Jon Allen is an English folk rock singer-songwriter born in Winchester, currently living in London. His debut album Dead Man's Suit was released on 1 June 2009 on Monologue Records.
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Hi, I'm Jon Allen, co-author of the New York Times bestselling books "Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign" and "HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton." When I'm not writing books—and when I am writing them—I am head of community and content for Sidewire (where we just released Current, a place for you to subscribe to your favorite experts to get their analysis before anyone else), a columnist at Roll Call, and an award-winning journalist.
Here's my proof: http://imgur.com/7pcaNSW
Hi Jon, thanks for taking time for this AMA. What Clinton conspiracy would you like to debunk?
She didn't kill anyone. She's not in a relationship with Huma Abedin. She didn't set up a private email server so that she could leak to the press or share classified information with people who shouldn't have had access to it. Pizzagate is disgusting.
What did you think of the slogan "I'm with her" ? Personally, I couldn't believe it. I thought it was the single worst campaign slogan I had ever heard. Did Hillary personally approve this or was she just going along with what her campaign advisors said would work?
It would be hard to find a slogan that did more to reinforce a negative perception of a candidate. It told voters the campaign was about her. Amie and I report in "Shattered" that Bernie Sanders refused to say it when he cut an ad for her (one that her campaign never broadcast). He told his consultant it was "so phony" that he couldn't bring himself to say it. So, yeah, I think your diagnosis is right. If she didn't like it, it wouldn't have stuck around.
Hi, Jon, one thing I never understood was why Hillary's campaign was run like it was the 1990s? Nothing she said seemed based on the realities of 2016, like saying out loud that she was going to put her husband in charge of the economy! They just never seemed to read the room - from fracking to raising the minimum wage to the public's clear demand for straight, non-parsed answers.
My question is this: did that bubble mentality emanate from Hillary herself or the campaign strategists?
Clinton was definitely in a hardened bubble and unable to really react or predict the evolution of the electorate. So, I think it emanated from her. But the Brooklyn staff didn't heed warnings from people on the ground in the states—or from Bill Clinton, who often had his knuckles rapped for saying things that were "off message" but in line with the feelings of swing voters in what turned out to be swing states. "Obamacare is the craziest thing," he said, in the kind of words a voter might use before turning to a few minor alterations that he thought could change that.
What do you believe was Hillary's biggest mistake in her campaign?
I think, in addition to the email server that was pre-campaign, the biggest mistake was not coming up with a reason why she was the right candidate for 2016. Some of her aides said they had trouble figuring out what her message was, and she confided to friends that she didn't really understand what was happening in the electorate.
Who do you see as the next Dem presidential candidate?
All of the above. I think everyone who's ever thought about running is at least leaving the door open—and, in some cases, they're opening doors right now. I don't think that will shake out for a while. One set that I find fascinating: Democrats from red states who wouldn't normally get the time of day. Mayors, like Buttigieg, Landrieu (my wife worked for his sister in the Senate, as a disclosure) et al. Maybe even House members. Democrats don't often look to red states for candidates, but I think some of those folks will get a chance to make their case in 2020.
Jon--Has Hillary accepted any of the blame for anything she's ever done in her life, yet, or is it still everyone else's fault?
There's still a lot of finger-pointing. She has said she is accountable for her campaign but not been specific about it. Rather, she's pivoted from that to blaming Russia, Jim Comey (who wouldn't have played a role without the email server or the Bill Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting), and even the DNC.
Do you believe the candidates' stances on money in politics played a significant role in the last election?
I certainly think Bernie Sanders benefited from his stance on money in politics as a contrast point to Clinton, who denounced Citizens United but took money from all available sources (both political money and personal money). And Trump's message that he couldn't be bought helped him make a contrast against Clinton on that score. So, in short, yes.
Why are you putting these experts behind a paywall in that new website?
