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The Hillary we hardly knew

New York magazine has published a revealing article this week titled "What Hillary Won by Losing the Democratic Nomination." It's by John Heilemann, a lucky journalist who spent much time on the campaign trail with Hillary Rodham Clinton in recent months.

He chronicles from behind the scenes the changes in the candidate and her campaign and the appealing moments of her introspection when Clinton admits to him the fundamental mistakes she made in crafting what a little over a year ago was seen as a surefire gimme nomination victory for the former first lady.

Our thanks to Katie Fretland over at the Swamp for calling the article to our attention. She has a different view of the same article here.

Heilemann's thesis is that contrary to the view of some, Clinton did not damage the Democratic Party's chances of retaking the White House on Nov. 4 nor Barack Obama's odds of beating the Republican nominee, John McCain. She, in fact, made them stronger.

Here's his core point:

"Hillary is today a more resonant, consequential and potent figure than she has ever been before. No longer merely a political persona, she has been elevated to a rarefied plane in our cultural consciousness.

"With her back against the wall, she both found her groove and let loose her raging id, turning herself into a character at once awful and wonderful, confounding and inspiring -- thus enlarging...

...herself to the point where she became iconic.

"She is bigger now than any woman in the country. Certainly, she is bigger than her husband. And although in the end she may wind up being dwarfed by Obama, for the moment she is something he is not: fully, poignantly human."

She admits to Heilemann: "I don’t particularly like the attention. I like the work. I like the sense of forward movement and progress."

From the very beginning of the campaign, even before that January 2007 announcement day, it was Clinton's surprising and even engaging lack of confidence in what Heilemann calls her "political chops" that caused her to rely far too heavily on the ideas of chief strategist Mark Penn, who had guided her 2000 Senate campaign.

Hillary Clinton's strategists resisted showing her human side in favor of projecting strength as a female chief executive

He thought she had to run on her strength and convince the country that a woman, this woman, was strong and rugged enough to be commander-in-chief. Clinton bought into that for too long.

Even before Super Tuesday, by which time she originally was to have had the nomination wrapped up, Clinton admitted to Heilemann "a fundamental miscalculation" that she had focused too much on that feminine strength goal, but she also concluded that she'd had no choice.

Perhaps, in hindsight, some first woman, which happened to be this woman, had to provide that proof to nudge the country's consciousness toward acceptance of a female chief executive someday, even if it wouldn't in the end be this woman.

Others within her circle argued that she should show herself to be more human and involved in human issues, not just policies. Penn's reported response: "Being human is overrated."

Imagine for a moment if Clinton's campaign had worked the retail side of politics in caucus states, let the people in the living rooms see the struggling candidate. She might have finished second instead of third in Iowa. And ridden a tailwind into New Hampshire, where -- remember? -- she "found my voice."

It is a very common struggle within major political campaigns, between the serious policy people who favor profound pronouncements and those who would allow, even encourage, the candidate to show to the curious public the human side that insiders know so well. To work less at convincing the public straight-on and let them see and discover for themselves the likable, human side of the candidate.

The human-siders most often lose in these internal organizational struggles. They are seen as weak.

It's ironic to think that if Hillary Clinton, the politician who got so much better and comfortable as a campaigner as her 17-month struggle unfolded, had allowed the public to see sooner the human, sometimes torn, sometimes uncertain, gritty underdog side that she showed the New York magazine writer, it might very well be Obama encouraging his downhearted supporters these days to unite behind Clinton, the first female candidate to win a major party's presidential nomination.

Too late now.

You can read the entire New York article here. The Ticket recommends it.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo Credits: AP / Elise Amendola

Comments () | Archives (39)

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What most seem not to grasp, is that Hillary "found her voice" in a state (New Hampshire) with an African American demographc of merely 1.2%. That's not finding your voice, that's local demographics. Nationally, African Americans come in at 12%. Interpreting this circumstance wrongly raised her standing to one that could not hold up nationally.

For your information china has overtook U.S as a world superpower. That's because your economic is in recession, Bush kept borrowing money everywhere from Mexico to China. America now trillions dollar in dept. Lots of jobs lost, lots of houses lost and kept spending billions of dollar every month on useless war in Iraq, old man McCain also promised you the same. Please elect McCain as your next president, it would be a good news for China, while China is making progress McCain will busy continuing no end war in Iraq, also busy trying to attack Iran. Also treating Russia. Finally no time think about fixing economic problem, remember he said he knew nothing about economic, so don't blame him for that. Before he finish his first time in office, economic will be in serious recession, then China will officially declare that they're nowworld new superpower.




