Monday, December 03, 2007


Hillary To The Rescue

When I first saw this Day By Day cartoon, I thought it was just a joke:

Yep, that was my reaction too -- hostages? In Hillary's campaign offices?!?

But it turns out to have been real:

Aides said Clinton was home Friday afternoon, getting ready to deliver a partisan speech in Virginia to the Democratic National Committee, when she was told three workers in her Rochester, N.H., headquarters had been taken hostage by a man claiming to have a bomb.

Police later arrested 47-year-old Leeland Eisenberg of Somersworth, N.H., and charged him with kidnapping and reckless conduct. They said he walked into the office, demanding to speak to Clinton and complaining about inadequate access to mental care.

It's starting to make sense to me now. A man who takes hostages, and claims he has "inadequate access to mental care"? Yep, I can believe that.

But what interests me more is the article's context. The AP article is a pure puff piece; the paragraphs quoted above are numbers six and seven. Now that we know what actually happened, let's read paragraphs one through five to see how the AP reporters feel about it all:

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) - When the hostages had been released and their alleged captor arrested, a regal-looking Hillary Rodham Clinton strolled out of her Washington home, the picture of calm in the face of crisis.

The image, broadcast just as the network news began, conveyed the message a thousand town hall meetings and campaign commercials strive for—namely, that the Democratic presidential contender can face disorder in a most orderly manner.

"I am very grateful that this difficult day has ended so well," she declared as she stood alone at the microphone.

Little more than three hours later, just in time for the 11 p.m. local news, Clinton reaffirmed that perspective. In New Hampshire, she embraced her staffers and their families, and lauded the law enforcement officials who brought a siege at her local campaign headquarters to a peaceful conclusion.

It was a vintage example of a candidate taking a negative and turning it into a positive. And coming just six weeks before the presidential voting begins, the timing could hardly have been more beneficial to someone hoping to stave off a loss in the Iowa caucuses and secure a win in the New Hampshire primary.
(emphasis mine)

What Glen Johnson (who apparently wrote this for AP) failed to point out is that this positive "message" -- the one that "a thousand town hall meetings and campaign commercials strive for" -- could not have happened without his active and eager participation.

Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against editorials. (Arguably, this blog is nothing but editorials, expressing my opinions to both of my readers.) I do have a problem, however, with editorialism masquerading as news. I'd feel the same way if a newspaper ran a headline reading "News Flash: President Bush More Handsome Than Ever".

But there's more. The AP article goes on to describe just how Mrs. Clinton showed her calm control in the face of a crisis:
The aides said Clinton immediately canceled her trip and began working the phones. She later told reporters she had New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, a fellow Democrat, on the phone in eight minutes.

Over the ensuing five hours, as a state trooper negotiated with the suspect and hostages were released one-by-one, Clinton continued to call up and down the law enforcement food chain, from local to county to state to federal officials.

"I knew I was bugging a lot of these people, it felt like on a minute- by-minute basis, trying to make sure that I knew everything that was going on so I was in a position to tell the families, to tell my campaign and to be available to do anything that they asked of me," the New York senator said.
Translation? The New Hampshire law-enforcement community was doing its best to resolve the crisis, and she was getting in their way, in order to look like she was doing something! By her own admission, her only function in all this was "to tell the families" -- in other words, she wanted the families of the hostages to hear from her personally. (It seems clear to me that this does not benefit security in any way, nor does it benefit the families, since the police will certainly keep them informed as well. It does, however, benefit Hillary's campaign.)

I'm reminded of a seemingly small incident in John Kerry's 2004 Presidential run, when a Secret Service agent inadvertently got in his way while the Senator was snowboarding. Kerry later explained to the press: "I didn't fall down! That son of a bitch knocked me down." I, along with a great many other people, formed an opinion of Sen. Kerry's character from that incident. If Kerry would speak that way about a man whose only job was to protect Kerry's life, what does that tell us? Mostly, it tells me that Sen. Kerry has very little room in his priorities for anyone but himself.

Similarly, Sen. Clinton charged into action at a time of crisis -- by getting in the way, and by making sure that she would come out of it all looking good... to AP reporters, anyway.

No doubt she cared about the lives of the hostages as well. But if that had been more important to her than her campaign, I'd think she could have stayed out of the way, and left the police work to the policemen.


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