by Rev. Irene Monroe
Since the election of Donald Trump, most Americans on both sides of the political aisle feel American democracy is under siege. The infighting going on in both the Democratic and Republican camps has cast a pall on the country’s future. And neither party, at present, can tamp down the support nor enthusiasm some have for establishment outsiders like Vermont US Senator Bernie Sanders and President Donald J. Trump—even with his declining approval rating.
In this environment of the falling Republic, Donna Brazile has written a book titled “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.”
Brazile, an LGBTQ ally, is the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the first African-American to manage a presidential campaign, and a longtime Democratic strategist with the reputation inside the Beltway as “a one-stop shop for fixing sticky problems.”
Amazon depicts “Hacks” as “equal parts campaign thriller, memoir, and roadmap for the future.” But truth be told, Hacks” has detonated a political bombshell with mixed reviews.
“This book is a triumph,” Walter Isaacson wrote, who’s the biographer of New York Times best sellers “Steve Jobs”, “Einstein”, and now “Leonardo da Vinci.”
However, the responses to Brazile’s book resonates more with what Jonathan Capehart, the first openly black gay male and member of the Post editorial board, tweeted: “Gurrrll, what happened? People are mad. By people I mean Democrats.”
“Hacks” has two narrative strands: one story of the Russians relentless hacking into DNC computers. And, the other story about the colossal missteps of the Clinton campaign and her tight-fisted one-sided financial control of the party a year before her nomination revealing sadly how the process was rigged against Sanders.
In Brazile’s inimitable no-holds-barred fashion she further asserts that “three titanic egos – Barack, Hillary, and Debbie stripped the party to a shell for their own purposes.”
Brazile’s assertions about the Russian hacking are not being disputed. However, it’s the rest of the story has those inside the DNC scratching their heads that nearly 100 members of Clinton’s campaign team wrote a letter saying, “ We do not recognize the campaign she portrays in the book.”
Brazile’s inflammatory “cancer” and “slave” references not only roiled the DNC but stirred up both Bernie supporters and African American voters nervously concerned, respectfully.
“I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process,” Brazile wrote. Months later Brazile wrote Bernie back. “Hello, senator. I’ve completed my review of the DNC and I did find the cancer. But I will not kill the patient.”
With Senator Elizabeth Warren concurring that the DNC was indeed rigged in Clinton’s favor the statement cast a pall about our electoral process honoring fair play.
And, with race being the third rail in this country, Brazile’s statement “I am not Patsy the slave” —referring to Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o’s character in the 2013 film “”Twelve Years a Slave,”—doesn’t help the DNC, already perceived as racist and cheaters. and, now they’ll certainly have an uphill battle trying to win over African American millennials and Bernie supporters.
I get Brazile’s anger. She felt dissed by the DNC, even though she worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000. Brazile’s anger about being tethered to the tight-fisted, one-sided financial control of the party to promote Clinton’s campaign and not promote those on the down-ballot her frustration is understood. However, she lodges her complaints in a manner that appears more like out of desperation than determination.
Brazile is unarguably one of the most known and important and powerful women in politics of the last three decades. I’ve enjoyed following her political career. She’s a political icon, like Maxine Waters, and sisters like myself love and revere her and want her to stick around.
In August 2009, O, The Oprah Magazine chose Ms. Brazile as one of its 20 “remarkable visionaries” for the magazine’s first-ever O Power List. In addition, she was named among the 100 Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian magazine, Top 50 Women in America by Essence magazine, and received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s highest award for political achievement. And, the black community thanks her for her public service.
On October 4, Harvard awarded Brazile with the W.E.B. Dubois Medal. It’s given to outstanding individuals who “have made significant contributions to African and African American history and culture, and more broadly individuals who advocate for intercultural understanding and human rights in an increasingly global and interconnected world.”
“Hacks” hit bookshelves on November 7 and bookstores across the country have been trying to keep up with its demands. On Tuesday, November 14, Brazile came to the Harvard Coop in Cambridge to talk about her book. She spoke to a not-so-rapt audience of Sanders supporters and Clinton die-hard fans. Brazile’s responses during the Q&A were lackluster, but of a much better tone than you hear in the book.
I’ve read Brazile’s book, and everyone who has read it has challenged her assertions in the book, sadly even sister-friends in her corner—Whoopi, Sunny, and Oprah’s Gale, to name a few.
I posit that Brazile may very well be speaking truth to power but the tone of the book and the interpretations of events read more like a revenge narrative than objectively reporting the facts in trying to salvage what’s left of this American democracy.