I just spent, oh, the last hour and a half reading Roger Simon’s dauntingly well-reported piece for the Politico on how Barack Obama managed to beat the Clinton juggernaut. (Chuck Todd was praising it on Tom Ashbrook’s show this morning. Do we really believe he had time to read it?)
Like Joshua Green’s Atlantic article on what went wrong with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, it is full of insight and nuance. And, like Green’s piece, I ultimately found it unsatisfying. Here’s the problem: No one other than a political junkie is going to read such a story. And we political junkies have been living all this in real time for many, many months.
Both Simon and Green remind us of details we might have forgotten, skillfully weave a mass of information into coherent narratives and come up with some previously unreported nuggets. (Green: Mark Penn is smarter and more awful than we thought. Simon: Obama’s brain-trusters actually believed they could knock Clinton out in the opening weeks of the primary season.) In the end, though, they don’t do much more than tell us what we already know.
If there’s one thing of value I learned from the two accounts, it’s that no one should believe the Democrats would be in better shape today if Clinton had won the nomination — especially if she had won it easily, and had not had to put her dysfunctional campaign staff to the test.
OK, two. I think it’s a pretty good bet that Simon and Green are going to write books about this historic campaign. At nearly 16,000 words, Simon’s article is already about a quarter of the way there.