As far as establishment Democrats go — as far as anybody goes — Lanny Davis is a fine and decent person. Usually, the old Clinton hand makes even-keeled arguments. He obviously makes good decisions or he would never have lasted so long in Washington or accumulated such an amazing roster of clients stretching across party lines.
Specifically, the former special adviser to President Bill Clinton (and a Yale Law School grad, and a Fox News contributor) proclaimed that America’s political reporters have rudely treated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton just like — just like — the press treated Alan Shepard’s beloved wife Louise when Shepard became America’s first astronaut back in 1961.
Davis cites Tom Wolfe’s dazzling work of New Journalism, The Right Stuff, to make his comically weak case.
“Mobs of reporters and cameramen and other Big Timers were out there wearing bush jackets with leather straps running this way and that and knocking back their Pepsi-Colas and Nehis and yelling to each other and mainly just milling about, crazy with the excitement of being on the scene, bawling for news of the anguished soul of Louise Shepard. They wanted a moan, a tear, some twisted features, a few inside words from friends, any goddamned thing. They were getting desperate. Give us a sign! Give us anything! Give us the diaper-service man! The diaper-service man comes down the street with his big plastic bags, smoking a cigar to provide an aromatic screen for his daily task — and they’re all over him and his steamy bag. Maybe he knows the Shepards! Maybe he knows Louise! Maybe he’s been in there! Maybe he knows the layout of chez Shepard! He locks himself in the front seat, choking on cigar smoke, and they’re banging on his panel truck. ‘Let us in! We want to see!’ They’re on their knees. They’re slithering in the ooze. They’re interviewing the dog, the cat, the rhododendrons. …These incredible maniacs were all out there tearing up the lawn and yearning for their pieces of Louise’s emotional wreckage.”
This scene from 1961 corresponds to the media storm Hillary Clinton faces today, Davis declares.
Clinton, who has chosen to run for the U.S. presidency and perhaps to bear considerable responsibility for our national future, is just like Louise Shepard, who as it happened was the wife of a flesh-and-blood American hero.
Clinton, a declared presidential candidate who has thus far energetically avoided every opportunity to present herself and her policy ideas — if she actually has any, nobody really knows — is just like the wife of an astronaut who once sat in her house hoping her beloved husband would make it back from the frontier of space.
Davis goes on for some 829 words (including 61 about himself) to describe Hillary Clinton’s May 22 visit to Hampton, N.H., where she met with “60 local townspeople,” “including Lenore and Gary Patton, ages 78 and 79.” Davis allows BuzzFeed (that exemplar of political neutrality) to describe reporters futilely asking Clinton questions and to bathe the Pattons and Clinton in a thick Rockwellian sentiment — which is weird, by the way, since Lenore Patton appears to be a leftist hack.
“‘She has ideas for the direction of the country she wants to go in,'” Lenore gushed to reporters about Clinton, providing exactly zero detail. “She cares about the middle class.”
Davis then asks: “Is there a disconnect between Clinton and real voters like Lenore and Gary Patton? Or is the disconnect between the frenzied media scrum and partisan Republican presidential candidates and real, everyday Americans?”
Yes, there is definitely a disconnect. There is a disconnect in the mind of Lanny Davis because he believes that Clinton, a presidential candidate, should be immune from answering questions from America’s robust free press about herself, about the myriad scandals which perpetually engulf her and about any undisclosed plans she may have up her sleeve about governing should she realize her presidential ambitions.
Hillary Clinton’s circumstances are not remotely like those in which Louise Shepard found herself over 50 years ago.
Shepard was a private citizen — the worried wife of a brave and heroic man.
Clinton has very much chosen to make herself a public person. She has voluntarily put herself in the spotlight because she wants votes. Traditionally, Americans have asked their presidential candidates to field questions from the press in an open and notorious fashion precisely because the candidates want such votes.
Also, if Clinton wants the privacy for which Shepard longed, she can easily have it by abandoning her presidential quest.
Hillary Clinton is similar to Louise Shepard in just one respect. It’s an important one. Like Louise Shepard, who wouldn’t have been forced to deal with a media frenzy had her husband not been the first American to travel into space, Clinton wouldn’t have a prayer of being a leading presidential candidate or suffering the indignity of fielding reporters’ questions had her husband not served as the 42nd president of the United States.
You know it’s true. How much more, then, must Davis — the consummate Washington insider — recognize this simple, glaringly obvious fact?