Donna Brazile writes in her new book that after Hillary Clinton fell ill with pneumonia in September 2016, she considered replacing the Democratic nominee with Vice-President Joe Biden, the Washington Post reported on Saturday:
In an explosive new memoir, Brazile details widespread dysfunction and dissension throughout the Democratic Party, including secret deliberations over using her powers as interim DNC chair to initiate the removal of Clinton and running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) from the ticket after Clinton’s Sept. 11, 2016, collapse in New York City.
Brazile writes that she considered a dozen combinations to replace the nominees and settled on Biden and Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), the duo she felt most certain would win over enough working-class voters to defeat Republican Donald Trump. But then, she writes, “I thought of Hillary, and all the women in the country who were so proud of and excited about her. I could not do this to them.”
On Thursday, Brazile caused a stir when the first excerpt of the book, Hacks, was published on Politico. In it, Brazile wrote that the Democratic National Committee, which she took control of in 2016, had “rigged” the primary for Hillary Clinton, in part by instituting a quid pro quo system that would give Clinton full control of the organization. The seemingly explosive claim helped reanimate the acrimonious, seemingly never-quite-ending struggle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders partisans. But NBC News later reported that the joint agreement in question only applied to the general election, a claim that took much of the sting out of Brazile’s allegations, since such an arrangement has been standard operating procedure for many years.
Her Biden deliberation story seemed more immediately ripe for debunking: The Democratic National Committee chair does not have the power to unilaterally remove a candidate. The Washington Post updated its story on the book Saturday afternoon to clarify that Brazile knew the process would be more complicated.
Still, in the context of what seems to be a pattern of exaggeration, reactions to Saturday’s revelations ranged from dismay to comic disbelief.
Brazile’s book is full of incendiary commentary, the Post reports. She writes that the entire Clinton campaign carried “the odor of failure,” and recounts her personal problems with several top aides, including campaign manager Robby Mook. She writes about an exchange in which she told three campaign officials to stop treating her like “Patsey the slave,” a reference to the movie 12 Years a Slave. She calls President Obama, Clinton, and ex–Democratic National Committee head Debbie Wasserman Schultz “three titanic egos” who had “stripped the party to a shell for their own purposes.”
Most bizarrely, she writes of fearing for her life after the murder of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer whose death has been the locus of deranged Republican conspiracy theories surrounding WikiLeaks and Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Whether Brazile’s apparent fabulism will be dismissed as a bookselling stunt or cause any real internecine conflict among Democrats is unclear. But with a pivotal, uncomfortably close gubernatorial election just around the corner in Virginia, one thing’s for sure: The timing for a massive distraction for the party could scarcely be worse.
This story has been updated to include the Post’s clarification of Brazile’s account.