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Here we go again with the old, stupid analysis of the 2008 campaign

The NYTimes has a piece up about Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s new data guru.

Woah! Hillary hired a data guru?? This changes EVERYTHING. Wow, if she had only had this dude back in 2008, the whole campaign would have been different! He’s a game changer. He likes “social media”. That’s something new to the Clintons. Her supporters, you know, those old, uneducated, working class, mouth breathers have probably never even heard of twitter and Facebook and sophisticated stuff like that.

{{snicker!}}

Either the NYTimes is setting out to deliberately insult us and the Clinton campaign or it really believes that Barack Obama “won” the nomination due to his technological superpowers.

There is nothing wrong with bringing in new consultants and if Robby Mook can bring something special to the table by his mastery of SpotFire and other data analytical tools, more power to him.

But, please, let us dispense with the notion of Barack Obama “winning” through advanced and sophisticated use of data. That is not what happened. No, Obama “won” because a flood of money was pumped into the coffers of the Democratic party in February 2008 from a bunch of sophisticated wealthy donors on Wall Street and probably a good many of them were country club Republicans who were more than happy to flirt with the other side in order to avoid financial disaster that they knew was coming. They used that money to buy off super delegates, many of whom were running for office. The party put pressure on everyone to turn away from the Clintons.

Hillary was winning handily in February of that year. Her only problem at that time was that the party deliberately withheld her wins in Florida and Michigan in order to make it look like a tight race and that Barack Obama was starting to overtake her.

It was a matter of managed perceptions. That’s all. The use of data did not help Barack Obama in California, Florida, Michigan (where he wasn’t even on the ballot), Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Texas, blah, blah, blah, ad nauseum. He lost those states, sometimes by significant margins. Obama didn’t win any of these big Democratic states with the exception of, what? Illinois? He won places like Utah. OoooOOOooo! So much data to sift through in Utah. Indeed, the biggest scandal involving the Clintons was how they were betrayed by their own party in 2008.

As for the general election, Obama’s only real triumph was that he successfully ran against Sarah Palin.

Ta-da!

Can we just stop with these silly hagiographic legends of Obama’s strategic intelligence already?? Clinton’s contingent wasn’t old or unsophisticated. Oh, look! I can install, manage and use WordPress! I have a twitter account! I hate Facebook for many reasons but I know how users are manipulated on it. Indeed, I know how DailyKos was turned into a giant focus group for people like Robby Mook to data mine. There are many, many Clinton supporters who know how to use a computer, tablet, smart phone, etc. How does that make me different from an Obot except I actually know when I’m being manipulated?

It’s not that I’m irritated, frustrated or offended by the constant mischaracterization of Clinton’s contingent. It’s that this narrative of old, unsophisticated and technologically behind Clinton overlooks the reason why she was winning so many states and had such a devoted, dedicated following. What the media missed in 2008 was that Hillary Clinton came into her own in 2008. She started off tentatively, relying too heavily on Mark Penn’s own version of data analytics, but became burnished by the fire of being the perceived underdog whether that was true or not.

We saw her fight in the rain, on the back of flatbed trucks, through the heckles of “why won’t she quit??” and “brush the dirt of my shoulders” and “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one” and she kept on going and going like the Energizer Bunny. Adversity made her amazing. She was the one everyone wanted precisely because she wasn’t bought and paid for and gently carried over the finish line.

Data did not make Barack Obama a great politician. It didn’t even help him win. Take away the giant Charlotte’s Web that was paid for by America’s Most Wanted and you have an inexperienced, ruthlessly ambitious guy who has proven to be out of his depth, just as we predicted he would be.

So, it’s great to see Robby Mook join the throng. I hope he is as tirelessly devoted to her as she deserves and doesn’t, you know, sell her donors’ list to the highest bidder. Just do your job, Robby, and do it well. She is more than capable of doing the rest.

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