- - Sunday, April 19, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

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 fast-food 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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