The only thing worse than America's quadrennial exercise in pretending to care who gets to be president is the books that come afterward.
The distinguishing feature of these books is that they are not really books at all in the sense of being something that people read for pleasure. They exist for the sole purpose of being speculated about, excerpted, chopped up, and pasted into hundreds of scooplets by breathless journalists days and weeks before they are actually published.
The latest 2016 rehash is Donna Brazile's Hacks, a book we should all ignore. Slapdash, pseudo-confessional ("I lit a candle in my living room and put on some gospel music"), and full of strained dialogue that might have appeared in one of the Star Wars prequels, it is the kind of thing that only people who have written more books than they've ever dreamed of reading could not feel insulted by. If D.C. insiders believe unscripted human beings really talk like this in private, they are dumber than even Trump voters give them credit for being:
"What?" I screamed. "I am an officer of the party and they've been telling us everything is fine and they were raising money with no problems." [...]
"No! That can't be true!" I said. "The party cannot take out a loan without the unanimous agreement of all of the officers." [Hacks]
When an excerpt from Brazile's memoir appeared in Politico, it was greeted with enthusiasm and even praised in some quarters for its candor among other literary qualities. At first Brazile seemed happy to accept this characterization. Then something changed and she began to appear on television lashing out at any reporter who suggested that she had claimed the Democratic primary was "rigged." Has she actually read her own book?
I had tried to search out any other evidence of internal corruption that would show that the DNC was rigging the system to throw the primary to Hillary, but I could not find any in party affairs or among the staff. I had gone department by department, investigating individual conduct for evidence of skewed decisions, and I was happy to see that I had found none. Then I found this agreement. [Hacks]
If you say that you could not find "evidence" of something at first but "then" you did, you are, in fact, saying that you found the something in question. It is not even possible to interpret this seeming about-face as a result of sloppy writing on her part that led to misinterpretation from readers. The fundraising agreement between Hillary Clinton's campaign and the DNC was public knowledge last year before the DNC leaks; to have written about it in this ludicrously sensational manner — she tells us that she sobbed when she first called Bernie Sanders to tell him about it — means you were going out of your way to argue that there was "rigging."
Surely her backtracking could have nothing to do with the publication of an open letter signed by John Podesta, Robby Mook, Huma Abedin, and other Clintonite pals (or ex-pals as the case may be) dismissing her non-allegations and claiming that Brazile was a dupe of unnamed Russian propagandists. Nor is this likely to be the only point in the book about which she changes her mind post-publication; having claimed that she seriously considered replacing Clinton with Joe Biden in September 2016, it must no doubt have come as a shock to her that the former vice president has no memory of such a thing ever being floated. How long before she starts insisting that she made no such claim?
On this and dozens of other points it is impossible to get a handle on what, if anything, Brazile really believes. She says in her book that she spoke tearfully about the "weakness" of Clinton with Sanders back in August 2016 despite maintaining in a recent interview with NPR that he had no chance of winning the general election. Why bother calling him then and asking for his help if he was such a loser? And why did Hillary herself lose? Again, Brazile cannot make up her mind, even in the course of the same interview. It might have been because of something she refers to as "the hack," by which she means the leak of documents that revealed the extent of the long-suspected collusion between the Clinton campaign and the DNC — something she is now committed to dismissing as irrelevant anyway, since no rigging took place. A few sentences later she writes of her "respect" for "those who are more educated about algorithms and data analytics," people whose insights she rejects as worthless by the end of the same paragraph.
But none of this matters anyway, according to Brazile. Despite having not only written a book about it but also approved a lurid excerpt of the same pages for consumption in Politico and done goodness knows how many television and radio interviews on the subject, she says now that she would like to "move on" from "2016 drama." Wouldn't we all? But this, she claims, was really the point of her book all along.
Brazile's behavior, bizarre as it might seem, is not inexplicable. The common denominator in all her utterances is herself, her fearless regard for the truth, her fundamental humanity and decency in the face of squalid corruption that may or may not exist, her infinite good will versus the venality and crookedness of her enemies. In common with Biden and the Clintons, and indeed most of our politicians, the key to understanding Brazile is not greed — though her advance for this book was no doubt enormous — or even a love of power for its own sake, much less a desire to make the country or the world a better place, but rather a deep-seated sense of entitlement to our time and interest.
No one should pay any attention to her attention-grabbing shenanigans.