Clinton still unpopular

One of the reasons Hillary Clinton failed in last year’s presidential election was her relatively high unpopularity. While it doesn’t matter now she is political history, she is just as unpopular (her excuses for losing won’t have helped).

People tend to not like losers, especially sore losers.

The Democrats aren’t doing much better.

Fox News:  Is the Democrats’ brand ‘worse than Trump’? Some party officials admit it is

Chris Murphy, a Democratic senator from Connecticut, made some candid comments that caught my eye yesterday.

“The fact that we have spent so much time talking about Russia has been a distraction from what should be the clear contrast between Democrats and the Trump agenda, which is on economics.”

Bingo. Running mainly against Donald Trump didn’t work for the Dems in 2016, and it’s not working now.

Ohio Democratic congressman Tim Ryan told the New York Times that his party is “toxic” in large swaths of the country: “Our brand is worse than Trump. We can’t just run against Trump.”

They are diverting from their own substantial problems by trying to blame everything on Trump.

One of the stupid things about this approach is that they don’t need to show how bad Trump can be, he keeps doing that himself. His stupidity over the Comey non-tapes is evidence of that – seeTrump “did not make…any such recordings”.

Trump’s unpopularity is similar to Clinton’s. From FiveThirtyEight:

538TrumpPolls2017June22

That is historically low approval for a president in their first six months in office. Trump has managed to get there through his own efforts, he doesn’t need the Democrats to discredit him.

That both Clinton and Trump are so disliked is an indictment on the state of US politics.

 

Clinton excuses again

I don’t know why Hillary Clinton has chosen to launch another round of excuses for losing the presidential election, but she doesn’t seem to be scoring much sympathy.

Fox News: Clinton says she takes responsibility for loss to Trump — but blames plenty

Hillary Clinton says she’s not running for president again, but she may be running out of excuses for why she lost the White House to President Trump.

Former FBI Director James Comey, Facebook, The New York Times, Russia, WikiLeaks, misogyny, the pressure of high expectations and the Democratic National Committee have been among the people, organizations and attitudes Clinton has saddled with responsibility in recent days for her stunning November loss.

Clinton, who has said she’s writing another book, has often told her interviewers she takes “absolute personal responsibility” for the loss. However, in other questions, she’s spread the blame liberally.

This time she let rip at the Democrat Party.

The former Democratic standard-bearer was perhaps her most forthcoming at Recode, even slamming her party for an inept election operation.

“It was bankrupt, it was on the verge of insolvency, its data was mediocre to poor, non-existent, wrong,” Clinton said. “I had to inject money into it – the DNC – to keep it going.”

The media were a factor that had to be managed, but that worked for and against both candidates.

Clinton on Wednesday night also took aim at The New York Times – typically viewed as a left-leaning publication – for treating her secret server scandal “like it was Pearl Harbor.”

James Comey’s intervention obviously damaged Clinton’s chances but that was because she was already on shaky ground.

And the man in charge of that server investigation, Comey, didn’t escape Clinton’s wrath, either – particularly at issue for Clinton was the letter Comey sent to Congress late in the campaign announcing new evidence in the case may have been discovered. Comey ultimately never recommended Clinton be prosecuted.

Then a Clayton’s excuse:

“I take responsibility for every decision I make – but that’s not why I lost,” Clinton said Wednesday at the Recode Code Conference in California.

She lost because she and her campaign were not good enough against one of the most flawed and vulnerable opponents imaginable.

Chris Cillizza at CNN: In election blame game, it’s time for Hillary Clinton to take her share

Hillary Clinton’s list of who’s to blame for her 2016 election loss gets longer with every passing day.

On Wednesday, in an interview with Recode’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, Clinton added a few more names to her list: The New York Times and the Democratic National Committee. That’s in addition to the media, James Comey, Donald Trump, the Russians and her supporters’ assumptions that she would win the race.

The one person missing from that list? Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Sure, in her Recode interview, Clinton made passing reference — as she has done in her other post-election appearances — to the idea that she made mistakes.

“I take responsibility for every decision I make — but that’s not why I lost,” she said.

The first half of that sentence is pure politician speak; the second half is what Clinton really believes.

Whining over half a year later is not going to change the result, and worse, it is unlikely to help the Democrats move on and sort themselves out.

