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Opinion ‘The condescension was amazing’: Donna Brazile unloads

Donna Brazile speaks during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)
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“Gentlemen, let’s just put our d—s on the table and see who’s got the bigger one. Because I know mine is bigger than all of yours.”

The sensation and anger caused by the chapter on Bernie Sanders in the new book about the 2016 presidential campaign from Donna Brazile isn’t all there is to “Hacks: The inside story of the break-ins and breakdowns that put Donald Trump in the White House.” Reading the book will reveal two stories told at once: how the Russians hacked into the computers of the Democratic National Committee and Brazile’s frustration with Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook and the other men running the Democratic presidential nominee’s campaign in Brooklyn.


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“I have worked with men all my life in politics, and I can sense when they get to this part about not being able to deal with a woman. This was not a racial thing. This was a gender thing,” Brazile said reading from her book in the latest episode of “Cape Up.” That came before she issued her anatomical challenge, which she explained further.

You know, Jonathan, from time to time you deal with big, swinging d—s. You ever dealt with a big swinging d—? A big, swinging d— is really an a——. Okay? It’s someone who believes simply because they are men they can tell women what to do….
Now, let’s do a reality [check]. I don’t have one. But I pretended to have one. I just felt like, “Hell I got power, too. Put ’em on the table. I got one. I got one.” And let me tell you something. I wasn’t using that as any other kind of metaphor other than to say men should allow women to have their own power and own their power and not make us feel as though to have power we have to be a man.

That was not the only battle Brazile wrote about. There was the one over her request for end-of-campaign funding where she invoked the whipped image of “Patsy the slave,” the character played by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o in the 2013 film “12 years a slave.” “I was trying to do my job. I mean, what did they expect me to do? I screamed at them. I did cuss them out.” Brazile told me. “I cussed them out too much. I’ve washed my mouth out with cabernet and chardonnay, and I will wash my mouth out again.”

Brazile spells out the crux of the contentious relationship with Brooklyn on Page 124. “The common wisdom was that my inability to accept that things were different now was what was making me so feisty (meaning ‘unpleasant to work with’), but the truth was that no matter how much noise I made, my thoughts were irrelevant to them,” writes the woman who was Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign manager. “I saw myself as making a sacrifice to help the party. They saw me as desperate for significance and trying to claw my way back into the national conversation.” Brazile explained further during our conversation.

I had been involved in politics all my adult life, with so many campaigns, as an activist. And when I walk into the room, I don’t wanna be told that I have to ask permission. I am the chair of the party. I have run, not just run presidential campaigns, I have been active in 11 presidential seasons, over 21 non-presidential seasons. If there’s one thing I know is the country. I may not know a lot about things that I cannot figure out because I don’t have time to do it, but I know about campaigns. And the condescension was just amazing.

Brazile’s adversaries in Brooklyn didn’t bother her nearly as much as what the Russians were doing to the DNC. It was the reason she cited when I asked her why she wrote the book. “I wrote this book to explain to the American people what the hacking was all about,” Brazile said, “How they got into our system. What they did with the data. How they tried to discredit our nominee. But most importantly how they tried to weaken our democracy.”

The legend of Donna Brazile: Why the DNC turned to an old pro in its time of need

Listen to the podcast to hear Brazile explain why “this was one of the most sophisticated hacking, cyberespionage campaign probably in the history of the world.” And hear her talk about the stunning sequence of events on Oct. 7, 2016, that would change the trajectory of the presidential campaign. “On Oct. 7th, I thought Donald Trump would lose the election,” Brazile told me. “And you know what happened? The bots took over.”

“Cape Up” is Jonathan’s weekly podcast talking to key figures behind the news and our culture. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever else you listen to podcasts.