The astonishing incompetence of Hillary's campaign rollout

If the intent of the Hillary campaign machine is to portray her as a woman of the people, a champion of the little gal, the staging of her rollout has been shockingly counterproductive.  Because she will be raising more than a billion dollars and already has at her command vast resources, we cannot attribute the ongoing fiasco to short-staffing or lack of expert advice.

No, the source of this disaster has to be at the top: Hillary herself.  She has a reputation as imperious for good reason.  The woman who once commanded that staff in the White House not to look her in the face as she walked by likes to be in charge.  And she has a taste for comfort and even luxury, which makes imbuing her with the common touch a genuine challenge for staff vying to please her more than the others and, at all costs, avoiding anything that puts her in an uncomfortable position.

The idea of driving a van from the East Coast out to Iowa sounds pretty good, just like lots of grandmas might do on the way to visiting family.  But an oversized, tall, shiny black van with darkened windows with a Secret Service convoy does not exactly bespeak ordinary folks.  It looks more like a monarch inspecting her domain.

Then there was the famous Chipotle lunch stop.  This was no “Hey-I’m-hungy-let’s-grab-a-bite” affair, pulling off at the next turnpike service plaza.  CNN Money laid out the sort of analysis that went into choosing that “fast casual” chain over, say, McDonald’s – the fast food her husband famously loved.  Chipotle is semi-hip, it’s allegedly healthy, and it appeals to people who can afford something a little better than the lowest rung of fast food.

I have driven the Ohio Turnpike many times, and I know that travelers can stop at a “service plaza” or pay an extra toll to exit and then re-enter after dining somewhere offsite.  The closest service plaza to Maumee, where Hillary exited to hit the Chipotle on US 20, is the Blue Heron plaza, featuring Hardees, Mancino’s Italian Eatery, and Red Burrito.  None of these was good enough, or else none of them offered the proper optics.  So someone deliberately chose Chipotle, which required exiting and re-entering.

There’s been quite a bit of speculation as to why Hillary was wearing sunglasses and wasn’t recognized.  Because she and close companion Huma Abedin stayed 45 minutes, it appears to me that she wanted to be recognized but not mobbed, and she left the Secret Service behind to avoid announcing herself as a regal presence.  Instead, I suspect they wanted some patron to recognize her and offer casual greetings.  Why else would they stay so long in a chain where “fast” is part of the sales strategy?  Maybe nobody recognized her, or, more likely some people suspected who she might be but were intimidated.  In any event, the campaign was reduced to sending a press release out and directing reporters to getting surveillance video from the manager.

Her arrival in Iowa for a closed-door, hand-picked media-only event at a technical college also degenerated into farce, with terrible visuals for her effort to seem just like the common people.  Watch this MSNBC reporter hold his ground as the rest of the media ran toward the van, which was pulling up to a door they hadn’t expected, where Hillary could enter the building without having to encounter any of those common folk not hand-picked for the honor of her presence among them.


The overall impression is one of a lapdog media scrambling for photo crumbs from the table of a monarch.  And that sinister shiny black van, rolling along with its convoy of armed guards, doesn’t exactly scream woman of the people.

Hillary is caught in a dilemma of her own making.  There are serious, legitimate, and embarrassing questions that she wants to avoid from the media.  Hence the stiff-arm to the poor reporters forced to cover her.  Yet she wants to look like something she is not: a friendly, accessible voice of the people.

I don’t think Hillary can get over herself.  She just is not used to and will not tolerate personal inconvenience or discomfort.  As long as there is no serious challenger visible for the nomination, she will continue to demand that her staff shelter her, and continue to generate impressions that work against her strategy.