Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hilzoy on the Clinton style

Up close and personal. This is one valentine that Hillary Clinton would be pleased not to get.

Hilzoy starts by admitting to a lukewarm but positive default attitude about Mrs. Clinton. But the last few days reveal [yet another] dark underside to her management style. Solis Doyle, HRC's former campaign manager, is put under a microscope showing her most conspicuous trait, that she was "the boss from hell."

Valuing loyalty over competence is a terrible trait in a manager. But so are other things that come through in this piece: putting off decisions that obviously need to be made, for instance, and letting personnel problems fester rather than resolving them, and having subordinates who "protect" you from bad news that you really need to know. But the one that particularly struck me -- which is why I quoted Greene at such length -- was this: In 2006, Solis Doyle first burned through an extraordinary amount of money in 2006 -- the NYT story Greene quotes says that the campaign spent "$27,000 for valet parking, paid as much as $800 in a single month in credit card interest and — above all — paid tens of thousands of dollars a month to an assortment of consultants and aides." She then demonstrably lied about the campaign's financial situation in ways that angered Clinton's base of donors. Various Clinton insiders, including (according to Greene) Terry McAuliffe and Maggie Williams -- tried to get her fired. And yet Clinton hired her to manage her Presidential campaign.

Rewarding incompetent people because they are loyal is bad. But rewarding incompetent people who lie to the public and to your donors is worse. Lying to the public is both wrong and stupid: it brings your name into disrepute, and that's not good for anyone, least of all a politician. Lying to your donors is also wrong and stupid: wrong, since you presumably ought to feel some loyalty towards the people who have donated to your campaign, and stupid because they are the last people on earth whose trust you should abuse. Solis Doyle's performance in 2006 should have meant that she was not hired for any position of responsibility ever again. Instead, Hillary Clinton made her campaign manager.

The comment thread is in this case instructive. Smart, thoughtful community of readers over there, but this is literally a sad commentary.

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