Donna Brazile, who was the chair of the Democratic National Committee from July 2016 until February 2017 (when Tom Perez stepped in to the role), has written a book with the evocative title Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Break-Downs that Put Donald Trump in the White House.
It’s worth recalling that Brazile was Vice President Al Gore’s campaign manager in 2000. So this is the second time she has been at the center of a presidential popular vote victory which nonetheless was an electoral vote defeat.
Her book has received a good deal of publicity of late. She makes a number of attention-attracting statements, such as: “three titanic egos – Barack, Hillary, and Debbie – had stripped the party to a shell for their own purposes.” The reference there is of course to the then-President, Barack Obama, to the Democratic candidate for President, Hillary Clinton, and to Brazile’s precursor as DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Schultz was forced to resign as chair after Wikileaks released emails indicating that she had worked to sabotage the campaign of Clinton’s primary rival, Senator Bernie Sanders.
The titular word “hacks,” is a pun. The word has at least two relevant dictionary meanings: the circumvention of computer/internet security measures, usually with malicious intent; or, amateurs who play a given game (tennis, golf, politics) at a mediocre level. The Wikileak release of material damaging to Wasserman Schultz, then, was in the view of this book a hack that brought down a hack.
Left Wing View
In the eyes of much of the center left, the political base of the Clinton family, this book is seen not so much as a diagnosis of what ails the Democratic Party but as a symptom itself. Osita Nwanevu, writing in Slate, calls Brazile “a craven, calculating striver, incapable of being trusted, and loyal not to ideas” but to careerism. She and “figures like her” constitute the “cancer” they presume to warn about, Nwanevu writes.
Jeff Stein, writing recently in Vox, took a friendlier view of the book and its author. He understands the central revelation of the book to be that “the DNC, when starved for financial resources, agreed to trade a seemingly large part of its autonomy for Clinton’s help raising money” in an agreement that was already in place as early as August 2015, while Wasserman Schultz was chair.
Sarah Jones, who seems to be a little to the left of Stein and a good deal to the left of Nwanevu, is an enthusiast of the book and endorses Stein’s view of the gist of it.
“As Brazile notes, it’s not unusual for a presidential candidate to take control of their party. But it is unusual for a primary candidate to clutch the reins quite as early and as tightly as Clinton did,” Jones says in The New Republic. “Brazile’s conclusion—that the funding agreement is legal, but unethical—is correct.”
Right Wing View
On the right, the prevailing attitude toward Brazile seems to be an old Nietzschean one, “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”
Scott Pressler, a conservative/Republican activist, tweeted thus: “Thanks to Hillary for buying the DNC for herself. Thanks to Debbie Wasserman Schultz for helping rig the election against Sanders. Thanks to Donna Brazile for admitting all of this.”
But Dean Chambers, writing at RedState, takes a longer view. He asks his fellow conservatives, before celebrating Brazile’s revelations, to ask themselves why she is making them.
On Chambers’ view, Brazile is part of a faction determined to run Michelle Obama for President in 2020. They want to discredit the Clintons in order to put the Obamas back in the White House.