Inside Clinton's Dysfunctional War Machine

How the primary effort failed
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2008 2:26 PM CDT
Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., speaks at a campaign event in Watertown, S.D. Thursday, May 29, 2008.    (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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(Newser) – There are many reasons for Hillary Clinton’s primary defeat, and most of them can be found within the political warrior and the creaking war machine she built, Gail Sheehy writes in Vanity Fair. Invoking the Lincoln administration, Clinton called her bickering advisers a “team of rivals.” Craving secrecy and shaped by White House battle scars, she chose a trustworthy cabal of loyalists—who hated each other.

Though the hierarchy was disastrously unclear, Mark Penn’s constant call to attack, to be “tougher than any man,” caught Clinton’s ear. It appealed to the natural fighter in her. “What Bill doesn’t understand is, you’ve got to do the same thing: pound the Republican attack machine and run against the press,” she told Sheehy in 1992. Faced with an opponent who refused to attack, Hillary crumbled.