"...found her groove and let loose her raging id...." Hmmm. Aren't these sexual metaphors? Isn't it her husband, not her, who had the groove and the id? This article is another in the line of c**p that is published about Hillary Clinton. Inevitably women are still judged by physical appearance--nobody "adjectives" Sarkozy as ugly but Benazir Bhutto was always "beautiful"; do not get good press and Hillary really got lousy press; women are still judged by their husbands while men are not judged solely by their wives. Let's see: John McCain could scream and rant at people and this was...okay...Obama could make mistake after mistake and this was...just cute...but Hillary and pillory rhymed again and again. Of course you know that the main instigators of witch hunts were the inquisitors looking for power and blaming problems on someone else. It is such an age-old technique that it is surprising that people are still surprised upon seeing it.
Nothing like an empty obituary to eulogize the loser. I hope she astounds them all and does something

Armchair quarterbacking . . . 20/20 hindsight . . . sound familiar ???

Too late indeed. What a shame that Hillary was prevented from showing her softer more human side because the pundits would have seen her as being too weak. No male would have been subjected to such treatment. Now the chances are that a less qualified and inexperienced person will occupy the White House, as well as become leader of the free world. The thought horrifies me. So much depends upon decisions made in Washington that only the best person should occupy the seat of power. Sadly, I fear this will not be the case.

Hillary Clinton had 22 DEBATES to "find her voice" and let the voters know all sides of her personality, issues, and what she had to offer. The voters’, the delegates’, and super delegates’ consensus was for Obama as the Democrat's Presidential Nominee. You can STOP trying to rewrite current history and STOP Disney-fying the last six months of Hillary’s political campaign. You can also STOP the wishful thinking and "what if's." Yes, I believe Hillary did grow and learn from her experiences while campaigning. She grew in stature and self-confidence but more importantly, Democracy also survived the lap-dog media, racial/racist rants, including some ugly allegations she and her supporters tried to pull over on the public regarding Obama as person (and less about the issues). Hillary Clinton, at best, is a Democrat by name and party affiliation only - that’s what we can remember best about her.

I think if people paid more attention, they would have seen this side of Senator Clinton. I watched and listened to her for years before deciding to support her for President. I made a point to read the opinions of those who had worked with her for years, and I came to understand that Senator Clinton was a lot funnier, a lot warmer and compassionate then has been portrayed over the years. I've seen the tough side, but over years, I also saw the very human side. I guess after the White House years, she became very guarded, but I cant' blame her for that. After people have accused you of murdering one of your best friendsand everything else under the sun, you start to build a wall.

I have a lot of respect for her.

The question is: Since the article involves the Clintons, can you believe any of it? They have a history of obfuscating and distorting whether it be the public or prosecutors or even... (gasp!) reporters.
-Wm Tate,


Being a world superpower as you note it is highly over-rated and yields nothing but the thankless burden for the taxpayers to fund the world police force at the expense of a failing social and civil infrastructure. Look at the EU, they spend 10% of their GDP on the miitary thanks to the USA being a proxy military for them, and their people have univeral health care, free university education, free day care, generous unemployment benefits and 5 weeks paid vacation per year from the 1st year of employment. All subsidized by the "world superpower", yes that's us! It's time to take care of our own and let the rest of the world start paying for their own policing!

Doesn't it seem odd that a 60-year-old U.S. senator, a smart, eloquent, "highly experienced" candidate for the U.S. Presidency, would suddenly "find her voice?" Does that mean by the age of 80 or so she might have "found her philosophy of governance?"

I do want the divisiveness to end, and Sen. Clinton deserves respect. But I find this continuous effort to glorify a smart-but-flawed candidate who blew the biggest primary advantage anyone has had in decades a touch cloying. Oh, and the senator really ought to get a quick ego massage and get back to work. That's what the paycheck is for. I doubt that if I ran for city council and lost my employer would say, "Oh, you're probably sad. Take half the summer off." Who are these people?

The extreme left of the Dem party basically installed Obama and Hillary was thrown to the wolves. Yes, Penn had a good idea, but no matter how much you push a good idea, the people that make the decisions in the party will always find a way to pundit their own spin. Thus, we now have Mr. Inexperience because he's ultra liberal and Clinton is not.