These experts deserve to be compensated for their unique insights and knowledge. And the paywall helps separate the signals they're sending out from the noise that one can find anywhere.
> Is campaigning on Russia a mistake?
I think maybe they should wait until there is some hard evidence first, dont you?
Another point on this that I haven't done enough reporting/thinking on to own completely yet: It seemed that a pro-Russia line was politically unthinkable in the post-WWII era. But there are elements on both the left and the right that at least tolerate Russia now and, in some cases, want to see the United States have a much stronger relationship with that country. That is, it's not clear to me how much strong ties to Russia, as a policy matter, are harmful to a candidate. Trump seemed to do just fine with it. The question of interference, or possible collusion, is a related but different one. I think if there were evidence of collusion, the public would not be on board with that.
Did no one inside the Clinton campaign seriously entertain the idea that they could potentially lose when Trump became the nominee? Or was EVERYONE, including the senior staff, confident that they were going to win
One of her longtime advisers sent a memo when it was clear that Trump would take the GOP nomination that said he could be the next president and laid out the argument for that. One of the bullet points: Add three or four points to his performance in any poll. But the campaign ignored what it considered unscientific musings. At different points during the campaign, there was more or less concern, but they all went into election day confident that she would win.
How would you describe Hillary's relationship with Obama?
Shotgun marriage that improved over time. They're so different, and I think they respect each other. But they're so different.
Where do you think the democratic party goes from here? Do you think they get successfully pushed to the left, or are they going to campaign on Russia and make a lot of the same mistakes? I am curious on your take of the future of the dems.
It doesn't make sense to campaign on Russia right now because there are federal investigators (both Mueller and the intel committees in Congress) who are doing that work for them. I think the Democratic Party doesn't really exist in the way that it did before the combination of McCain-Feingold, which killed soft money, and the Citizens United batch of Supreme Court decisions that empowered outside groups. Who is the leader of the Democratic Party? Tough question to answer. I'd submit that it's no one right now.
Isn't it legitimate for Russia to interefere when Clinton basically thretened them with a war over Syria? Are they supposed to just let the war happen?
I don't believe that the United States should gauge its foreign and national security policy by such a standard. America should protect its physical and electoral security without regard to whether Russia doesn't like our policies.
As a guy don't really know much about politics, what make politics so interesting to you?
I'm also a baseball obsessive (I played Division III college ball for a couple of years, but I'm a much better fan than a player), and I liken politics to baseball in this way: In an election, like a ballgame, there are a very limited set of outcomes; but there are an infinite number of ways to get to them. I'm fascinated by how the stories unfold. There's a lot at stake in an election—or in the political battles of legislating and policymaking in Washington—so, it's serious stuff. I hope I'm able to learn things about the decision-making and share them with the people affected by the decisions.
How much of a chance is there for a viable third party to emerge? In particular the Libertarian Party seems to be making some progress and maybe the Green Party to a lesser extent.
I think it's tough for that to happen in a country that has been stabilized by a two-party system over the course of its history. That is, it's hard to make radical change, for good and ill. But if ever there were an opening, now is the time. The two parties are weaker than they have been at any time in my lifetime, and there is so much opportunity for outside groups (or other parties) to influence who wins and which policies are enacted and defeated.
What was the moment on election night when she realized she was in trouble?
Amie Parnes and I go into this in great detail in Shattered—the unfolding of election night. The truth is that when her team saw what was happening in Florida, the feeling quickly changed from confidence to thinking that the results there could be echoed in a lot of other states. So, it was more of a change from a confident state to one of being behind the eight ball and the slow realization that the results were, in fact, being repeated in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Personally, which candidate did you back in the 2016 presidential election?
I don't talk about who I vote for (with the exception of having written in the Washington Post's Paul Kane for an office in the District of Columbia).
Hi Jon, I've still yet to read this book, but I've heard some very interesting things about its content. I seem to remember something about Bill angrily blaming staffers for the loss on election night, along with some moments where Hillary was rather ruthless to staffers over something out of their control.