The truth of the matter is this: Hillary Clinton’s name was at the top of the campaign and signed on the checks her staff received. It was her decision to set up a private email server and exclusively use it for her communications as secretary of state — the first person in her position to do that.

She was the one who kept giving high-paid speeches to the likes of Goldman Sachs even after it was clear she was going to run for president. (“They paid me,” Clinton explained Wednesday.)

She was the one who struggled to grasp — despite the repeated warnings of her staff — that the email issue was causing her major image problems on questions of honesty and trustworthiness.

She was the one who struggled to put away a once-quixotic challenge by Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.

She was the one who premised her entire general election strategy on the idea that once voters knew who Trump was and what he said, they would have no choice but to vote for her.

She’s the one who decided against visiting Wisconsin even one time between the Democratic convention and the general election.

All of those things played roles — you can debate how big or how small — in her loss. And Clinton had control of every single one.

There’s something worse than a loser in politics – a sore loser who won’t accept their failings and flaws.

And the more Clinton goes on and on making excuses and blaming everyone and everything else for her failure the worse it gets.

Biden bashes Clinton

Joe Biden has said what many people thought, especially voters in some pivotal US states, Hillary Clinton wasn’t a great candidate. She was so poor she lost to Donald Trump, someone with no political experience and lacking support even within his own Republican Party.

Phily.Com: Joe Biden slams Hillary Clinton: ‘I never thought she was a great candidate’

Joe Biden has a reputation for saying what’s on his mind, and on Thursday night, he reportedly didn’t hold back at all about former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“I never thought she was a great candidate. I thought I was a great candidate,” Biden reportedly told an audience of hedge fund managers at the annual SALT conference in Las Vegas.

“No man or woman should announce for the presidency unless they genuinely believe that for the that moment in the nation’s history they are the most qualified person to deal with the issues facing the country,” Biden continued, according to TheStreet’s Ronald Orol.

Despite his criticism of candidate Clinton, Biden did add that he thought Hillary would have been “a really good president.”

She may have made an ok ‘same old’ establishment sort of president, but she is unlikely to have shaken up fundamental problems in the US political system. She was one of the established ruling class.

And we will never know how she would have managed the job.

Biden considered standing against Clinton for nomination last year but decided against it. His son had died then previous year. he would have been very establishment too.

Biden has repeatedly said his emphasis right now is on his family being “put back together,” but on Thursday left the door open about a possible run in 2020.

“If I get those things done, and I’m healthy and viable, and it looks like I’m the best man to do it, I may very well do it,” Biden said. “But my family comes first.”

“Could I? Yes,” Biden continued. “Would I? Probably not.”

Biden would be nearly 78 years old in 2020. At age 70, President Donald Trump is the oldest president to ever assume office.

Probably not. If he won he would be nearly 82 by the end of his first term, so a second term would be a stretch on age and health alone.

In any case the Democrats need to be doing something very different if they want to rebuild after their embarrassingly poor results last year. They lost the presidency, and failed to gain a majority in either the senate or Congress.

To revitalise, the Democrats need someone much different to either Clinton or Biden to lead them.

A problem with US politics is that parties don’t decide who might lead them until election year, so the next three years may be manoeuvring of those wanting to set up their preferred presidential candidate more than addressing the real and fundamental problems in the party and the country.

 

Comey ‘probably cost Clinton the election’

An analysis of polls and media coverage by Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight makes a strong case in support of the claim that The Comey Letter Probably Cost Clinton The Election

It may well have been the final nail in a poor campaign. Trumps campaign was also poor but it succeeded where it mattered, with the help of Comey.

But Silver also makes a strong case for the influence of the media and their denials of the impact they have.

And this applies to New Zealand as well, on a smaller scale.

Hillary Clinton would probably be president if FBI Director James Comey had not sent a letter to Congress on Oct. 28. The letter, which said the FBI had “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” into the private email server that Clinton used as secretary of state, upended the news cycle and soon halved Clinton’s lead in the polls, imperiling her position in the Electoral College.

The letter isn’t the only reason that Clinton lost. It does not excuse every decision the Clinton campaign made. Other factors may have played a larger role in her defeat…

But the effect of those factors — say, Clinton’s decision to give paid speeches to investment banks, or her messaging on pocket-book issues, or the role that her gender played in the campaign — is hard to measure.

The impact of Comey’s letter is comparatively easy to quantify, by contrast. At a maximum, it might have shifted the race by 3 or 4 percentage points toward Donald Trump, swinging Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida to him, perhaps along with North Carolina and Arizona. At a minimum, its impact might have been only a percentage point or so.