Why are we still discussing Hillary Clinton? She left the primary election, remember? Like everything about Hillary Clinton, what you see isn't exactly what you get. She and her friends have this amazing amount of duplicity going on. In a nutshell, that is the reason why so many people just don't trust her at all. Bye bye Hill.

It aint over til its over> And I am betting it aint over. My predictions:
The DNC rules and bylaws committee are going to rue the day they highjacked our democratic process and give Michigan and Florida two votes apiece next go round. Ohio will secede from the democratic nation for being dissed by the stupidity of the first campaign that thinks it can sidestep traditional swing states. Nancy Pelosi is going to pay penance for trying to hog the feminist limelight, admit she hates Hillary athewhile wearing South Sea Pearls suitable for a coronation.
Obama is going to throw Michelle under the bus as just another political liability and continue to wonder why he doesn't cut it with women. Richardson is going to slimeball his way into an appointed office. Congress is going to bow to short term fixes by giving up on offshore drilling instead of enacting fuel rationing. The media is going to try to blame Bill Clinton for hurting Hillary's campaign, thus insuring Obamas nomination and clinching McCain's win in November. Keith Olbermann is going to pout for three months and then find a reason to go ballistic when Tim Russert's job goes to someone else. Adrianna Huffington is going to continue to spew out garbage on her blog. Women across this country will work their butts off to elect women down the ticket so we can stop this madness. Hillary's name will appear on presidential ballots all up and down Appalachia. Iowans will fight to the death for early caucus rights (after they dry out). The GOP"will laugh all the way to the bank for four years. The world wiill shake their heads in disbelief. Bill and Hillary will continue to raise millions for charitable causes through the Clinton Global Initiative. Pat Robertson will get his own FaceBook page. Chelsea will get married and have babies Jeb Bush will run for President and lose. Howard Dean will learn Spanish. Yellowstone will blow and polar bears will think they are in hell.

It aint over til its over. It aint over.

wow... its so interesting to see how we rewrite history that is only a few years and in some cases a few months old.

hilary voted for the war. she knew what she was doing.

even al gore... who had the same intelligence as she did... knew it was a tragic mistake.

but she voted for the war to look "strong" and presidential. She didn't even crack open one page of the NIE. she just voted for it like as if it was a new roads bill or something.

THAT my friends... a vote to go to war.. ... was what actually did her in. and it wasn't the vote itself. it was the ultimate reminder to a lot of us.. that she would do anything for her own gain, even at the cost of lives and treasure.

in the end, tossing away all the hand wringing about Penn's blunders... it will be that....

... not enough voters in the primaries trusted her.

SOME single issue ("she's a woman) voters either did trust her, or didn't see her duplicity as a problem. just not enough voters.

in the end? she lost because there was an issue of trust and judgement.

one interesting note about gender: just like men, women lose contests of all kinds. and just like men, sometimes its not fair or for the right reasons. but we all have an equal opportunity to get our teeth kicked in. fair or not. just ask al gore

.I support HRC 100%, and always will. These past months have shown all of us that there are still double standards regarding men and women, caucasians and minorities. It's was sickening to watch how Senator Clinton was treated by major media, and what she had to endure. Showing her softer side would not have helped. Let's not forget that when she did, that disgrace to the Catholic Church was mocking her, and everyone sitting in that church was thoroughly enjoying his bashing. Well, even though Senator Clinton has encouraged her 18 million supporters to stand with Obama, this is one that will not forget the abuse and mistreatment she received, and for the first time in my adult life will not be voting Democrat. Obama is not experienced enough to run this country, especially with the critical issues that we as Americans are currently facing.

I don't believe that Hillary lost because of her campaign. She lost because of Obama's candidacy. She came in as the establishment favorite. Then, a once-in-a -lifetime, out of the blue candidate caught the imagination and the support of a sleeping nation. If anything, Hillary's problem was not that she was a woman, but that her claim to fame was that she was Bill's wife. It wasn't her gender, her policies or her person; it was the path she had taken to get there. Ultimately, being spouse or son of a former President is a double-edged sword. Her campaign tried to make us believe in just one of those edges. May the next great candidate be a female whose path is her own.

You have an exaggerated title for this article. 35 years as a public servant, and you claim we hardley knew her.
In truth the media marketed an image and added tons
of sexism, and subliminal negative messages that polluted every home in America.

