Even if you've grown tired of the nauseating "everybody is to blame but Hillary" literary genre, you still have to give Palmieri's "Dear Madam President" props for at least graphically feeling our pain while she goes to great gut-wrenching lengths to blame everybody but Hillary for losing: particularly, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Former FBI Director James Comey, Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange, and Donald Trump; and more generally, millions of anonymous sexist men. And of course, Palmieri also beats herself up on almost every other page. Masochism does have its rewards:
The money quote in the book comes early:Friends, #DearMadamPresident is a NYT bestseller!!! I may faint. So grateful to all who bought the book & see their own story reflected in it. Please continue to tell your family & friends. Word of mouth & belief in your own power is how this happened. So grateful 🙏 ❤️ pic.twitter.com/bQf211J…2 hours ago · Twitter
"We (Hillary's campaign staff) failed. It was on us to save America and we let her blow up."
(I think Palmieri is referring to the country, and not to her candidate. I can only surmise that the publishing deadline must have gotten in the way of the editing.)
Palmieri is the campaign communications director who, just one day after the election, helped set in motion the Russiagate propaganda franchise and the beginnings of Cold War 2.0. So it's telling that she readily admits in her memoir that she was not living in a reality-based community in the days and months following the election.
"This campaign is going to have to go all the way to December 19 and win the electoral college. Another five grueling weeks of campaigning in overtime. Then we'll look back on this bleak Wednesday when we get a glimpse of what life would be like in the dark, parallel universe where Donald Trump actually won, and we'll laugh "'Remember how unfathomably awful that Wednesday morning felt?'"Do we ever, especially as the Cold War turns into a Warm War, threatening to blow us up. And given the unfathomable campaign that is Russiagate and the interminable sore-loser war being waged by Hillary herself, it's the booby prize that keeps on giving.
But this isn't about you, the "people", and it never was. "And now she suffers this," Palmieri laments, claiming that Hillary had this "cosmic foreboding of disaster" even before she had to be "convinced" by the Democratic Party to enter the race in the first place.
The memoir, which purports to be an extended inspirational pep talk to some mystery woman who will one day become the president of the United States, actually comes across like a discouraging dud. To be fair, Palmieri admits she hastily cobbled her slim tome together only after the "Game Change 3.0" movie she was working on with accused sexual harasser Mark Halperin fell apart. The #MeToo movement is what she says then "empowered" her to tell her own story.
"Brace yourself," she chides her hypothetical Madam President. "Nothing draws fire like a woman moving forward."
You have to keep in mind when reading this memoir that it's the job description of a political communications pro to spit words out in quick, easily digestible, sloganeering soundbites. If you're a centrist Democrat, it's also smart to emulate Facebook COO and bestselling author Sheryl "Lean In" Sandberg, who is currently missing in action.
You don't even have to worry about always writing the absolute truth, as in Palmieri's preposterous claim in Chapter One that Hillary was the first woman to run for the Senate. I think she probably meant she was the first First Lady ever to run for the Senate. What happened to her pal Dianne Feinstein, to name just one? The longest-serving woman, Margaret Chase Smith, must be rolling in her grave and choking on her cigar.
"Before I delve into all that happened in the campaign, I want to be clear that while misogyny and sexism were a problem on the campaign trail, I don't believe that everyone who voted against Hillary did so for sexist reasons," Palmieri allows, before glibly double-talking it with "But I do think we encountered an unconscious but pervasive gender bias that held Hillary back in many ways."
One of Hillary's biggest problems, Palmieri writes with an apparent straight face, was that she wasn't self-centered enough. She was too invested in "helping others." If only people didn't praise her all the time for "serving" as a male president's Secretary of State instead of for her actual alleged accomplishments in that and other posts! According to the author, public service as it's applied to women politicians is too uncomfortably close to the stereotype of women as caregivers.
More tidbits, all presented as concerned warnings for any future "Madam President":
-Hillary's private email server was an issue "we just couldn't put to bed." It was unfair that people demanded that Hillary apologize for something that hurt her, and only her. "The American people weren't the injured party here," Palmieri sniffs. "They didn't want her to apologize. They wanted her to confess to a crime." Harrumph.
-It is absolutely necessary to keep reliving and rehashing the Hillary Clinton campaign in order to clear the path for the next woman president, who will be inundated by haters as Proxy Hillary. The Clintonites have to keep complaining and blame-gaming to try to altruistically "sort everything out" for the sole benefit of the future female candidate.
-Jennifer Palmieri, as a self-proclaimed member of the permanent political establishment, is not ashamed to name-drop early and name-drop often. She's been in the "world's most powerful rooms" -- the Oval Office, the prime minister's inner sanctum at No. 10 Downing Street, the German Chancellor's office in Berlin, the Blue House in Seoul, the Imperial Palace in Tokyo... even The Kremlin! This memo to a future Madam President obviously doubles as her C.V. and job application. As Obama's deputy communications director, for example, she was a member of the Boys' Club and she knew when to "lean forward". This was easy, mainly because Obama was so adept at relieving the stress she chronically felt over the gossip rag stories in Politico. Obama sounds like Valium in a suit with a Zen chaser.
-Hillary's female campaign staffers, on the other hand, were way too "zipped-up and agreeable" - and stoic. If only Palmieri had cried more, she might not have landed in the hospital in August 2016 due to an unspecified illness whose after-effects still bother her. Hillary was actually nice enough to send her a get-well OMG!! email in ALL CAPS. And then Hillary came down with pneumonia. Neither of them took care of themselves, and that is a very toxic thing that women do to themselves. "Let's nod less and cry more... crying isn't a sign of weakness, it's the ultimate female power play!" she writes. And you'll pleasantly discover that whenever the fawning media cover your meltdown, they're apt to say trite things like "she was visibly moved" or "she got all choked up." So accepting defeat graciously with a stony face is just so yesterday.
-When the Obamacare Marketplace website crashed in 2013, it was kind of a "silly crisis" and despite the media hype nowhere near as bad as the Ebola outbreak. There was no time for crying then, though, because there was too much positive spinning to be done. Palmieri stoically found a few people who had successfully signed up for health insurance, and then she put them right on TV. Zen Master Obama, though, wisely cautioned her that the story wasn't going away until they got the website working. What a stress-reliever he was! So all they had to do was sell a story that "the work was being done" and set up a few photo ops of nerds tinkering with the computers, and it all worked out so well in the end.
-After James Comey reopened the email investigation right before the election, Hillary bought a tearful Huma Abedin and Jennifer ice cream sundaes to cheer them up, and everybody acted very stoical and pretended not to care.
- Jennifer Palmieri's facial wrinkles tell a story she wants the world to see. "Embrace your battle scars," she says to her Madam President. "They will show us all what you endured in your life and in this job."
-Palmieri and other operatives thought Hillary Clinton's biography wasn't all that compelling. Hillary hadn't had enough struggles in her life. But that's our fault, too, for not appreciating her innate value "in real time." Still, Palmieri has to agree that Hillary does have a grating voice. To which criticism Hillary responded, "What would really help Hillary is if they could tell you the name of a woman on the world stage who does it exactly right."
(Oh, I don't know... Oprah?)
-Hillary's Blame Game Tour has been so worth it. "She keeps going, and eventually her story was heard. In the end, much of the press ended up applauding her candor during her book tour," Palmieri writes approvingly.
What end? As far as Hillary is concerned, it's always the cosmic and candid and authentic beginning. Again and again and again. She might even think that Palmieri's book is an encouraging paeon to her, Hillary 3.0. And she probably wouldn't be wrong.