Still, because Clinton lost Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by less than 1 point, the letter was probably enough to change the outcome of the Electoral College.

And yet, from almost the moment that Trump won the White House, many mainstream journalists have been in denial about the impact of Comey’s letter.

It hasn’t just been journalists who have been in denial about the effect of Comey’s letter. Trump chooses to ignore it and promote his own greatness, but that is what he does.

Many Trump supporters seem to want to think he won simply on merit and don’t want to consider he wasn’t that great, he just ended up being slightly less ungreat than Clinton in a few key states.

Why would the media want to ‘forget’ about the Comey letter effect?

The motivation for this seems fairly clear: If Comey’s letter altered the outcome of the election, the media may have some responsibility for the result.

The media were as poor throughout the campaign as the Clinton and Trump campaigns, and as with other issues they over-emphasised the Comey letter, helping make it a game changer. The whole campaign debacle was an appalling advertisement for democracy.

One can believe that the Comey letter cost Clinton the election without thinking that the media cost her the election — it was an urgent story that any newsroom had to cover.

But if the Comey letter had a decisive effect and the story was mishandled by the press — given a disproportionate amount of attention relative to its substantive importance, often with coverage that jumped to conclusions before the facts of the case were clear — the media needs to grapple with how it approached the story.

Is the media likely to examine and grapple with how it handled the election? That’s probably as likely as Clinton examining and accepting her own shortcomings, or as likely as Trump becoming modest about his win and his presidency.

If I were advising a future candidate on what to learn from 2016, I’d tell him or her to mostly forget about the Comey letter and focus on the factors that were within the control of Clinton and Trump. That’s not my purpose here. Instead, it’s to get at the truth — to figure out the real story of the election.

The real story is that the Comey letter had a fairly large and measurable impact, probably enough to cost Clinton the election. It wasn’t the only thing that mattered, and it might not have been the most important. But the media is still largely in denial about how much of an effect it had.

That applies to the whole campaign.

Modern media plays an integral part in elections. They are a major influence on what voters learn about candidates.

And media has moved far to far from being reporters, investigators and informers, and they have become far too much political activists and promoters.

This is not just true of the US.

In New Zealand the media have become tools of political campaigns because it generates headlines and stories, and some in media have become virtual political activists, their egos driving their coverage more than balance and perspective.

This is likely to continue because the media are excused by the majority, those who win, those who get favourable outcomes, those in power, in part due to the campaign influence of media.

The media probably cost Clinton the election as much as the Comey letter did, but the media had also contributed significantly to Clinton – and Trump – being the eventual candidates. Two very flawed candidates in a very flawed political system dominated by a very flawed media.

Social media has a growing influence, but in large part that is due to the deficiencies of the ‘mainstream’ media.

Clinton blames everything else and herself

Hillary Clinton, in a public interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at the Women for Women International summit in New York, took “absolute personal responsibility” for her loss in last year’s election and admits making mistakes, but still blames her loss on the unprecedented intervention of FBI head James Comey.

“I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot. I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had”.

“Did I make mistakes, oh my god, yes, you will read my confessions, my request for absolution. But the reason I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last 10 days.”

“If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president”.

“I was on the way to winning until a combination of (FBI Director) Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off”.

“”The evidence for that intervening event is, I think, compelling, persuasive, and so we overcame a lot in the campaign”.

Comey’s letter did impact significantly on the campaign and may well have swung it against Clinton, but that’s history – and it’s history that wouldn’t have happened if Clinton wasn’t such a flawed candidate with too much political baggage who ran a poor campaign.

Clinton also said she believed misogyny played a role in her defeat. It may have done but I don’t think that’s a major factor – balanced against that was repulsion at the revelations about Trump’s attitude to women.

Clinton also had a dig in advance at Trump.

“If he wants to tweet about me, then I am happy to be the diversion because we have a lot of things to worry about”.

“He should worry less about the election and my winning the popular vote than doing some other things that would be important for the country.”

She suggested that if Trump launched a fusillade on Twitter, it would be “better than interfering in foreign affairs.”

She will have known that this will have annoyed Trump, and inevitably he responded via Twitter:

FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!

The phony Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?

In some ways Trump’s campaign was great, it worked where it mattered most, but it was in other ways an awful campaign for an awful candidate.