Generation after generation women have had the fight to raise their status to participate meaningfully in society.
And yet women are still not treated with a modicum of respect.

It's too late for you to be a pallbearer!

It's unfortunate that the world knows better the evil side of HiLL than any other side. Who are they gonna blame again??? Me? You, ...Anyway, EVIL side or ANGEL side; it's still HILLs' side. The truth here is that Washington politicians have been too greedy and selfish in they management. That's what open up people eyes and led them for BOUBA. Go BOUBA, GO.


This is like saying kind things about someone at their funeral. This article ignores the core of Hillary that is ugly, power grabbing and opportunistic. She found her voice when she started playing the race card in code words. When she began increasingly desperate the code was gone and she went to 'hard working white...'

A truly despcable human being that's what Hillary is and always has been.

Female voter in Tampa

You people just need to stop writing about HRC. She's done, over, gone! She lost. I am so sick of the Clinton's arrogance, entitlement, whining, lying and trying to change the rules.

Get over it and move on. There is nothing remarkable about what she has done. There has already been a female on a presidential ticket.

There has been so much feminist BS that it has for every supposed crack in a so called "glass ceiling" that there are now 3 times as many men that will fix it and reinforce it.

It's really not too late. The Democratic Convention isn't until the end of August.

Too bad she's a deceptive prevaricator with no ethical standards. She said she dodged bullets, brokered peace in Ireland, was a beer an whiskey drinker who like to shoot her gun. What a crock. Screw her "iconic" status. She's a used car salesman like Bush and has no respect for the truth or the public's right to not be lied to when they are trying to hire a President. If anything, it was her lies more than sexism that were the cause of her downfall. Like Newt Gingrich and Freddy Kruger I'm sure she'll pop up again and scare the bejesus out of us.

when did the LATimes ever make a concerted effort to get to know her or allow her to have an unbiased review through your pathetic coverage?

I don't even know why I bother to come to your site anymore.

Your journalistic integrity stinks.

you know, i'm glad hillary backed out finally. it was the first time i saw the hillary i admired so much when bill was in the spotlight.

perhaps she didn't get a fair shake. but that's her fault for not listening to herself and listening to other people.

there shoudl be nothing embarassing about being a woman. she is a woman. there are strong women all over the world in daily lives who are women and don't find the need to act like men that have more integrity than any woman who thinks she has to act like a man to gain respect.

i did not admire hillary at all this campaign. to me she had morphed into a greedy for power to fulfil her agenda sort of person.

this made me sad because i did love hillary before. she was smart and insightful. her books were well written and very meaningful to me. but this race she turned into someone i couldn't identify with anymore. and it was disappointing. i really did want to support her. but i just couldn't because obama resonated with me so much more than she did. which is unfortunate for her, because i don't think she is any less capable of inspiring people than obama is. but she had this pompusness to her that turned me off of her. she was too arrogant and that showed in how she spoke.

her backing out of the race was the first sensible thing she has done since she started this campaign. and i even started to like her again.

i hope obama does not allow this to get to his head like it did to hillary.

Hillary had i8 years to show us her personality. The above mentioned article assumes that we are dull and insensitive. I do not know how we could have paid more attention to the person who has constantly demanded our atteintion to herself. In short, she is an inefficient worker, who cannot accomplish a mission in the given time frame. 18 years ...

It ain't over. I am so upset that the media plays along that somehow presumptive means ordained, it does not.

Isn't it interesting that Clinton claimed to have run too much on issues when what destroyed her was running on attempted character assassination? That won her ignorant "rural white" voters and women that blindly identified with her, but it cost her the superdelegate support that was what she ultimately needed.


Finally. Hillary was never really the establishment candidate she was OUR candidate and 18,000,000 of us are neither racists hillbillies or feminazis. A serious brillaint woman with a profound command of policy and genunine concern for everday people was caricatured by the mainstream media and Sen. Obama's supporters over and over again. Sen. Obama will get my vote but reluctantly. Frankly it is now a typical Dem vs Rep race. A real sad snoozefest. Wake me when it's over or when our gal Hillary returns

Folks, the bottom line is: If you are an Obama supporter and need women's votes (and you do), you need to respect us. We're reading all this tripe and just getting angrier. Keep it up and John McCain will be President McCain. That's a promise.