My question: What do you think about the Clintons recent public statements that seem to shift blame on staff rather than themselves? Is this consistent with their conduct during and immediately after the 2016 campaign?
It's very consistent. On election night, they were talking about Russians, Comey and Brexit. And she kept talking about the Russians and Comey to friends in the days after the election. We report that the narrative was set within 24 hours of her defeat, and we've seen that play out. That's not to say that neither Russia nor Comey affected the election, just that there were a number of other factors—Amie and I argue bigger factors—that put Clinton in a position to lose and Trump in a position to win.
Just how poor is Hillary Clinton's health?
I don't have any more information than you do on the state of her health. She was obviously able to sit in the Benghazi hearing for half a day, campaign for a year and a half and perform at a high level during the debates. So, I'd say the evidence is that her mental agility is strong. Plus, playing doctor on Reddit seems like a terrible idea.
How influential was Bill Clinton in shaping the campaign? I guess I hear a lot about Hillary pointing fingers at Comey, the DNC, Russia, or other factors in her defeat but I'm wondering about Bill's influence behind the scenes (a major advisor versus being more or less hands-off)
There's obviously a kind of grayscale of influence for anyone involved in a campaign. Amie and I report in the book that Bill Clinton felt like he'd shouldered too much of the blame for her 2008 campaign, and there was a perception that he had been too heavy-handed in working the staff that year. This time, he didn't want to be responsible for a loss and he was respectful of the roles his wife wanted her aides to play. So, you could say he was much more hands-off this time. That doesn't mean he faded into the backdrop. He made his views known, particularly about the need to try to persuade swing voters rather than just trying to turn out base Democrats, and about putting boots and literature on the ground in key states, but he did not force his views on the people making decisions. And it's not clear that Hillary Clinton would have let him do that.
Do you think Hillary was the principal strategist of her campaign (message, strategy, appeals to certain demographics) or was she just a candidate built by committee? During your time with the campaign, did Hillary seems to make her own strategies or was she just always listening to what others told her would be the right decision to follow through?
Ultimately, she's responsible for the direction of the campaign, but she wanted the professionals she'd hired to shape it. I don't think that's very different than other candidates in most areas (I mean, none of them are data analysts). But the one key difference is this: Other candidates set the mission for the campaign with their overall message. Donald Trump presented a new nationalism into which most of his policies could easily fit. Bernie Sanders wanted to take money and power from the few and distribute them more evenly. It was easy for the people working for them, and for voters, to understand what the campaign was about for the American public. That wasn't the case with Hillary Clinton's campaign. She never set that mission.
Given your comments that her husband seemed more in touch with the electorate - are the two of them really not that close? He was always a more gifted, charismatic orator that was able to connect with people - why does it seem like she ignored him? Was he outside the campaign strategy and only brought in as a prop when they needed him?
He's certainly a better natural politician, and I think she listened to him at times. But she stuck with the idea that evidence from her data team should guide her strategy and tactics. Bill Clinton had a different approach, and she largely sided with the folks she'd hired.
Why didn't Hillary's campaign bring Bernie in to the fold? Maybe not as a full on VP, but she seemed to kill his momentum and walk away from it instead of harnessing it in any real way.
^^edit: ^^harnessing, ^^not ^^harassing
That's a great question. After the primary, she didn't want to have anything to do with him, and I think that was evident to his most ardent supporters.
Do you think if Biden had run that Clinton would have escaped the primary? How afraid was Clinton that he would enter the race? It seems like he would have been a much better candidate to speak to Rust belt voters. Clinton was always a very polarizing candidate regardless of who she would end up running against. How blinded was she about her own public perception?