As Stephen Collinson at CNN says: Clinton, Trump can’t stop airing their 2016 grievances

In a stunning interview Tuesday, Clinton, the former Democratic nominee, vented her still raw emotions and blazing bitterness over her defeat by Trump — pointing to Russia and FBI Chief James Comey as the key drivers of her loss.

Trump, for his part, rarely lets more than a few days go by without boasting about his outsider win. Then, remarkably for a victor, he disputes the result — claiming without evidence that millions of illegal voters handed Clinton a popular vote triumph.

The prospect of regurgitating the most bitter election on record must horrify Americans who were forced to live through it for roughly two years.

But given Clinton’s public anger over her loss and Trump’s unwillingness to move on, a long-range rhetorical rematch is inevitable, especially since Clinton has a book coming in the fall.

The President is extraordinarily touchy about the merest suggestion that his victory is not totally authentic. Clinton has now given her supporters, many of whom believe she was cheated out of breaking the highest, hardest glass ceiling in politics, even more reasons to view Trump as illegitimate.

And the President is unlikely to take a pass at Clinton’s unflattering description of his performance, including her renewal of her claim that he was unprepared for office.

As his tweets show he didn’t take a pass, but it’s sad that Clinton has let her bitterness boil over so publicly.

It’s rather ironic that a clash over one of the most powerful and important jobs in the world continues to be so petty and childish.

Both Clinton and Trump continue to remind the world how bad US democracy has become.

Poll: Trump would beat Clinton again

Different poll slants from the US, none of which mean much.

12h12 hours ago

New News/WaPo poll: 56% say Trump has accomplished either not much or nothing in his first 100 days in office

Washington Examiner saw something different of interest: Wash Post poll hides: Trump still beats Clinton, 43%-40%

A new Washington Post poll that declares President Trump as “the least popular president in modern times,” waits until the second to last paragraph to reveal another tidbit: He’d still beat Hillary Rodham Clinton if the election were held today and in the popular vote, not just Electoral College.

It probably wasn’t prominent because it isn’t very important.

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Clinton is failed political history so it’s not surprising to see her support waning. It’s more notable that Trump’s support is staying low even though he is now president and getting a lot of attention.

Also unchanged: His base still likes him.

That’s not surprising, he had strong support from his base and hasn’t done much that would lose that support. He hasn’t done much to gain support from people who doubted his abilities either.

The poll found that Trump’s polls continue to be upside down, with a 42 percent approval and 53 percent disapproval.

That’s similar to most other polls. Trump’s approval was diving until his missile strike in Syria and big bomb drop in Afghanistan, after which it recovered a little but that doesn’t seem to have been sustained.

RCPApproval2017-04-23

Trump still has a lot to prove – that he can get things done as promised, and that he won’t stuff up the world and provoke Armageddon.

Support may drop off if he keeps failing to deliver on his tough talk and campaign promises, like this winding back the rhetoric.

Titanic campaign by Clinton

A book review describes Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign as like the Titanic, she should have been unsinkable against a candidate like Trump but headed full steam for icebergs.

NY Times Books: Shattered’ Charts Hillary Clinton’s Course Into the Iceberg

In their compelling new book, “Shattered,” the journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes write that Clinton’s loss suddenly made sense of all the reporting they had been doing for a year and a half — reporting that had turned up all sorts of “foreboding signs” that often seemed at odds, in real time, with indications that Clinton was the favorite to win. Although the Clinton campaign was widely covered, and many autopsies have been conducted in the last several months, the blow-by-blow details in “Shattered” — and the observations made here by campaign and Democratic Party insiders — are nothing less than devastating, sure to dismay not just her supporters but also everyone who cares about the outcome and momentous consequences of the election.

In fact, the portrait of the Clinton campaign that emerges from these pages is that of a Titanic-like disaster: an epic fail made up of a series of perverse and often avoidable missteps by an out-of-touch candidate and her strife-ridden staff that turned “a winnable race” into “another iceberg-seeking campaign ship.”

It’s the story of a wildly dysfunctional and “spirit-crushing” campaign that embraced a flawed strategy (based on flawed data) and that failed, repeatedly, to correct course.

