Donna Brazile, 57, a proud New Orleans native and nationally-respected political strategist, has long exuded a passion for encouraging young people to vote, assist in the strengthening of the political system and to cast their hats in elections for public office, she herself first becoming interested in politics at the age of nine after one candidate promised to build a playground in her neighborhood.
And while she’s worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 to 2000 and bears the distinction of being the first African American to manage a presidential campaign (Al Gore, 2000), it’s her appointment as the former interim chairperson of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), first and very briefly in the spring of 2011, then again from July 2016 through February 2017, that may be the reason why she’s recently received an inordinate amount of both criticism and praise — particularly from members of her own party after publishing her critique of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign for president.
Since the release earlier this year of her book, “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House,” she’s traversed the country, sharing insights about her time as the DNC chairwoman and defending her analysis of what transpired during her tenure — and why, according to her inside perspective, Clinton lost to the least likely GOP candidate, Donald Trump.
She continued to remain adamant about her criticism and the challenges she faced as the DNC chair when she spoke before a packed audience on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at the National Press Club in Northwest.
When referring to the many critics of her book including current DNC Chair Tom Perez who still asserts that several of her more controversial claims stand “without merit,” she said (her critics can) “go to hell.”
She spoke about the intense pressure she faced as DNC chair, further noting that she did indeed once consider invoking her power to remove Clinton from the presidential ticket after she fainted while making an appearance in New York City — replacing Clinton’s running mate for vice president (Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine) with a Joe Biden-Corey Booker (New Jersey senator) ticket for the Democrats.
Brazile further asserts that few understand the overwhelming odds she faced in terms of being effective in her position, describing her tenure in terms of the emotional stress she endured, as “worse than Hurricane Katrina.”
Still, her explanation of some of her claims in her book have met with stark opposition and outright denial of her alleged “facts” from leading members of the DNC, most notably in their reputing her musings over whether the primaries had been rigged so Clinton would emerge victorious over Bernie Sanders and if Brazile had really had her hands tied after the Clinton campaign [Hillary for America] and the DNC embarked in a secret tryst involving fundraising procedures and the outcome for which they hoped after their agreed upon redirection of those funds.
Some say that Brazile’s book is little more than an angry woman attempting to get even — a sort of self-vindication narrative. And given the concluding sentiments in her book, one could easily agree with such criticisms.
Ironically, both in the opening and conclusion of “Hacks,” Brazile reveals that she’s sitting by the telephone — first waiting for thanks and praise from Clinton for her efforts during the convention and campaign, and later, from a relatively small HBCU that would ask her to give the university’s commencement speech when Brazile’s calendar stood adrift with plenty of openings.
In the final analysis, history will prove whether Brazile hit the mark or if she purposely led her readers down a road replete with dishonest, poorly-phrased assertions.