Both Obama and Clinton were made out to be bigger than themselves by Clinton's fight for the nomination.

Obama gets to represent all the hope and dreams of the African American - to finally see one of their own taking the ultimate prize.

Clinton gets to represent the hope and dreams of the all the women that sexism is finally neutralized.

Now, Clinton becomes a bigger symbol than Obama because sexism is not even recognized as an issue, comparing to racism. Both are intolerable, but racism is now accepted as 'unacceptable', while sexism is still being debated if it is even an issue. Proof - anybody who made any comment that can be construed as 'racism' gets attacked! Sexism, even to this day, is still being debated by the pundits 'did we, really?"

For this reason, a "NO vote" to Obama is more of a stand against sexism and a message to Obama, the DNC, civil rights leaders, that their silence was noted and unforgivable.

Re-packaging a 1960.s Ford Mustang ant trying to sell it as a 2008 Ferrari. We have always known her - victim/wife of a deeply flawed gov/pres - winning by marrying and whining. She became a great debater and a symbol to older,poor,white un-educated catholic gun-toting women.

Her moment has passed - Geraldine Ferraro ( 1st female VP candidate) has passed. A new one will emerge as a serious candidate not as a symbol or a wife.There is no legacy or permanent role of enhanced leadership.
Ciao bambina !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She has not released her delegates yet. Her non-concession speech followed by an obligatory concession speech focusing on her more than Obama. Holding on and hoping for a miracle until the very end. Denver???

Her people will go for Obama ( except for the racist portion of her following who wouldnt go for him anyway)
They will go for him because they have no other place to go. They will go ontheir own - they are not hers to deliver.

Her illusion of controlling 18mm voters is an illusion. In fact the queen has no clothes - a faded pants suit ready to be put in the closet

Hillary supporters like Aunt Bea,

If you demand respect you must be willing to give respect, like acknowledging who won the primary. Yes, if enough women vote for McCain he will be president. But, if enough women are willing to vote against their interests to hand the election to the Republicans then Obama supporters will remember too. We then can also guarantee that Hillary will never be nominated by the Democratic Party. That is also a promise. Hillary can run as independent, like Ralph Nader, but then she will also go down in history as another Ralph Nader.

Amazing how Obama can make one stupid political move after another, and people keep making excuses for him and giving him a pass. If Clinton made any of these mistakes, it would be a major catastrophe. This campaign has been overwhelmingly influenced by media "trash" like Chris Mattews, Oberman, etc.
I've been waiting a year and a half for Obama to impress
me, and it hasn't happened yet. I don't care about his
story, I'm tired of it. I want to hear what qualifies him to
run for president, how he's going to specifically get
universal healthcare for all, how he's going to specifically create new jobs to replace the manufacturing
jobs that went overseas. Until I hear specifics, that make
sense, I will not vote for him. It takes a lot of audacity
to run for president when you don't have anything to back it up.

What a stupid article? Trying to idolize the most selfish person who played all kinds of tricks and lies, screwed up the best chances anyone ever had, ran a terrible and chaotic campaign, made herself look like an idiot with the beer and whiskey shot stunts, guns and gas station visits with an idiotic grin on her face, abusing the feminine sentiment and blaming the press and whoever comes in her way of anti-feminism, covering up her incapabilities and incompetencies by blaming others!! You kind of wonder how the media sometimes get manipulated - is it really getting manipulated by Clintons or is it being corrupted by them. Emotional manipulation of the women in this country is by far H. Clinton's most amazing trick. Being a woman, I am insulted and outraged by Clinton's manipulation of womankind.

"ignorant 'rural white' voters"

It is small-minded generalizations like that that helped to contribute to the last two losses by Democratic candidates.

And I don't think that a lot of Clinton supporters will go for McCain but some may not vote at all. And again, it doesn't have to be because of racism or anger. It could just be that Obama doesn't do anything for them.

We here in NY where she was foisted on us by a corrupt Democratic machine knew her very well.
We were unsurprised by her & her supporters vicious racism, unrelenting self pity & mindless male bashing.
The real Hillary could not get elected dogcatcher.

It fails the truth test. For one, Obama would have told EVERYONE. And he is too arrogant to offer her the VP slot.

Just look at how he lied to ABC News saying that the Clintons called him a Muslim the other day. He can't resist hitting her when he should be extending the olive branch to Clinton democrats.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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