Conspiracy theory? Brazile seriously considered replacing Clinton as nominee due to her health

Despite many videos that called into question the health of Hillary Clinton during the campaign, the media immediately and summarily dismissed the speculation about Clinton's fitness to serve as a "conspiracy theory."

But Donna Brazile, former interim chairman of the Democratic National Committee, didn't think Clinton's health was a conspiracy theory. In her new book,  “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House,” Brazile says she seriously considered replacing Clinton at least partly because of her ill health.

The Washington Post has extended excerpts from the book, which is due out Tuesday.

Former Democratic National Committee head Donna Brazile writes in a new book that she seriously contemplated setting in motion a process to replace Hillary Clinton as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee with then-Vice President Biden in the aftermath of Clinton’s fainting spell, in part because Clinton’s campaign was “anemic” and had taken on “the odor of failure.”

In an explosive new memoir, Brazile details widespread dysfunction and dissension throughout the Democratic Party, including secret deliberations over using her powers as interim DNC chair to initiate the process of removing Clinton and running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) from the ticket after Clinton’s Sept. 11, 2016, collapse in New York City.

Brazile writes that she considered a dozen combinations to replace the nominees and settled on Biden and Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), the duo she felt most certain would win over enough working-class voters to defeat Republican Donald Trump. But then, she writes, “I thought of Hillary, and all the women in the country who were so proud of and excited about her. I could not do this to them.”

Brazile paints a scathing portrait of Clinton as a well-intentioned, historic candidate whose campaign was badly mismanaged, took minority constituencies for granted and made blunders with “stiff” and “stupid” messages. The campaign was so lacking in passion for the candidate, she writes, that its New York headquarters felt like a sterile hospital ward where “someone had died.”

The way the media approached the Clinton health issue was to seize upon the most outrageous, loony theory on the right and try to pass that off as typical of the kind of speculation that Clinton opponents were pushing.

It wasn't so much Clinton's stumbling several times that was caught on video or the alarming coughing fits that seized her on the stump. It was the unconvincing explanations for these episodes coming from the Clinton camp that anyone with two brain cells working would wonder about.

But the press was so wrapped up in preventing a Trump victory that they suddenly became uncurious about the candidate's health. But Brazile was anything but uncurious and seriously considered alternatives to Clinton.

About 100 former members of Clinton's staff penned an open letter that is remarkable for its obtuseness about questions regarding Hillary Clinton's health.

 “It is particularly troubling and puzzling that she would seemingly buy into false Russian-fueled propaganda, spread by both the Russians and our opponent, about our candidate's health.”

Russians or Trump didn't have to "spread" anything. Anyone with two eyes who saw Hillary Clinton stumble several times and erupt into long coughing fits on the stage during a speech would think that questions about Clinton's health were self-evident.

Brazile obviously thought so.

Another curious excerpt references the murder of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer killed by a mugger. The media lit into the right for even suggesting some kind of conspiracy. They used a similar method to dismiss speculation as they tried with Clinton's health, taking the most outrageous and ludicrous speculation about Rich's killing to portray any questions asked as nutty.

Brazile may have thought differently:

Brazile writes that she was haunted by the still-unsolved murder of DNC data staffer Seth Rich and feared for her own life, shutting the blinds to her office window so snipers could not see her and installing surveillance cameras at her home. She wonders whether Russians had placed a listening device in plants in the DNC executive suite.

Will the press now call out Brazile as a right wing conspiracy nut?

At bottom, the problem is a political press corps that puts partisanship above getting to the truth. There are still many unanswered questions about the Seth Rich murder that should have been addressed if we had a press corps even modestly interested in getting the facts of the case out in the open. Of course, it doesn't help that wild speculation about the murder hurt the Rich family and made asking questions seem silly. But the total lack of curiosity to question the official police timeline and story only drove the speculation even more into the fever swamps.

As for Hillary's health, that open letter from staffers confirms that they are sticking with the narrative and the only thing wrong with Clinton during the campaign was a mild case of pneumonia. That may well be true. But since the press refused to dig into the entire question of Clinton's fitness for office, what else are we supposed to believe?

Brazile is obviously getting a lot of flak. But her impressions of the campaign and of the candidate herself are an eye opening look at a party that's still dysfunctional and horribly divided.

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