We write about this a lot early in the book. Clinton was definitely afraid that Biden would get in and shake up the dynamics of the race. He had the capacity to win people of color that Bernie was not connecting with and to engage working-class white voters. As for her perception of the way she was perceived, Amie and I have a scene in which she's talking to an aide a couple of days before the election and says something to the effect of: I know I bring out the worst in some poeple. I don't know why that is, but it is. The aide replies that it will be worse when she's in the White House. And she says she knows. Telling both on her perception of the degree to which some of the voting public disliked her and the fact that she thought she was going to win.
Who is the Hunter S Thompson of Washington these days? What do you think he would make of Trump?
Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone has some of that Hunter S Thompson flair. I think he would enjoy covering Trump. He could make mountainous characters out of molehill politicians, so Trump would be the ultimate profile subject.
How much control do the Clintons and their allies have over the Democratic Party? How difficult would it be for new currents, i.e. the progressive liberals and social democrats who backed Bernie Sanders in 2016, to gain a position of power within the Democratic Party? How willing or unwilling do think the current DNC establishment is with regards to allowing new poles of power outside of the traditional power brokers?
They don't have control over the Democratic Party. No one does right now. As for the progressives, I'm not sure that taking over the Democratic Party is necessarily all it's cracked up to be. It's a weakened institution. But the Clintons' influence is waning. For 25 years, there was the promise of reward or the the threat of potential retribution to use as tools for influence. But without holding an office, or the prospect of holding an office, that influence has diminished.
Thanks for the reply!
Follow up question: do you have any good examples of how, prior to 2016, the Clintons' blocked off potential challengers? I've heard about the way they took down people who didn't back Clinton during the 2008 election (which I believe you've written about?), but what about before that?
I'd have to do a little research to go back to the Clinton presidency and see who got support and who didn't. But after 2008, Bill Clinton campaigned in primaries for a series of Democratic candidates who had backed Hillary Clinton and against those the Clintons felt had betrayed them. WJC, for example, helped Brad Sherman against Howard Berman, Bill Pascrell against Steve Rothman, Kathleen Kane against Patrick Murphy, and Mark Critz against Jason Altmire. Amie and I write about that dynamic extensively in "HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton." One Democrat told us at the time that it was creating a chilling effect within the party because elected officials knew that there was a cost associated with being seen as anything but loyal to the Clintons.
Why did she choose Tim Kaine for the VP instead of someone more progressive and seek advice from people like Henry kissenger? Do you feel like I do, thst this turned off a lot of left of center voters?
It's amazing to me that the campaign staff was running a base campaign and the candidate picked someone seen as a moderate as the vice presidential nominee. But I think that ultimately shows one thing: The VP pick was Hillary Clinton's, and Hillary Clinton's alone. Amie and I report in Shattered that she was unhappy with her short list before she made the decision and that Elizabeth Warren got a long look before Clinton decided she couldn't fully trust Warren as a governing partner. Another possible mistake: Sherrod Brown was excluded because there was concern about his Senate seat turning over to a Republican. Bet Democrats would trade that Senate seat for the presidency right now.
Hi Jon. You talked about the relationship between Barack Obama and Hillary. What is the relationship like between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton? Is there any animosity there?
Do the Clintons blame Obama for the loss to Trump? If so, what do they think he did wrong?
In the weeks after the election, she came to believe that Obama didn't do enough to let the public know about the extent to which Russia was attempting to interfere in the election ... I don't think there's a lot of love lost between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton (or that they'll spend a lot of time vacationing together). Bill Clinton did what he had to do for Obama to ensure that Obama's donors would pay off Hillary Clinton's campaign debts—and a little more in terms of the 2012 Democratic convention speech. And Obama did what he needed to do to show preference for Hillary Clinton in 2016. It was a political partnership between the two presidents.
Do you think the problem was she had no message/reason, or that she couldn't state her real reason (is "Because I want it and it is owed to me")
A lot of voters concluded it was more about her than about them—even some who voted for her.
She didn't kill anyone? What about the thousands of Libyans that have died as a result of NATO's intervention, subsequent war crimes and the instability that has followed? Say what you want about Gaddafi, but modern Libya is a post-apocalyptic hellhole.
