The Ugly Truth

Revelations about the Clinton campaign's "un-American" ideas reveal more than just a penchant for nasty politics.

Thanks to the digging of The Atlantic Monthly’s Joshua Green, we now have a sense of what a Hillary Clinton presidency would have been like. And, Lord knows, it would not have been pretty.

The most eye-catching detail to emerge from The Atlantic’s reporting, thus far, is the battle plan devised by Clinton’s chief strategist Mark Penn to attack Obama for his “limited” connection to “basic American values and culture.”

But the overall picture painted by the astonishing collection of internal memos and e-mails that Green collected from Clinton campaign insiders is that, when it comes to leadership, the former first lady is, to put it plainly, a dysfunctional mess.

As Green puts it, “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.”

Clinton has presided over only two big enterprises in her life, the ill-fated attempt at health-care reform during her husband’s first term and her bid for the White House. It is now safe to say that she botched both of them badly.

Imagine the consequences if what Green describes as the “anger and toxic obsessions” that characterized her campaign were to erupt in a Clinton administration suddenly confronted with, oh let’s say, a Russian invasion of Georgia on the eve of the Olympics.

Green’s disclosures are already being exhaustively analyzed by top notch reporters like Dan Balz of The Washington Post and Mike Allen of Politico. Predictably, Penn’s strategy of painting Obama as some kind of exotic alien is dominating the headlines.

In one memo, Penn quipped, “Won’t a single tape of [the Rev. Jeremiah] Wright going off on America with Obama sitting there be a game ender?”

In another, he proclaimed “I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values. He told the people of NH yesterday he has a Kansas accent because his mother was from there. His mother lived in many states as far as we can tell—but this is an example of the nonsense he uses to cover this up.”