There was a perfect storm of other factors, of course, that contributed to Clinton’s loss, including Russian meddling in the election to help elect Trump; the controversial decision by the F.B.I. director, James Comey, to send a letter to Congress about Clinton’s emails less than two weeks before Election Day; and the global wave of populist discontent with the status quo (signaled earlier in the year by the British “Brexit” vote) that helped fuel the rise of both Trump and Bernie Sanders. In a recent interview, Clinton added that she believed “misogyny played a role” in her loss.

I doubt there was any significant misogyny involved but (I don’t know what’s this is called) there was a lot of prejudice against a badly flawed and poorly performing candidate.

“Shattered” underscores Clinton’s difficulty in articulating a rationale for her campaign (other than that she was not Donald Trump).

She seemed to think she could win simply by letting Trump lose, but when hit by the Comey thunderbolt she had nothing alternative to combat it with.

In chronicling these missteps, “Shattered” creates a picture of a shockingly inept campaign hobbled by hubris and unforced errors, and haunted by a sense of self-pity and doom, summed up in one Clinton aide’s mantra throughout the campaign: “We’re not allowed to have nice things.”

Clinton stuffed up big time. The climax of her political career is losing to what should have been an unelectable candidate.

Can the Democrats learn and move on from Clinton?

In the US the Democrats are in disarray after not only an embarrassing loss to Donald Trump but also their failure to win majorities in either the Senate or Congress.

Trump should never have been able to win the presidency, but alongside other factors the Democrats managed to make a mess of their selection – Hillary Clinton – and their campaign.

Is there any sign of learning from their mistakes and rebuilding their chances?

Howard Kurtz at Fox: After Hillary: Are the Democrats ready to move beyond Clintonism?

The question now: Has the Democratic Party moved on from Clintonism?

Both the left and right are asking that question as the party tries to rebuild in the Trump era. I have no idea who might emerge for 2020, given the strikingly thin bench, or whether the party wants to go further left or try to recapture the working-class voters that it lost to Trump.

It seems the Democrats haven’t really had that debate, even with the low-profile chairman’s race won by Tom Perez. But some in the media are starting to examine the rubble left by 2016.

It’s not that Hillary herself has a political future. In a Rasmussen poll, 58 percent of likely voters don’t want her to run again, while 23 percent would like to see that.

But a Clinton-like candidate might face the same lack of excitement for a program of incrementally improving government, even without her flaws as a candidate.

On the other hand, a Bernie-style populist could connect on issues like trade, but might simply be too liberal to win a general election.

But surely the Democrats can come up with someone fresher and newer than Clinton or Sanders.

Salon: To win, the anti-Trump resistance must learn from the Clinton campaign’s mistakes

What’s interesting is how Salon sees Clinton as having blundered by pretty much running as the anti-Trump:

“Of all the strategic blunders made by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the most consequential — apart from neglecting the Rust Belt states — may have been the campaign’s ill-advised decision to portray Donald Trump as an outlier in the GOP who did not represent true Republican values.

“In the early stages of her campaign, Clinton went out of her way to defend the Grand Old Party’s reputation and highlight some of the conservative critiques of Trump, so as to emphasize her opponent’s uniquely ‘deplorable’ nature.”

That “backfired spectacularly,” the piece says, by alienating progressives and boosting Trump’s underdog status.

“The grand irony here, of course, is that liberals — not leftists — are the ones who have started to sound increasingly like alt-right conspiracy theorists. While alt-right Info-Warriors spew their conspiracy theories about the deep state’s planning a coup against Trump or about former President Barack Obama’s wiretapping of Trump Tower, liberals have gone in the other direction, embracing their own overwrought conspiracy theories with an all-powerful Vladimir Putin at the center of it all.

“But Putin is not responsible for the Democratic Party’s losing control of nearly 1,000 state legislature seats and all three branches of government during the Obama years.”

It is yet to be proven whether Russia interfered with the US election but even if they did the Democrats should have been able to benefit from the allegations. Remarkably Trump won despite being linked with Russia.

Clinton was a poor choice but even then a decent campaign is likely to have succeeded. Trump didn’t win by much (a few hundred thousand votes in a few states made the difference).

The Democrats are in a mess of their own making.

Labour in the UK are also in a self inflicted mess.

Labor in Australia have been in disarray for years.

Labour in New Zealand is trying to make a comeback after struggling after Helen Clark lost in 2008 and stood down, but they are still languishing in polls and have conceded reliance on the Greens to try and compete in this year’s election.

Are these all coincidental messes? Or are left wing parties losing their way in the modern world with no hope of success unless they rethink and rebrand?

