'Shattered': Book Mocks Hillary's Kickoff Speech that Author Praised in 2015

April 18th, 2017 1:54 PM

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign could just as accurately been titled, Shattered: How a Pair of MSM Journalists Inadvertently Destroyed Their Credibility. The reason is that while authors Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes are now somewhat frank in revealing the faults of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, back when they were reporting on it they acted as cheerleaders for her.

As proof we have the first chapter of the book which went into detail on the background of the gymnastics that went into crafting via committee the banalities that went into Hillary's lackluster kickoff speech on June 13, 2015 at Roosevelt Island, NY. After reading the harsh critique of a speech they conceded lacked vision, we shall review co-author Jonathan Allen's glowing review of that same speech in 2015 that hailed its...vision.

First some book excerpts that set the behind the scenes struggle to piece together that speech by committee:

Schwerin, the chief speechwriter, found himself at the center of all that distress as he tried to fashion her first big address, which would take place not in Iowa but on Roosevelt Island, a narrow strip of land in the East River named after FDR. She would speak from Four Freedoms Park, a monument to his legendary 1941 speech to Congress. The venue was Hillary’s preferred location for kicking off the campaign, and she hoped to deliver a speech there that would echo through history like Roosevelt’s. If she won the presidency, her remarks would be seen as an important historical marker. It’s hard to turn the numbingly mundane details of statecraft into winning politics. But that’s the charge Hillary handed Schwerin, who had been a press assistant in her Senate office, a speechwriter in her State Department, and the ghostwriter of her post-State memoir. He was a well-liked fixture within the small but influential State Department clique that transitioned into top jobs on her presidential campaign.

...Schwerin struggled from the start to write anything that could pass muster with Benenson and Palmieri.

...About a month before Hillary’s big launch, he asked colleagues on the campaign to recruit a star wordsmith for help.

...Benenson and Margolis reached out to Jon Favreau, the vaunted speechwriter for Barack Obama, to help draft the kind of visionary message that had eluded Hillary in her first campaign for the presidency.

...Favreau once told the New York Times that writing for the word-conscious Obama was like serving as “Ted Williams’s batting coach.” Now, he was being asked to perform a similar feat for a candidate who lacked the splendid splinter’s vision.

...Once Favreau came on board, he was paired with longtime Clinton speechwriter Lissa Muscatine to put some extra punch into the speech, by then scheduled for June 13.

...Hillary didn’t have a vision to articulate. And no one else could give one to her. In fact, the more people she assigned to the task of setting the tone for her campaign, the more muddled her message became. The list of writers on the first address included, but was not limited to, Schwerin, Muscatine, Favreau, Benenson, Mook, Palmieri, Podesta, Grunwald, Sullivan, and Schake, who was Michelle Obama’s image maven before joining the Clinton campaign.

...Her marching orders were to find a slogan and a message. The absence of any talk about her actual vision for the country or the reasons voters should choose her stunned some of the participants.

In case you still haven't figured out that the Hillary Clinton campaign was being run like a Byzantine court by a leader who lacked vision, the authors emphasized that point again by citing speech writer Jon Favreau to that effect:

Frustrated with the process and the product, Favreau dropped out about a week before Clinton stepped to the podium. As a parting shot, he delivered to Benenson and Palmieri a frank assessment of the shortcomings of the operation and the speech. It was coming in way too long, lacked a central rationale for why Hillary was running for president, and sounded enough like standard Democratic pablum that, with the exception of the biographical details, it could have been delivered by anyone in the party. Beyond that, it was the product of a write-by-committee paradigm that never would have passed muster in either of the Obama campaigns. There was no strong leader running the show.

...But the basic frailty remained what Favreau had pointed out: the failure of the speech to connect Hillary to a cause larger than herself.

Finally this devastating summary by the book's authors of Hillary's lackluster kickoff speech:

She sprinkled in bromides about economic opportunity and how “prosperity can’t just be for CEOs.” But there was no overarching narrative explaining her candidacy, no framing of Hillary as the point of an underdog spear, no emotive power. “America can’t succeed unless you succeed,” she offered in a trite tautology. “That is why I am running for president of the United States.”

Of course this criticism of Hillary's kickoff speech comes now that the election is over. Back when it really counted how did co-author Jonathan Allen react? He hailed the speech in Vox on June 13 of that same year for having what he now says it lacked, How Hillary Clinton nailed the vision thing.

Hillary Clinton gets hit a lot for not having a "vision." For most of the campaign so far, the criticism has fairly centered on her refusal to take positions on some core Democratic issues. Now she's taking flak for getting too deep in the weeds in the speech she gave at her campaign's first big rally in New York. But the truth is, Clinton pretty much nailed the vision thing on Saturday.

...what she did Saturday is appeal to voters on the core policy issues that they care about and thread them together under an overarching vision of making American more fair for everyone. And she was willing to get more specific on how to do it. So anyone who argues Clinton came up short in articulating a vision for a different version of America wasn't paying attention.

...Clinton articulated her own vision by contrasting with Republicans, and she did it without the kind of clever rhetorical flourish that usually wins praise from political analysts.

A book that is supposed to give us an inside look at Hillary Clinton's doomed campaign might ironically end up being more notable, despite its intentions, for its revelations about just how biased mainstream media reporters of that same campaign were.