Libya is a disaster. It's hard to know how many would have died had Gaddafi been left in place. There were a lot of problems with the Libya mission, including but not limited to: American leaders convinced themselves and each other (and Clinton was at the center of it) that they could stand up a stable government in Libya; the U.S. didn't do what it would have taken to try to stabilize Libya; and it exposed the loopholes through which a president can conduct war without the explicit direction or assent of Congress.
Jon - I love Sidewire!
Who are your favorite sane and thoughtful commentators from conservative and progressive perspectives? (Not necessarily Sidewire contributors, but in general)
Thank you! Sidewire's an awesome platform and it's about to get better with the feeds readers can get from their favorite experts. Great question: It's impolitic of me to pick favorites among the Newsmakers, but I'll do it anyway. I think you have to listen to anything Josh Holmes, former chief of staff to Mitch McConnell, says about what's going on in Congress. Ellen Tauscher, Jamie Kirchick and Tom Nichols are brilliant on national security policy. Lis Smith is one of the smartest Democratic strategists around—and, importantly, very funny. There's really a great cast of characters.
Oh, and I almost forgot: For the best quips, The Rick Wilson.
> I think if there were evidence of collusion, the public would not be on board with that.
I agree. And I dont want to make out like Trump is not a flawed candidate/president. He is. But I think it would be a mistake to bash him for having ties with Russia or China. We need these countries to help us make this a safer world in the end. Sarah Palin was roasted for not knowing anything about Russia and Trump is being roasted for doing business in Russia. So will the Democrats put forth a candidate who has some dealings with them or will they seek out someone who has zero? Either way they need to be careful or they will end up looking like petty hypocrites. That being said, if collusion is proven its a totally different story.
My sense is that it matters more what the approach is to these foreign countries than whether a candidate already has ties to them. Clinton had ties to practically every foreign country as the former secretary of State. Back in 2008, she thought it was a mistake for Obama to say he would meet with the leaders of nations considered to be bad actors, but it didn't prevent him from winning the primary or the general election. And he left office with a positive approval rating, despite the clamor against his Iran, Cuba and Russia policies (not to mention the extension of the Afghanistan war and the change in America's footing in Iraq).
The wackiest one I read was that she had a healthy body double when she had the case of pneumonia. Do you think these conspiracies and caricatures (oh SNL, House of cards) is what defined her than what Hillary was able to define herself? A human Rorschach test.
I do think she left a lot of space for others to define her.
Any news website you take at face value?
Yeah, I take most of what I read on MSM news websites at face value. but I read carefully and understand that it's my responsibility as a consumer to assess what's being reported based on its credibility and the evidence that the reporters present.
Robby Mook, has got a bit of blame for ignoring the midwest etc... Is it justified? Where did he come from to rise so quickly, and where can he go from here? What were his biggest mistakes?
Robby worked on Clinton's 2008 campaign and later for Obama. Then he was the top aide at the DCCC and ran Terry McAuliffe's campaign. Like HRC, he liked to pin his decisions to data an evidence. He treated the Midwest states as places where she was fine, but the data didn't end up reflecting what was really going on. He was getting warnings from people who didn't have data to back them up but instead had a feel for the ground (Bill Clinton, Rep. Debbie Dingell in Michigan, et al). Mook stopped doing tracking polling, relying instead solely on data analytics surveys at the end. It's not clear that polling would have shown anything different or helped guide different decisions, but it was a check that was not used. And he also decided that it was a fool's errand to spend a lot of money and man-hours on trying to persuade people to vote for Hillary. He preferred finding people who agreed with her and trying to get them to turn out to the polls. Was it impossible for her to persuade undecided voters or those who leaned against her? Some campaign aides argue that it was. Some went so far as to contend that she was better off not going to Rust Belt states because her presence would alert more potential voters that there was an election going on and that they would then come and vote against her.