Irrelevant election numbers

A lot has been said about US election numbers like this:

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That equates to:

  • Hillary Clinton 48.3%
  • Donald Trump 46.2%

(Poll averages on the overall vote weren’t too far off the mark).

It’s of interest, to an extent. For one thing it demonstrates how Hillary Clinton’s campaign failed where it mattered – she won the overall vote, but lost the election war.

But those numbers are irrelevant in the archaic US democratic system.

The numbers that matter:

  • Donald Trump 302
  • Hillary Clinton 232

And:

  • Donald Trump 1 (president-elect)
  • Hillary Clinton 0 (political history)

Regardless of electoral college disparities, leaked emails, alleged Russian interference and Trump ludicrosity, in about a month’s time the US will have President Trump and they and the world will have to accept that and get used to it for probably at least four years.

Russia, FBI and hacked elections

Two articles of inter from last week on the US election – one saying that the consensus view of the CIA was that “Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected”, and the other a detailed analysis of ’10 crucial decisions’ that affected the presidential election.

Washington Post: Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

During the campaign Trump said a number of times that a rigged election was a serious concern, but he doesn’t seem to think this is a big deal – see Trump: Claim of Russia Meddling “Ridiculous,” Dems Making Excuses.

(With Kim Dotcom claiming that WikiLeaks may target next year’s New Zealand election this should be of some concern here).

Looking back through the presidential campaign Glenn Thrush at Politico: 10 Crucial Decisions That Reshaped AmericaNothing about the most dramatic campaign in memory was a foregone conclusion. The inside story of the pivotal choices that got us to President Trump.

It should be remembered that the election was eventually decided by I think about 50,000 votes in three states, so it was very close.

When deciding whether to contest the presidency Trump rated his chances at 10%.

This is a detailed analysis that’s worth reading if you are interested in what lead up to the result that shocked the world. The ten ‘crucial decisions’:

1. Hillary Clinton copies the Obama playbook. December 12, 2013.

But, in the end, Brooklyn simply failed to predict the tidal wave that swamped Clinton—a pro-Trump uprising in rural and exurban white America that wasn’t reflected in the polls—and his candidate failed to generate enough enthusiasm to compensate with big turnouts in Detroit, Milwaukee and the Philadelphia suburbs.

Either way, there was something missing that technocrats couldn’t fix: The candidate herself was deeply unappealing to the most fired-up, unpredictable and angry segment of the electorate—middle-income whites in the Middle West—and she couldn’t inspire Obama-like passion among her own supporters to compensate for the surge.

2016 wasn’t 2012 because Obama wasn’t the nominee.

2. Jeb Bush decides to run for president. December 16, 2014.

There wouldn’t have been a President Donald Trump without Jeb Bush. A rebel needs a crown to crush, and the wolfish insurgent found his perfect prey in this third Bush to attempt to claim the White House, a princeling of a family that by 2015 had come to represent everything angry GOP voters hated about their own party.

3. Donald Trump taps Corey Lewandowski as his campaign manager. January 7, 2015.

It was probably the single most important decision Trump made early in his campaign for the presidency and, true to form, the candidate made it without much consultation or due diligence, and without quite knowing what he was getting into.

“What do you think of my chances?” Trump asked Lewandowski as soon as he sat down in Trump’s office, according to a person familiar with the interaction.

“Five percent,” Lewandowski replied.

Trump countered with his own assessment: 10 percent.

“Let me propose a deal,” Trump then joked. “Let’s settle on 7½.”

4. Bernie Sanders doesn’t attack Clinton on her “damn” emails. October 13, 2015.

The second problem was more durable, utterly avoidable, entirely self-inflicted and ultimately damning: Clinton’s enemies were starting to weaponize the murky tale of her private email server, an issue that would do her permanent political damage, sap public trust and, eventually, hand Trump a winning issue. “It’s a cancer,” a longtime Clinton insider told meas her campaign was ramping up. “She’s her own worst enemy,” another said.

Lucky for Clinton that Sanders wasn’t her worst enemy. Sanders, an (uncommonly) principled politician who was as intent on running the campaign he wanted as in winning, attacked Clinton on the issues he felt were the most important. Under pressure, he would eventually bash Clinton on her refusal to release the text of her Wall Street speeches, her cozy relationship with fat cat donors, her late-in-the-day conversion to an opponent of trade deals. But that was only in later debates, and only after Clinton and her team had savaged Sanders on his gun control record.

