Decisions, Decisions
08-13-2008
You may have caught the buzz surrounding Joshua Green’s article on Hillary Clinton in the September issue of the Atlantic Monthly. Green has written previously on turmoil within the Clinton campaign, including an oft-cited piece in February 2008, in which he detailed the events leading up to the departure of campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle. But the new article is getting even more attention, in part because Green had access to (and has posted online) a treasure trove of leaked internal staff emails, memos and other communications from the primary campaign. While the piece documents the dysfunction among Clinton staff, and details the campaign's strategy for dealing with Barack Obama, what is getting the most attention is this surprising conclusion about Hillary Clinton:
 
Above all, this irony emerges: Clinton ran on the basis of managerial competence—on her capacity, as she liked to put it, to “do the job from Day One.” In fact, she never behaved like a chief executive, and her own staff proved to be her Achilles’ heel. What is clear from the internal documents is that Clinton’s loss derived not from any specific decision she made but rather from the preponderance of the many she did not make. Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.
 
Given the centrality of the managerial competence theme to Clinton’s campaign messaging, the idea that the candidate herself was paralyzed by an inability to make critical decisions is truly remarkable. All of this reminded me that way back in October 2007, I posted an item discussing why being an effective manager might not be sufficient to meet the threshold for presidential leadership set by many voters. Back then, I was writing at a time when Clinton’s inherent managerial capabilities were taken as a given by political observers. But now, the words of those closest to her have called that fundamental premise into serious question.

Comments:


Posted On: 08-14-2008 01:51:41 by Lynn Vavreck
Dean -- you knew I'd have something to add, right? I also like the recent Vanity Fair piece on Clinton's campaign. The most compelling part, I thought, was the quote by Panetta saying something to the effect that, Every now and then, the Clinton's like to hear from the dark side (the Morris side), because that is the only way to win, and losing is not in their vocabulary. . . Also unbelievable was the mention that the Clinton's are technophobes -- the former president still not having a PDA of any sort and not using email while in office -- at all. In response to Obama's command of the Internet, VF reports that a Clinton staffer said, "It's like 'VIRAL' or something ... " as if they had never heard the term. Yikes. And, don't even get me started on the National Enquirer!


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