I am not up on as much baseball as others, but I am fairly certain that that is a truly epic burn.
cough Libya cough
Are you talking about Libya broadly or Benghazi specifically?
Hey, Jon! I love your work and I love Shattered.
My question is - what do you think is the single biggest mistake(s) that the HRC campaign made?
For me, it's hiring DWS and not taking a stronger stance on DAPL, but I'm interested in what you think.
In the interest of disclosure, I briefly worked for Wasserman Schultz in 2010. So, I'll sidestep that part of the question (as awkward as I am at ballet). I really think it was the failure to make the case for why she should be president.
Did you come away from this thinking Hillary was a good, but flawed person? Or do you think that she is essentially the Democrats' answer to Richard Nixon?
Such dangerous territory! Perhaps it's a false choice. Presumes Nixon didn't have strengths as well as weaknesses. Maybe this will sound like bullshit (sure looks like it as I type it), but I do think people who subject themselves to the brutal personal challenge of running for office tend to want to help others—even if they lose sight of that along the way or have difficulty articulating it.
didn't even notice you were the author, sorry for the snarky reply! haha
Jon, why in the hell did they pick Tim Kaine over Warren for VP? Did the campaign seriously fail to recognize the ramifications of that choice?
Clinton focused on who she thought would be the best governing partner and do the least to disrupt what looked like a better-than-even chance of winning the presidency. There were some people internally who argued for Warren or another progressive (Brown had his supporters), and Clinton really gave Warren a look, but Kaine was the safe, establishment choice. It reflected who Hillary Clinton is.
do you think her foreign policy would have been as destructive and subversive as before, had she won?
I think her foreign policy would have been inherently different for two reasons: the world and its hot spots have changed since she was secretary, and, more important, she was executing (and informing) Obama's foreign policy, but it wasn't wholly her own.
Hi Jon. How will the Maryland Terrapins do in football and basketball this upcoming season?
I can tell from your handle that YOU'RE the expert on this one. My hope springs eternal that the football team will make a bowl game that doesn't sound like the toilet bowl and that the basketball team will make the tournament and catch fire. One of the saddest days every year (save, 2002) is when the Terps get eliminated from the tourney.
Do you let average readers ask the trivia question in STITCH? How many responses do you tend to get each day?
Good question. Anyone who signs up for the Stitch can answer the trivia question. Just this week, Gila Jones, who is not one of our Newsmaker experts, won the trivia contest. The number of answers ranges depending on the question: really tough ones can go unanswered and easier ones can get double-digit answers.
Oh, and whoever wins gets to ask the next day's trivia question. So, yes, readers can ask the question.
Who is your favourite Beatle?
McCartney, but I prefer the Rolling Stones (and The Kinks and The Who).
Hey Big Train, I heard you used to be a pitcher back in the day. How fast can you throw a baseball these days?
I'd fit in well with the Nationals bullpen.
What do you think of Jake Tapper's stance of not voting for candidates he covers? Do you think that's an effective way to reduce bias, or just some sort of objective posturing?
I've known reporters who take a variety of approaches to voting (only in races they're not covering, not at all, voting for every office for which they're eligible to cast a ballot). I'm fine with any and all of it. My personal feeling is that reporters are best off not revealing who they vote for, but that it's OK to exercise our rights as citizens. The key is not whether reporters have opinions or political leanings, but whether they report objectively. Even in the modern era, facts are facts. The closer reporters get to simply taking relevant information from a small number of people and giving it to the broader public, the more they are doing their jobs in a way that reflects creditably on the reporting, the reporter and the publication or TV outlet. And, as someone who has written news, analysis and opinion, I think we can all appreciate the difference between them.
Anyone on twitter whose political analysis/commentary you trust more than anyone?