Most of all, he flummoxed his own advisers by steadfastly refusing to attack Clinton on the issue that would hurt her most: the emails.

5. CNN shows Trump’s empty podium for 30 minutes. March 3, 2016.

This was symbolic of how obsessed media became with Trump coverage – in this case remarkable focussing on his absence rather than his presence.

But if Trump’s time was, literally, money for the networks, the cable-Trump marriage was also unprecedented in a way that threw the political coverage dangerously out of balance.

The absurdity of the situation was laid bare on March 3, 2016, when CNN, Fox and MSNBC prepared to air what was billed as Trump’s much-anticipated rebuttal to Mitt Romney’s claim that the GOP front-runner was a “phony” and a “fraud.” Trump was supposed to start talking at 1:30 p.m., but he was strategically, playfully late.

The live shot of a flag-backed podium in Maine sat empty for five, 10, 15, eventually 30 minutes of Donald-free empty space that illustrated the vacuity of the celebrity-driven frenzy that defined Trump’s early campaign. CNN officials dismissed the incident, arguing that the image was just that—a static picture—that provided a backdrop for a stream of talking-head banter, much of it critical of Trump.

For Trump, the point was clear: He was so much more important than any of his rivals that even his absence was more newsworthy than their presence, and the networks did nothing to dispel that view, airing his speeches in their entirety when no other candidate or even President Obama was afforded that privilege.

6. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio play patty-cake with Trump at the debates. August 6, 2015.

The only two candidates who ever really had a real chance to stop him—golden boy hawk Marco Rubio of Florida and Tea Party icon Ted Cruz of Texas—made the calculation that ignoring Trump, and letting him run amok in the early debates, was their best chance at self-preservation.

The decision by the two young senators—they are both just 45 years old today—may well go down as one of the most consequential wimp-outs in recent politics.

But it seemed to make perfect sense in the summer of 2015, when Rubio’s Capitol Hill-based circle and Cruz’s Houston-based operation simultaneously decided on a hands-off-Donald approach.

7. Trump insults the parents of a dead war hero. July 28, 2016.

The final night of the convention was supposed to be Clinton’s big night, and many of the reporters who crammed into the press section in the early evening of July 28 were busily pre-writing their big Hillary speech stories when Khizr Khan and his wife, Ghazala, walked onto the stage.

“Donald Trump: You’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution?” said Khizr Khan, whose son, a Muslim-American Army captain, had died protecting his fellow soldiers from a suicide bombing in Iraq in 2004.

Khan spoke, in a quavering monotone, about the injustice of Trump’s proposed Muslim immigration ban. By the time he pulled out a tiny dog-eared copy of the Constitution from his suit jacket pocket, the audience was on its feet, and reporters on press row were plucking out their ear buds to hear what he was saying. “I will gladly lend you my copy,” Khan told Trump, as his wife silently stood next to him, fighting back tears.

It was a critical moment in the election, or so it seemed at the time—“an appeal from a regular person for Trump to show some human decency,” in the words of former Jeb Bush adviser Tim Miller, “which he never does.”

Privately, Trump fumed about the Khan speech—he hated to absorb any insult without responding—even as the people around him, including Manafort, encouraged him to let it go. But there was, as always, no controlling Trump.

This is a concern about Trump as president, especially internationally. Some think that Trump a ‘telling it like it is’ tough guy stance will allow the US to dominate countries like China, others dread what it could precipitate.

The public hated it. A Fox News poll taken in the first week of August signaled to GOP leaders (wrongly, as it turned out) that Trump was cooked and could never recover: He dropped from running neck-and-neck with Clinton to 10 points down over the course of two weeks. “I thought that was it,” said one former Trump aide.

“If he loses,” Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, told me at the time, “his attack on Khans was the turning point.”

But here’s the thing: At that very moment, Mook’s own internal data was showing that Trump’s negative message overall—his “diagnosis of the problem” as Brooklyn called it—was resonating.

Clinton’s team laughed off Trump’s nomination speech. Yet her pollster John Anzalone and his team were stunned to find out that dial groups of swing state voters monitored during the speech “spiked” the darker the GOP nominee got.

8. Clinton decides to take a summer break. August 1, 2016.

Trump wasn’t dead. And the polls clearly showed that whatever he said or did, he still commanded between 36 and 43 percent of the national vote. The partisan divide was simply that stark, the animosity toward Clinton that real.

