Leon Panetta: Clinton Campaign had no plan Posted by: McQ
on Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Dale and I have mentioned it on podcasts, you've seen it in articles and now Leon Panetta, a respected former Clinton White House chief of staff has confirmed it: the Clinton campaign expected a cake-walk nomination process which would be over by Super Tuesday.
Beyond that, apparently, they had no plan. Now Panetta gives various reasons why this is so (chief among them, in Panetta's opinion, being Mark Penn, Clinton's top campaign strategist), but in essence it comes down to a simple word - arrogance.
This is a campaign that expected to win and win early simply because of the political heft their candidate brought to the race. It was assumed that Hillary Clinton, wife of the beloved Bill Clinton, the president all Democrats have pined for over these past horrible 8 years, would be a shoo-in.
What they didn't anticipate is what happened. And when it happened they were caught flat-footed, put in a reactive mode, and clueless as to how to counter the candidacy of Obama.
They are now reduced to schizophrenic episodes of "I'm honored to be on the same stage" and "shame on you Barack Obama." It is not an impressive performance.
Josh Marshall has a little less damning look at the campaign and generalizes that perhaps what we see is just the normal look of campaigns who are losing or winning:
Name me the losing campaign that didn't suck and wasn't made up of complete imbeciles. And name me the winning campaign that wasn't run on a genius master plan. Winning looks like genius, a fact not easy to miss in various aspects of everyday life. And losing actually creates the reality of confusion and inconstancy in even more direct ways.
Disarray and lack of a plan are easy to avoid when you're winning. Because when you're winning, you just keep with the plan that's working. Losing campaigns, at a certain point, have little choice but to desperately flail between various new messages since obviously they need to move from what clearly isn't working to something that might. Same applies to staff shake ups.
Of course he's right, but he avoids the track record here. This Clinton campaign is, in many ways, simply an extention of the previous Clinton campaigns, albeit with a more difficult candidate, because Hillary Clinton doesn't have the charisma her husband has nor is she a natural politician. But, in my estimation, that isn't her problem. What Marshall misses and Panetta gets is there was no plan to win. Instead, if you can call it a plan, the Clinton campaign was prepared to accept victory after Super Tuesday. Beyond that, no strategy, no contingency, no nothing.
That is evident in the fact that it doesn't have a complete slate of delegates in PA (not that it will matter, she'd still get all the delegates to whom she is entitled if she wins) and didn't at all understand the nuances and intricacies (and absurdities) of the Texas primary/caucus vote, even after calling it a firewall.
Declaring the Clinton campaign a failure is, of course, premature, because any serious observer of the Clintons, and yes, I use the plural purposely, knows never to count them out, especially in something of this level of importance. But if the fat lady isn't singing, she is damn sure warming up. It will be an interesting postmortem when it is written. It will most likely include all the technical reasons the campaign faltered and then failed. But I think that single word noted earlier - arrogance - will end up being the central reason. And the final result of that central reason will be richly deserved.
The Bush Iraq War policy at least changed in significant way, finally, Hillary has not except some desperate swipes at Obama.
Hillary’s campaign looks like a bunch of people going through the motions who didn’t really care if Hillary became President. Maybe they want to leave the Clinton era to the past as much as the public does.
Of course he’s right, but he avoids the track record here. This Clinton campaign is, in many ways, simply an extention of the previous Clinton campaigns, albeit with a more difficult candidate, because Hillary Clinton doesn’t have the charisma her husband has nor is she a natural politician. But, in my estimation, that isn’t her problem. What Marshall misses and Panetta gets is there was no plan to win. Instead, if you can call it a plan, the Clinton campaign was prepared to accept victory after Super Tuesday. Beyond that, no strategy, no contingency, no nothing.
I’ll tell you, Bruce, what happened here is Clinton surrounded herslf with True Beleivers (tm) who never really understood... and may not yet... that Hillary has sky high negatives.... negatives that the polling data on the subject only scratches the surface of. It’s true, there was no plan. But given those negatives, and the mindsets involved, I have my doubts she ever had a chance at winning, anyway, even if Penn and Bolis had the smarts to recognize and deal with the negatives. Which, being true Beleivers in Hillary Clinton, they certainly did not.
Isn’t it an irony that Clinton’s level of planning for her campaign mirrors the Bush administration planning for the Iraq War?
I would say no to this. For all intents and purposes, we won the Iraq war, which would have been the equivalent of Hillary winning Super Tuesday. Where we went wrong in Iraq was having a plan for an insurgency. So for the analogy to work, Hillary would have had to have won on Super Tuesday, then faced a dogged and determined Obama on a daily basis, with no idea how to react.
It is amazing to watch things unravel for Hillary. And if it continues, I’m sure the fireworks are going to be ’real and SPECTACULAR!’. And oh, so fun to watch.