The plas­tic can­di­date with the Astroturf cam­paign

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY JOSEPH CURL

When Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton an­nounced by video, not live and in per­son — that she is run­ning for pres­i­dent, she de­clared that “ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans need a cham­pion, and I want to be that cham­pion.”

Then, she took of in a “van” dubbed by Clin­to­ni­ans the “Scooby Doo,” af­ter the lov­able car­toon dog prone to high jinks.

But as with ev­ery­thing else Clin­ton, the strat­egy to hu­man­ize Hil­lary — a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire who hasn’t driven since 1996 and can’t re­mem­ber the last time she got her own morn­ing cof­fee — has been a sur­real ex­er­cise in ab­sur­dity.

First, there was the video. The 2:19 clip hit all the touch­stones: There were blacks and whites and His­pan­ics and chub­bies and skin­nies and gays and straights and men and women (and men with men and women with women). The quick-cut flurry sought to por­tray the peo­ple in the video as sim­ply Clin­ton fans whom the film­maker had skill­fully tracked down and cap­tured in off-the-cuff ado­ra­tion.

But they were noth­ing of the kind. In­stead, they were cam­paign vol­un­teers for Hil­lary’s last run, or Demo­cratic donors. All were ap­proached by Team Clin­ton and asked to ap­pear in the video. And all were given scripts with ex­actly what to say for the seem­ingly “can­did” video.

Then there was the “van.” Un­like the beat-up old beater in the “Scooby Doo” car­toons, this one was brand-new, shiny black, with an ex­tended top (so high one can stand up­right in­side). It was, as it turned out, a Se­cret Ser­vice van, out­fit­ted with a 29-inch flat-screen TV, a Blu-ray player, heated leather seats and a full-size bed that ap­pears at the touch of a but­ton.

“It’s very lux­u­ri­ous,” a sales­man who helped de­liver the ve­hi­cle told The Weekly Stan­dard. “I’d rank it up there with the best.” And no worry that it gets only 16 miles per gal­lon: Fuel econ­omy is some­thing a Demo­crat never has to worry about with the main­stream me­dia.

So Hil­lary and co­horts set off on the nearly 1,000-mile jour­ney. Of course, like any other cross-coun­try trav­el­ers, they’ve got to stop for food. With top aide Huma Abe­din and a cou­ple of oth­ers, they did, at a Chipo­tle. But un­like most other peo­ple, this group went in wear­ing sun­glasses, try­ing to be incog­nito. The closed-cir­cuit cam­eras caught them not in­ter­act­ing with a sin­gle per­son in the restau­rant.

And more, the manager of the fast­food Mex­i­can eatery says Hil­lary didn’t drop a penny into the tip jar — nor did any­one else in the en­tourage. They got their food and va­moosed — so much for a “lis­ten­ing” tour to catch up with “ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans.” And she wasn’t heard from again on the road un­til she ar­rived in Iowa, no doubt far more rested than your av­er­age Joe on a three-day road trip in a “van.”

Once in Iowa, though, cer­tainly she met up with those “ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans,” right? Wrong. She did have “cof­fee” in an “in­ti­mate round­table,” but the at­ten­dees were far from or­di­nary. Again, they were Demo­cratic sup­port­ers, even gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, and some had been driven in to Coun­cil Bluffs, Iowa. More, in what is a nor­mal oc­cur­rence when deal­ing with Hil­lary (who banned pho­tos of her dur­ing her book-sign­ing tours), Se­cret Ser­vice agents con­fis­cated the at­ten­dees’ phones.

The plans for the “im­promptu” cof­fee were so se­cret that one “ev­ery­day Amer­i­can” was warned: “If the me­dia finds out, it’s over.” The peo­ple were “vet­ted” by Team Clin­ton at one lo­ca­tion, then driven to the cof­fee­house to await the Queen. And, of course, like any nor­mal “cof­fee break,” the at­ten­dees were forced to sign re­lease forms or face be­ing un­in­vited.

What’s hi­lar­i­ous about the Astroturf cam­paign is that the main­stream me­dia just spooned it up. Bloomberg News iden­ti­fied one cof­feeklatcher as a “stu­dent” at nearby St. Am­brose Uni­ver­sity. Just that — “stu­dent.” He is, part time, but here’s some more in­ter­est­ing info: The “stu­dent” is a “fre­quent par­tic­i­pant in Iowa Demo­cratic Party events. He in­terned with Pres­i­dent Obama’s 2012 pres­i­den­tial re-elec­tion cam­paign, and was tapped to chauf­feur Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den in Oc­to­ber 2014 when he vis­ited Daven­port,” the Daily Mail re­ported.

But de­spite the love­fest from the MSM, Team Clin­ton once again censored the press. While the cam­paign in­vited a hand­ful of Iowa and na­tional re­porters to the cafe, they were kicked out within min­utes. In­stead, a cam­paign video crew, led by a Clin­ton me­dia ad­viser, stayed on to film the meet­ing — and then de­cided what tidbits to re­lease.

It all just gets worse: When Hil­lary “drove” over in her “van” to meet with Demo­cratic Party lead­ers in Iowa, she parked in a hand­i­capped spot. But, with her hus­band es­cap­ing pun­ish­ment for ly­ing un­der oath and with no con­se­quences for her shred­ding 33,000 emails from her sec­re­tary of state days, per­haps she is right to think the Clin­tons are just above the law.

Af­ter all the bad press, at the end of the trip, Hil­lary de­cided to ditch the “Scooby” van and fly home — com­mer­cial. She even schlepped her own bag. But her plan to sell her­self as an “ev­ery­day Amer­i­can” fell short again. She was met — on the tar­mac — by a Lin­coln Town Car sedan and had a po­lice es­cort back to her mil­lion-dollar man­sion in Chap­paqua. And she hasn’t been seen since.

Joseph Curl cov­ered the White House and pol­i­tics for a decade for The Wash­ing­ton Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twit­ter @josephcurl.

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