But it was a genuine boot-on-neck moment for Clinton’s Brooklyn operation.

Too bad it was the height of summer, and the Clintons had made plans they refused to change with their rich friends. So, the race almost, seemingly in the bag, Clinton came off the road, for a work-and-play semi-hiatus to regroup for the big fall push that saw her take four consecutive weekends off the trail, post-convention.

So at this moment of Trump’s maximum vulnerability, Clinton was work-vacationing with the likes of Jon Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney and Jimmy Buffett in the manses of Long Island, Beverly Hills, Martha’s Vineyard and Silicon Valley.

But Trump, surprisingly resilient and coachable when he needed to be, was to make masterful use of Clinton’s absence.

9. Trump goes scorched earth after Access Hollywood tape. October 7, 2016.

One month before Election Day, Donald Trump was hit by a bombshell that would have spelled instant electoral death for anybody without his chutzpah (or even a human-apportioned sense of shame).

On a Friday morning four weeks before the voting, the Washington Postobtained a hot-mic tape from a 2005 appearance on Access Hollywood in which Trump described in gross detail an incident in which he had sexually assaulted a woman who resisted his romantic entreaties.

The fallout was swift, damaging and seemingly campaign-killing.

The candidate’s daughter Ivanka, two people close to the family said, was mortified, and urged him to apologize immediately.

Trump’s natural instinct—stoked by Bannon’s attack-when-attacked attitude—was to give as little ground as possible.

One longtime adviser to Trump described the strategy this way: He couldn’t do anything about the tape—it was out there for everybody to hear—but he could stick with “his core brand” by reinforcing his refusal to play by the usual rules of politics.

Trump came out of it seen as he wanted to be: a defiant candidate who flouted rules of “political correctness” and whose in-your-face candor consistently registered in polls as the perceived attribute voters liked most about him. And anyways, it was a classic Trump move: When you’re caught doing something indefensible don’t even try to defend it—attack.

Trump, a guy who couldn’t seem to shut up, urged his surrogates to “go dark,” according to a former aide.

Trump’s numbers collapsed again, but Bannon never doubted that his pal could pull it out and urged Trump to indulge his most brazen showman’s impulses by turning damning on-tape proof that he was a sexual harasser into a populist crusade against the “rigged system.

10. Jim Comey sends a letter to Congress. October 28, 2016.

Clinton wanted to run her campaign her own way. To the frustration of her staff, that often entailed less retail campaigning: She insisted more often than not on flying back to her house in Chappaqua on most days, and held her debate prep sessions at a nearby conference center instead of doing them on-the-fly in battleground states, so she could combine cramming and campaigning.

That hesitation about “the campaigning part” was why, despite their confidence Clinton would pull out a win, many in her camp came to see the campaign as a high-stakes game of musical chairs: The candidate who had the worst final news cycle would probably lose.

It was Clinton.

On a sleepy Friday afternoon 10 days before the election, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter informing Congress that he had obtained a big new batch of emails pertaining to Clinton’s email server. It was a revelation widely (and inaccurately) cast as his decision to “reopen” the case, after having announced in early July that Clinton had been cleared of wrongdoing but had been reckless in setting up her private email server.

Top officials for both campaigns said the revelation—which turned out to be an inconsequential cache of previously parsed emails kept on the laptop of Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband, Anthony Weiner—was a game-changer in a race in which Clinton had little margin for error.

A campaign that was notable for Trump doing everything not by the book which kept shocking many, and for Clinton’s flawed candidacy and flawed campaign, two of the biggest deciding factors turned out to be Russian and FBI involvement.

It’s nothing new that Russia and the US interfere in elections of other countries but the extent Russia has allegedly done this in the US to this degree is unprecedented.

The way hacked emails have been used should be a concern around the world.

It’s not new – hacked emails and other communications featured in Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’ book launched early in New Zealand’s 2014 general election, as it turned out unsuccessfully. But I suspect that how that was done will have been noted and learned from.

WikiLeaks tried a different approach in the US election, drip feeding emails over a period of time. This certainly had an impact.

Ultimately FBI head James Comey’s interference probably swung the election in Trump’s favour at a crucial time, but that situation was set up and enabled by the hacking and the drip feeding.

Democracy is at real risk of being trashed by hacking.