Hillary Clinton’s campaign wizards, having seen what happened to Jeb Bush, are said to be worried about her “lack of energy.” But there’s nothing wrong with her imagination, her vision, her talent for building castles in the cosmos. She has come up with the season’s most imaginative campaign promise.
If she becomes president, she says she’ll open the government’s secret files and give the world the complete skinny on what happened at Roswell, New Mexico, in the heat of a summer’s night in 1947. Were we visited by aliens, or not?
She has taken questions from several television interviewers about flying saucers, and when late-night TV comic Jimmy Kimmel asked her about “UFOs,” she quickly corrected him. “You know,” she said, “there’s a new name now. It’s ‘unexplained aerial phenomenon.’ UAP. That’s the latest nomenclature.”
Revising nomenclature is big among Democrats this season. A new directive from the Obama administration says it’s incorrect to call murderers, rapists, bank robbers and such ‘criminals.’ That could make them feel bad about themselves and their career choices. The correct term, according to a directive from the U.S. Department of Education, is ‘justice-involved individuals.’
The discussion of aliens, UFOs, UAPs and flying saucers is no longer the work only of supermarket tabloids and late-night television comics. The New York Times weighed in the other day with an account of Hillary’s other-worldly fascinations. “Known for her grasp of policy,” the newspaper reported, “Mrs. Clinton has spoken at length in her presidential campaign on topics ranging from Alzheimer’s disease research to military tensions in the South China Sea. But it is her unusual knowledge about extraterrestrials that has struck a small but committed cohort of voters.”
Indeed, one tabloid popular in supermarket checkout lines once reported that Hillary had even adopted an alien baby. (She’s still looking for a village to raise it.) The story was taken as gospel by thousands of Americans, who rebutted skepticism of the source by recalling that it was a supermarket tabloid that first reported Bubba’s liaison with Monica Lewinsky, a story scoffed at by “the legacy media” and which Hillary promptly denounced as a fiction of “the vast right-wing media conspiracy.” For the record, Hillary has yet to say very much about her alien baby, which should be old enough soon to worry about which restroom to use.
Hillary promises that, barring national-security considerations, she will open official files on what the government knows about the Roswell incident and other things that go bump in the night at Area 51, a mysterious top-secret expanse of Nevada desert adjacent to Edwards Air Force Base, where the CIA and other government agencies carry on experiments in the weird, the spectral and the spooky.
Flying saucers were big in that long-ago summer of ‘47. Hundreds of people, ranging from preachers to poets to airline pilots, from scientists to judges to sorcerers (and their apprentices), said they saw a saucer shimmering and darting through the sky at the speed of warp. People camped out on lawns, back porches and even roofs to watch the night sky, and mostly in vain. Many looked but few saw. Then something crashed to earth on a ranch in New Mexico.
First accounts by the Air Force, dispatched by the Associated Press and published in hundreds of newspapers — usually on Page One — identified it as a flying saucer. The story ebbed after the Air Force revised its story, to say that it was only a weather balloon made of wire, paper and tinfoil. But the story would not die, and details continued to dribble out of the imaginations of the gifted at that sort of thing. The bodies, perhaps of siblings of Hillary’s alien babies, were said to have been autopsied at an Air Force base in Ohio, where they are held to this day.
The account in The New York Times has given the story fresh legs. The government is said to be working at Area 51, often in conjunction with aliens, on “reverse engineering” of alien spacecraft, weather control, time travel and teleportation technology, exotic propulsion systems and “advanced” political systems.
President Obama has treated Area 51 questions as a joke (he says he is often questioned about it), and Bubba says he checked it out and didn’t find anything to validate the conspiracy theories. “I want to look again,” Hillary, bestowing an impish smile, told an interviewer not long ago.
Donald Trump, busy with unorthodox solutions to the down-to-earth problems of the nation, has not said anything about aliens and otherworldly concerns. He may be working on a campaign coup of his own, a vow to find Elvis by the conclusion of his second term.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.