early and often

The Bitchiest Moments From the Clinton-Campaign Memos

You guys! You’re doing a great job! I love you to DEATH!”Photo: Getty Images

Atlantic editor Joshua Green’s compilation of memos and e-mails from the Hillary Clinton campaign finally went live yesterday, and as we suspected, it’s a fascinating postmortem to a national project gone awry. The missives show a highly calculated strategy that often failed in execution because decisions were made by committee and often in a very slow fashion. As Green points out, Clinton herself was often the team’s best strategist, but she wouldn’t weigh in often enough or in time to avoid strife and panic. Her staffers, meanwhile, seem to have been just as toxic to one another as had been previously reported. There’s a lot to learn from the policy planning of the memos, but of course, we’d rather talk about all the bitchy stuff. So, below, we’ve collected our favorite catty moments — some directed within the campaign, some to rival candidates and the press, and the occasional rebuke from outside:

October 2006. From Mark Penn to early campaign staff: “Kerry is significantly damaged. Even though he has money in the bank, many will ask him not to run.”
December 21, 2006. From Mark Penn to top strategists: “The more you analyze what [Obama] says, the more you wonder what is behind the hype. No big original ideas. No incredible accomplishments for others, only for himself. No one could fill the expectations that have been built up for him.” And later: “A word about being human. Bill Gates once asked me, ‘Could you make me more human?’ I said, ‘Being human is overrated.’”

March 19, 2007. Mark Penn to strategy staff: “I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and his values. [Obama] told the people of NH yesterday that he has a Kansas accent because his mother was from there. His mother lived in many states as far as we can tell — but this is an example of the nonsense he uses to cover this up.”
January 13, 2008. All staff memo: “Anyone who is parked in the rear and does not have a parking permit please move your vehicle ASAP we need spots for Patti Solis-Doyle and her staff.”
February 11, 2008. From Washington Post managing editor Philip Bennett to campaign manager Maggie Williams: “Last week, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, Phil Singer, told Post reporter Matt Mosk that our colleague Anne Kornblut had been ‘fired’ by the New York Times. The assertion was an effort to demean Anne and disparage coverage of Sen. Clinton that the campaign might have found critical. IT was not the first time that a colleague had told Anne of a Clinton campaign official claiming that Anne had left the Times under a cloud.”
March 6, 2008. From Robert Barnett to Clinton and senior staff: “I have held my tongue for weeks. After this morning’s WP story, no longer. This makes me sick. This circular firing squad that is occurring is unattractive, unprofessional, unconscionable, and unacceptable. I know each and every one of you to be better than this.”
April 12, 2008. From Geoff Garin to top strategists: “I don’t mean to be an asshole, but … decision making can’t be a free for all if this campaign is to function efficiently and coherently.”

The Front-Runner’s Fall [Atlantic]

The Bitchiest Moments From the Clinton-Campaign Memos