SAN DIEGO – It didn’t take long for white liberals to start attacking Donna Brazile.
From its portals in media and politics, the vindictive left is in battle mode now that Brazile – a longtime Democratic strategist who became the first African-American to run a presidential campaign when she managed Al Gore’s bid for the White House in 2000 – has spilled the beans about how broken our political system really is.
Having served as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee during the final innings of the 2016 election, Brazile ought to know.
In her explosive new book, “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House,” she reveals a secret agreement that turned the DNC into a wholly owned subsidiary of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The Democratic front-runner handed over about $20 million to help get the DNC out of debt. In return, she got control of the inner workings of the organization, which is supposed to be neutral in the primaries. This included decisions about when to schedule debates, who should fill key posts and how messages should be shaped.
Clinton’s challengers for the nomination – Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, etc. – never had a chance. The fix was in.
When Brazile was recently pressed by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos – himself a Democratic loyalist who helped elect Bill Clinton president, worked in the Clinton White House, contributed to the Clinton Foundation, and joined in regular strategizing calls with top Democrats well into his conversion into a newsman – to say whether she thought the Democratic primaries were rigged, she responded that she found “no evidence” of that.
But Brazile strikes a different tone in her book, insisting that the agreement ensured that Democratic primary battle wasn’t a fair fight and that it “compromised the party’s integrity.”
Meanwhile, there is little integrity to be found in the graceless attacks on Brazile by liberals. In recent days, the Democratic Party insider has been called a “liar,” a “kook,” a “traitor” and worse. She has even be compared to – gasp! – Donald Trump for allegedly trafficking in rumors about the fragility of Hillary Clinton’s health.
About 100 former Clinton staffers and other Democrats signed an open letter saying that Brazile’s claims are “troubling” and “puzzling.”
Ground zero for the attacks is CNN – which ironically used to think highly enough of Brazile that it employed her as a contributor.
In a column on CNN.com, editor-at-large Chris Cillizza accused Brazile of “contradicting herself.” CNN anchor Anderson Cooper noted that it was Brazile who – before a Democratic primary debate – leaked a question to the Clinton campaign, which Cooper called “completely unethical.” And CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin pointed out that Brazile “lied” about passing along the debate question.
Still, character assassination aside, what Brazile has to say should concern the American people.
For one thing, it adds another explanation as to why the Democratic Party did such a masterful job of losing to the one Republican who should have been the easiest to beat: Trump. You would think Democrats would want to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes.
Moreover, Brazile’s accusations should be of special interest to those Democratic voters who supported – and, in some cases, even contributed money to – candidates not named “Hillary.” Even worse, imagine how silly you would feel if you also sent money to the DNC – the very entity that was, behind the curtain, working to deny your preferred candidate the title.
In any other field besides politics, that sort of shenanigan would be called “fraud.” And it would be illegal.
Brazile told Stephanopoulos that fellow Democrats who want to shut her up or at least discredit her can “go to hell.”
She has obviously been in a slow boil for some time over the condescending white liberals who run the Democratic Party. When she was at the DNC and she was told that she had to clear every decision with the Clinton campaign in Brooklyn, Brazile angrily declared that she wasn’t “Patsey the slave.”
Twelve years ago, I wrote a column where I excoriated liberals for expecting Latinos and African-Americans to be deferential and attacking those who aren’t. The left, I noted, prefers minorities who “ask for permission before they speak and make sure that what they say falls in line with the views of their liberal benefactors.”
Out of the blue, Brazile sent me an email praising the piece and congratulating me for writing it.
Now she is the one who refuses to be deferential. She has every right to tell her story. And don’t expect her to ask anyone for permission.
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is email@example.com. His daily podcast, “Navarrette Nation,” is available through every podcast app.