure out why Hillary lost.

    Tom Servo in reply to riverlife_callie. | April 22, 2017 at 12:14 am

    I think the best lines in the entire article are these:

    “Our own voters “largely” don’t think your real reason for running for president is evil qualified as good news in this book. The book is filled with similar scenes of brutal unintentional comedy.”

Hillary has wanted to be president since before her husband ran. She truly believes she is the most intelligent person on earth and can’t understand that, lacking likability or any discernible political skills, one can’t surmount that little hump of actually getting elected.
She wants – indeed is starving for political power – and must be bitter and frustrated to a level of few could comprehend.
Her story would make one dandy Shakespeare play or grand opera.

    Mike H. in reply to dcnrmn. | April 22, 2017 at 12:39 am

    She wanted personal power but she also wanted institutional power for the team. You don’t get investigated if you’re still in charge after the term.

For those of us over 40, we have seen the ups and downs of hillary and there aren’t many if any ups. She got a lot of publicity but when the veneer was peeled back there was nothing there. She lied so frequently that she was basically unbelievable. When she was exposed making big mistakes she at first would lie and then blame someone else. This has been her MO since I was aware of her.
She has broken so many laws that it would be hard to number all of them. She has no respect for the law and it has been shown many times. Her firing of all of the WH employees of the travel office was pure greed. She used IRS and FBI files against her’s and bill’s adversaries. She showed no compassion for the Benghazi victims and was annoyed that she had to answer for it. Her total lack of any consideration for the national security laws was evident with her e-mail scandal and the way she allowed underlings to handle top secret and above documents. Any observer can see that she hasn’t a responsible bone in her body. How could any sane person have voted for her?

Sam in Texas | April 22, 2017 at 1:42 am

Slick Clinton’s wife ran for President to be President. That’s it. That’s all.

She knew why she was running. She just couldn’t say that it was to keep Clinton Inc going.

Freddie Sykes | April 22, 2017 at 6:22 am

“Take away that pudding – it has no theme.”
Winston Churchill

The annoying overused phrase “perfect storm” describes the hole the Democrats are in. A ridiculous party, under assault from a primitive “More Free Stuff Now!” perversion of Marxism, and running a personally and professionally unattractive candidate for election—what’s not to like?

During the Obama era, the Dems became America’s official Silly Party. Not just weird, not just criminal, not just socialist, not just totalitarian control-freak nasty, but total flip-city. I suspect that Obama posing as the champion of utter silliness such as the tranny potty movement made all but the most dedicated (i.e., most looney) Liberals realize that the Dems are simply a party which adults really, really can’t vote for. The “fundamental transformation” of Obama’s America wasn’t into a Mussolinian paradise of government control of all the untidy aspects of society; it was a trip to the Bizarro Planet.

So how to dig out of this hole? It won’t be easy, when the Party is hemmed in by a populist wing which has already dropped the mask of sanity and is hot to go full-boat Communist, led by a whacky old coot whose performance as a political manager makes even Hillary’s look sterling.

I don’t know what path the Democrats will try to thread between outright social madness and a weird mutation of Marxism, but it will take a far more skillful politician than a serial loser like Hillary. Or, for that matter, a sniveling rat like Schumer, or a malignant spider like Soros.

Her “rationale” is simple: You can’t sell influence if you have no influence to sell!

Obama was destined to become the new Democrat Power-broker for years-to-come unless and until Granny offered a “better” – read as: closer to power – alternative.

The Clinton RICO Cartel was already out of the circle when she got tossed as SoS. The Cartel’s only path back into the money pit was the one she truly believed she was due: the Presidency.

Of course, that could never be admitted to, but it was glaringly obvious since she had no other explanation for her campaign.

What’s the over/under for the revisionist movie starring Meryl Streep? I’d say five years.

i got her message loud & clear.

which is why i voted for Trump.

JackRussellTerrierist | April 23, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Her lies were insultingly obvious. I know plenty of ‘rats who stayed home. They wouldn’t vote ‘pub, but they weren’t going to vote for her, either. Like most emotion-driven ‘rats, their reason was usually, “I just don’t like her.”

Thank gawd that was their lone, dumb criterion.

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