If I were to approach a person on the street and list off traits like “doesn’t drive,” “needs food prepared,” “needs help with the remote control,” “needs people to bring her beverages,” “has trouble remembering things,” and “doesn’t pay her own bills” about someone anonymously, he wouldn’t think I was referring to a current presidential front-runner in the year 2015. He would think I was referring to his poor nana, whom he had to place in a home because she wouldn’t stop yelling at the lamp and was at risk of accidentally microwaving her dentures.
But, as we now know courtesy of the ongoing FOIA e-mail dump, all of these traits accurately describe the current Democratic front-runner and (as she is always eager to remind us) doting grandmother, Hillary Clinton. Amidst the e-mail revelations, an alarming pattern is developing about Clinton’s personal dependency on those inside her inner bubble. She isn’t just delegating important tasks to underlings, as any executive might; these aren’t urgent matters of national security, such as aides’ fetching satellite intelligence or the latest reports relevant to a managing executive. Rather, it appears that Hillary is either helpless or unwilling to perform even the most menial and trivial of daily tasks. In a recently released e-mail from January 3, 2010, she personally messaged an assistant, wishing her a Happy New Year, and then offered a demand list to start the year off:
I’d like to work w you to prepare a menu for Jason. Also does he give me a monthly bill for the food he buys and prepares for me? Could you or he buy skim milk for me to have for my tea? Also, pls remind me to bring more tea cups from home . . . Can you give me times for two TV shows: Parks and Recreation and The Good Wife?
Yes, this is the delightful paradox that is Hillary: a woman who claims she will fight for the shrinking middle class but who also happens to employ a personal chef (or Visiting Angel) that she’s not even sure she pays. A candidate who Understands People Like You but apparently isn’t familiar enough with the strange Google machine to look up television listings (I found it in one click after searching “The Good Wife times” and going to the official CBS homepage). A person who was actually in the habit of e-mailing her drink orders to aides at the State Department: “Pls call Sarah and ask her if she can get me some iced tea.”
The e-mails show that Hillary is either helpless or unwilling to perform even the most menial and trivial of daily tasks.
Ponder that one again for a moment: She e-mailed one person to call yet another person with an order to bring her a beverage. A normal person, incapacitated and laid out in a hospital bed, can usually get beverage service in fewer steps than what Hillary was requesting.
The Washington Free Beacon has repeatedly raised concerns about Hillary’s inability to remember basic details such as names, dates, and meetings. Now these are normal occurrences for senior citizens and nothing to be ashamed of, but combined with Hillary’s medical history of strokes and concussions (one of which, according to her husband, took almost six months to recover from and was serious enough to prevent her from testifying in front of a House committee), we have reason to be uneasy. Questions must be answered before we entrust the most stressful job on the planet to someone who, by all appearances, can barely walk from one side of a room to the other without outside assistance. If I’m negotiating debate terms with a nominee Hillary Clinton, I don’t agree to anything less than three standing debates, each 90 minutes long, with no stools, chairs, or podiums, town-hall style.
If she falls, she falls.
#share#On a more serious note: This goes beyond ageism, e-mail jokes, and japes about basic mobility and dependency. Democrats under Barack Obama have moved further and further left, to the point where they are seriously considering, as an alternative to Mrs. Clinton, a ranting socialist who thinks women have rape fantasies and that more than one choice of deodorant on the market is a bit too extreme. Key to this is their class-warfare rhetoric, in which they pose as Tribunes of the People, guarding against the depredations of evil plutocrats like Mitt Romney who sprinkle Bain cancer upon the wives of helpless, destitute workers. And now crashing through this carefully constructed story comes Hillary — who trudged joylessly through the Iowa State Fair earlier this month, dressed like a Romulan visitor from just outside the Neutral Zone and accompanied by an entourage preventing the filthy voters from getting too close. After a few grudging handshakes, she departed, refusing to take the traditional soapbox and answer questions or even give a simple stump speech. (Donald Trump, who remarkably comes off as far more down-to-earth in comparison with Hillary, was the only other candidate to refuse.)
No, the choice of Hillary’s wardrobe ultimately doesn’t matter (even if to media it suddenly does when the subject is the price-tag on a Sarah Palin or Ann Romney outfit). But optics to middle-class voters do. If Hillary Clinton wants to run a class-warfare election and pretend she’s a champion of the little people who buy their own milk for their tea, then middle-class voters have a right to know when the last time was that she prepared her own meals. When was the last time Hillary Clinton drove her own car? (Spoiler Alert: 1996.) When was the last time Hillary Clinton operated a television remote control?
When was the last time Hillary Clinton paid her own bills?
This is the dilemma the Democratic party faces as they are forced to rebrand themselves in a Buzzed-out, youth-obsessed viral-media age (an age encouraged in part by the cunning pop-culture sensibilities of Barack Obama). Now they are forced to be the party of crotchety elders telling young whippersnappers that they know what’s best for them because they walked uphill both ways in the snow (or in Hillary’s case, were driven up the hill by a chauffeur).
When Republicans of years past were the target, Hollywood and the mainstream media could barely contain their glee at jokes about out-of-touch elder statesmen. During the 2008 election, in a sit-down interview to promote a new film, famous Team America puppet Matt Damon lamented the age and health of then–Republican presidential nominee John McCain (72 at the time) as it related to his paralyzing fear of a President Sarah Palin: “Do the actuary tables and there’s a one out of three chance, if not more, that McCain doesn’t survive his first term and it’ll be President Palin.”
#related#The Associated Press asked and answered their own question in July of 2008: “So how old is John McCain? Six-packs, automatic transmissions, and the American Express card were all introduced after he was born — not to mention computers, which McCain admits he doesn’t use.”
David Letterman joked during the 1996 cycle, “Bob Dole is calling himself an optimist. I understand this because a lot of people would look at a glass as half-empty. Bob Dole looks at the glass and says, ‘What a great place to put my teeth.’” Keith Olbermann (still at MSNBC in 2008) quipped, “McCain could easily transition from talking about the economy or foreign affairs to talking about ‘buying more Depends’ or something like that.”
Do the same rules not apply to the Democrats’ aged and anointed oligarch, who comes across more like the last of the three knights left guarding the Holy Grail than the sharp yoga-routine addict she claimed to be in e-mails (e-mails that just happened to be deleted)? Apparently not. Now, as the country and culture heads into a new election season — longer, more rigorous, and faster-paced than any that have preceded it — we’re once again faced with questions of the competence and health of an old white candidate. Except this time — despite the questions raised in Hillary Clinton’s own e-mails — actors, comedians, and media commentators are strangely silent.
— Stephen L. Miller is a writer living in Brooklyn, N.Y. He publishes The Wilderness, which focuses on viral politics and social media.