Magazine | August 11, 2014, Issue

Prepare Ye the Way of the Candidate

‘Ready for Hillary,” the signs say, as if the last 20 years had been a matter of girding your loins and settling your affairs. It suggests we were not ready before, but existed in an unformed state of anticipatory unease, unsure whether we were properly prepared for all that she truly is. But it’s come together nicely, hasn’t it? She’s ready for the job, and by some delightful coincidence we’re ready to sweep her into office, the capstone of a life of extraordinary accomplishment. (List of actual accomplishments to follow at some unspecified date.)

It costs money to be ready, though. She gets over a quarter-million dollars to speak. But this doesn’t make her rich, and she knows it. “Rich” is when you can pay someone a quarter-million to shut up and you take it out of petty cash.

Can’t knock her for charging a lot; it’s for the Clinton Foundation, after all, and even if it weren’t, if someone offers that much, and he’s not the Bashar Assad Appreciation Society looking for some credibility, heck, you take it. What’s amusing is the list of demands in her speaker’s contract, which the Washington Post recently revealed. It doesn’t have the niggling specificity of rock-star riders, which require bottled water made from lark’s tears and periwinkle M&Ms with the “M” sanded halfway off. Rather, it lays out what the event planners can expect and what they must not do.

If we may paraphrase, here are some requirements you might not be surprised to find.

The Speaker’s waiting room shall be stocked with bottled water, cheeses and meats, bakery items, salted butter, the raw guts of a lamb, a pint of blood from a ram sacrificed at dawn after being stunned by a silver hammer, a copy of ancient Roman curses, a tablet and stylus on which names can be written, candles, a doll of Elizabeth Warren.

The photoline, wherein the Speaker agrees to stand next to people of little importance, shall be limited to 50 photos with 100 people. The people shall agree not to shake hands with the Speaker, move within six inches of the Speaker, or touch the hem of the Speaker’s garment to seek relief from a medical condition. The Speaker agrees to maintain an unvarying smile of surprise and delight. The Speaker requires a facial massage every ten people to prevent her face from cramping.

The Speaker shall be the only person onstage during the event. If any backstage personnel are glimpsed by the Speaker, and they are not paying attention, the Speaker shall be permitted to unleash the Stare of the Gorgon, turning them to stone for the duration of the event. The Speaker shall assume no liability if personnel do not convert back to human form, and shall not be required to pay damages to family members, and shall take possession of the statues for installation in her private Grotto of Disrespect.

All questions must be approved by the moderator, who will read them to the Speaker. The moderator shall be responsible for assuring no one passes himself off as “Benjamin Ghazee,” or “Lou Inksy.” Failure to rephrase the questions in a form that flatters the Speaker shall be reason for immediate termination of the Q&A period. Example: If the question is “How do you sleep at night, knowing that the administration’s failed policy of appeasement has led to a destabilized world in which rogue states act with disregard for American reprisal?” the moderator shall ask about the Speaker’s preferred thread count in her bed sheets and the firmness of her pillow.

The moderator must be approved in advance and shall be drawn from a pool of people who are still irked with Terry Gross for that Fresh Air interview. The moderator shall maintain a frozen expression of admiration.

No question shall contain the phrase “What difference does it make?”

Recording of the Speech shall be prohibited. No audience member may transcribe the Speech. The Speech shall not exist after it is given. The teleprompter memory will be wiped clean, and the teleprompter itself painted over with black semi-glass latex paint. Audience members shall surrender any recording devices such as smartphones, cameras, Google Glass, and Etch-A-Sketches. The doors to the auditorium shall be sealed with duct tape to prevent leakage of the Speech into the lobby. Any guest who appears to have remembered any portion of the Speech and is quoting lines from it in the reception afterwards shall have the relevant area of his brain destroyed with a thin, sharp piece of metal inserted in the ear canal.

Any leaking of controversial remarks shall be considered unethical, and shall not be compared to leaking Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” speech, because that’s different. It shall be considered “different” because it is. Any attempt to ask why it is “different” shall be met with exasperated expressions.

The Speech will be no less than 15 minutes and no longer than 23 minutes. Outbursts of prolonged, joyous applause will be included in the running time, and the Speaker reserves the right to charge overtime fees beyond 23 minutes, at a rate of $1,000 per minute, with the proceeds going to the Clinton Foundation’s Foundation for Clintons. The venue shall provide someone who stands in the wings with a stopwatch, a satchel of money, and an empty briefcase, and who shall transfer the overtime fees as they accrue. If the venue cannot provide the cash and the event goes overtime, the Speaker reserves the right to vanish in a choking fog of green smoke that rises dramatically from the stage, leaving only mocking laughter that echoes through the hall.

Acceptance of these terms shall mean you are Ready for Hillary. And Hillary is ready for you.

– Mr. Lileks blogs at

James Lileks — James Lileks writes the Athwart column for National Review magazine and is a frequent contributor to the National Review website. He is a prominent voice on Ricochet podcasts.

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