I prefer the commentary and analysis I get on Sidewire ;) ... It depends on the subject. Here are some of the reporters I follow closely: Maggie Haberman, Phil Rucker, Jake Sherman, James Hohmann, Paul Kane, Del Wilber, Rich Rubin, Steve Dennis, Matt Fuller, AMIE PARNES. I think David Frum is a brilliant analyst. Matt Lewis. Greg Sargent. I like the op-ed guys from the NY tabloids (Seth Mandel and Josh Greenman). It's really a long list.
I'm struggling with how to ask this follow up question. It seems media organizations help form or clarify ideology for their consumers. And with large media companies, it seems this influence can affect our national unity. Does Sidewire (a platform for individual newsmakers from different media) have a role to play in "unity," especially in the wake of recent ideological violence from people identifying with both sides?
Our first mission is to have sophisticated and civilized discussion on the Internet. We looked at what was going on in other social media forums and thought there was a better way to put a spotlight on people with expertise and to foster constructive dialogue. It's tough to do that when every other thought is interrupted by hateful messages. Our Newsmaker community includes a wide range of ideologies but everyone is respectful of each other and, I find, very capable of engaging in intelligent commentary on the news. Additionally, we've built (I say 'we,' but it's really our incredible engineering team) a new way for readers to ask questions in our expert chats. The experts can decide whether to bring those questions into the chat. That is, if it's just some nasty insult, they can leave it alone. But if a reader has a thoughtful question or insight, the experts can bring it in.
> bigger factors
Can you discuss a few of them? Which ones are least discussed these days?
The email server story broke in March 2015, a month before she declared her candidacy, and stuck with her through the very end of the campaign. She didn't respond to it well and her trust ratings suffered mightily for it. The whole story reinforced the narrative that both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump pushed that she had something to hide.
The Wall Street speeches, delivered at a time of rising populism, fed a similar narrative and were a point of emphasis for those who believed she was hiding something and/or corrupt. And both of those (hiding something/corrupt) tie into a candidate's trustworthiness.
Both of those were unforced errors that hurt her throughout the campaign.
But the messaging failure—her inability to say why she should be president in a way that resonated as being about the public rather than herself—was the most important, according even to some of the people who worked for her. This was the second straight presidential campaign in which she struggled with that. "I would have had a reason for running," one of her senior aides told us, "or I wouldn't have run." Her strategy in the general election was to disqualify Trump, but she failed to make the positive case for herself. Something like one-fifth of his voters said they didn't think he was qualified for the presidency. She portrayed him as unqualified successfully, but didn't make herself a better alternative for enough voters in the right set of states.
What do you make of John McCain? Did his loss to GWB change him, or was his maverick rep always based more on talk than action?
I think McCain does what McCain wants to do in the moment. Sometimes that's to toe the party line (which, by the way, is a manner of retaining influence) and sometimes it's to pitch a fit about one issue or another. He's a savvy guy, and I'd say he does more with his talk than some lawmakers do with their action. That is, he can influence the debate on a given issue by talking.
Who is the most interesting person in Trump's inner circle to you? If you were to write a book about this administration, who besides the man himself would you be most interested in?
Stephen Miller. I'm fascinated by how someone of his limited background in politics and policy—not to mention his worldview—has gained so much influence.
Great answer, thanks for responding
Thanks for asking. I believe reporters can build some of the lost trust by talking more openly about how they approach and do their jobs.
Can you talk about the prevalence of 'off the record' discussions in DC? How much do politicians reveal and then journalists keep secret in general? I am thinking about the report the other day about Kellyanne Conway at a party giving unvarnished opinions to a few different journalists that wouldn't have made it into their news stories if not overheard.
There are lots of off the record conversations between journalists and political players. One reporter I admire gave me good advice a long time ago: The best journalists are often the ones who have the smallest gap between what they know and what they can find a way to put into print. In Shattered, Amie and I granted anonymity to all of our sources because we believed that no one would talk with us—and certainly not candidly—if they were concerned there could be blowback from Clintonworld (or in the cases of people involved with other campaigns and institutions from their bosses).
