I once wrote a column in praise of competence. The object of my admiration was Walter Mondale, then running for president against Ronald Reagan. The president’s message was that it was “morning again in America.” Mondale’s message was that he was competent. He lost 49 states. He was Hillary Clinton even before she was.
The comparison is apt — and sad. It came jumping out at me as I read “Shattered,” Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’s new account of how Clinton managed to lose to Donald Trump, a man for whom the word “competent” is about as fitting as “humble.” She did it, the two tell us, by assembling a huge and unwieldy campaign apparatus, by fixating on data and not, unfortunately, on retail politics, and by not being able to adequately explain her use of a private email server, a historically trivial matter that came to symbolize her failings as a politician. She seemed inaccessible.
But Clinton’s great failing, the book — not to mention the election itself — makes clear, was her inability to fashion a message. She knew why she was running for president: It was her turn. But she could not say that. She could not merely say that she was prepared, a walking briefing book. Policies coursed through her body like blood cells. She knew everything. She was, in the famous formulation of Isaiah Berlin, a fox. Trump was a hedgehog. He knew just one thing: why he wanted to be president.
Read more at The Washington Post