Recapping: In case you missed it this week, Hillary Clinton has embarked upon a "spontaneous" road trip to Iowa -- much like the "spontaneous" journey she took as a Senate candidate in 2000. After reaching the Hawkeye State, the presumptive Democratic nominee has attacked CEO pay (ahem), posed for photo ops, spouted bland nothings about the future, and avoided questions from the press. On her way across the fruited plain, Mrs. Clinton stopped in at an Ohio Chipotle, where she apparently went unrecognized, spoke to nobody, and left. Mary Katharine Ham tried to make sense of the episode, which had the chattering class buzzing for the better part of a full news cycle. One of MKH's observations:
Hillary Clinton is such an unnatural and disingenuous campaigner that it did not occur to her to rub elbows with the staff and clientele of Chipotle without a scrum of reporters and cameras reminding her that’s her job. She's no Bill, that's for sure.
It's odd that a candidate for president would swing by an eatery in a major swing state...and say nothing to anybody, aside from "I'll have a chicken burrito bowl with black beans." What was odder to me was how this became a news story at all. If nobody knew who she was, and if nothing happened at the restaurant except the ordering of lunch, how did national reporters end up sifting through security footage to find this earth-shattering image? The New York Times reported on Monday that they'd been tipped off to the red hot scoop:
But nobody took notice of the celebrity in front of the counter. Fellow patrons paid her no more attention than a driver would get from a toll taker. Nor did the restaurant’s staff notice Mrs. Clinton, until this reporter, tipped off that she had dined there, telephoned. The Chipotle manager, Charles Wright, insisted at first that the tip must have been false. But he offered to review his security-camera recordings, and quickly reversed himself. There was Mrs. Clinton, in a bright pink shirt, ordering a chicken burrito bowl — and carrying her own tray.
Carrying her own tray?! Why, she's just like us! A relatable "champion of everyday Americans," even. Out of curiosity, where'd that tip come from?
Campaign operatives later phoned the New York Times, according to a journalist familiar with the chain of events, so reporters would know she had been there.
But of course. This demonstration of anonymous authenticity went unnoticed, so it therefore had to be noticed. And the campaign made sure that it was. Peggy Noonan has already seen enough of this stilted pageant, and offers some choice words about the media for good measure:
Hillary Clinton’s announcement followed by her dark-windowed SUV journey into deepest darkest America was the most inept, phony, shallow, slickily-slick and meaningless launch of a presidential candidacy I have ever seen. We have come to quite a pass when the Clintons can’t even do the show business of politics well. The whole extravaganza has the look of profound incompetence and disorganization—no one could have been thinking this through—or profound cynicism, or both. It has yielded only one good thing, and that is a memorable line, as Mrs. Clinton glided by reporters: “We do have a plan. We have a plan for my plan.” That is how the Washington Post quoted her, on ideas on campaign finance reform...One is that in the case of Mrs. Clinton we are going to see the press act either like the press of a great nation—hungry, raucous, alive, demanding—or like a hopelessly sickened organism, a big flailing octopus with no strength in its arms, lying like a greasy blob at the bottom of the sea, dying of ideology poisoning...Mrs. Clinton isn’t grilled, is never forced to submit to anyone’s morning-show impertinence, is never the object of the snotty question or the sharp demand for information. She gets the glide. She waves at the crowds and the press and glides by. No one pushes. No one shouts the rude question or rolls out the carefully scripted set of studio inquiries meant to make the candidate squirm. She is treated like the queen of England, who also isn’t subjected to impertinent questions as she glides into and out of venues. But she is the queen. We are not supposed to have queens.
In fairness, some in the media have been digging into important stories about Hillary Clinton, including yesterday's Times report that the outgoing Secretary of State ignored questions from Congress about her then-unconfirmed use of a private email server to conduct all personal and official business. This scheme violated "clear cut" rules, likely broke the law, and almost certainly compromised national security. Her initial excuse for her actions has fallen apart; the obvious truth is that she wanted to exert total political control over communications, perhaps to prevent investigators from getting their hands on documents pertaining to, say, foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation and unseemly quid pro quo alleged arrangements. After the secret server was revealed, Hillary's lawyers reviewed tens of thousands of emails (without any oversight, and offering conflicting accounts regarding methodology), and deleted more than 30,000 of them. Team Clinton then reportedly saw fit to wipe the server clean. On the other hand, burrito bowl. Oh, and in case you missed it last night, enjoy this additional morsel of organic Hillary goodness.