> Democrats don't often look to red states for candidates
Do you have experience/opinions on Nashville mayor, Megan Barry? I think she is a hidden treasure.
I don't know enough about her to form an intelligent opinion. But I'll take a look.
Jon, can you confirm that Bill clinton is not a rapist?
Thanks for answering my previous question. I have another question, which I feel ridiculous for asking, but I'll do so nonetheless.
What was the relationship between the Clintons and Donald Trump prior to the campaign? Were they actually friends? How is it now? As far as you know, are Bill and Donald still in touch/friendly with one another?
I think the best way to look at it is that they both traveled in elite circles that were different but touched. It was possible that Trump could be helpful to the Clintons or that they could be helpful to him at some point. They were cordial/friendly but not friends. The Clintons went to Trump's most recent wedding, and Bill Clinton counseled Trump when Trump was getting ready to run in 2016 (we talk about that conversation in the book). But I don't get any sense that they were actually close.
No, that was my original question. I mispelled rapist. Hence the edit.
I thought you (or someone) had asked a Russian disinfo question, too.
Do you think the DNC as a whole has learned from the mistakes of the Clinton campaign? I know people who voted for Trump not because they liked him, but because they disliked Clinton and her message. They didn't like identity politics, they felt ignored, and while Trump was campaigning with lofty promises Clinton was complaining about a cartoon frog.
As someone concerned with the actions of the present administration, I would like to see more balance in future elections, but often times it seem like the DNC has not realized exactly why they lost and continues to make the same mistakes, which may set them up for future defeat.
No, I don't think the Democratic Party, as a whole, has focused yet on learning what internal factors - related to the candidate, her campaign and the party - contributed to its 2016 defeat. I not-so-humbly submit that there are a lot of lessons in "Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign."
Up until the presidential election, what do you think drove Clinton's career? If I had never known anything about her up until 2016, I wouldn't be surprised if she had never had any sort of political success.
If you go way back, she worked for the Children's Defense Fund and was chairman of the Legal Services Corporation. In the White House, she was instrumental in the children's health insurance program. I think she spent a lot of time and energy trying to improve the lot of the voiceless.
Great! That's a good feature.
Could there be an application of this platform for dealing with longstanding thorny issues? I'm thinking like the development of the Palestine conflict. Thanks Jon! You are the man.
Thanks for the kind words. Will raise that at our next all-hands meeting.
Fascinating! Thanks for all your research and writing. I'm definitely gonna be checking out HRC and Shattered.
Thank YOU. Hope you enjoy.
Thanks Jon, one last question: Was Obama trying to impose a DAESH muslim type of dictatorship in the country, and did Trump stop him? And are the media fake news?
Also, if you think Clinton has killed Seth Rich, do not write his name in your answer.
I think that our institutions, and the people who serve in them, are the check against a president's power. So far, I think they're standing up well when Trump moves toward coloring outside the lines. The beauty of the republic is that it is designed to prevent any one person from unraveling it. BUT, it depends on the observation of both laws and norms by the various players. I also think there is some hyperventilation over certain things Trump has done that doesn't merit the level of backlash. He's following through - or trying to follow through - on a lot of what he promised on the trail. It's important to keep that in mind in assessing his rhetoric and his actions. I'm not fond of a lot of his rhetoric, but I was encouraged by the eloquence of his statement after the shooting yesterday.
Clinton didn't kill anyone you say? 😂😂😂
I do. I'll say it again: Hillary Clinton didn't kill anyone.
Why did you chooses to do this AMA so long after your subject has lost almost all relevance?
I think the book has a lot of relevance for future campaigns. And while Hillary Clinton has said she won't run again, her strengths and weaknesses as a candidate, and the way she ran her campaign, offer a lot of insight for both political insiders and voters. Plus, I like talking on the Internet whenever I can.