First impressions count. I was there to see Hillary Rodham Clinton make a lousy one during her Senate stump in Brooklyn, where word has it she may set up shop if she runs for president, to darn her image as a snooty, scandal-scarred fossil with an anorexic resume and more baggage than a pasenger jet.
Hill received a rock star’s welcome at Temple Shaare Emeth in Canarsie in the fall of 2000, as she pitched for votes in the predominantly black community at a meeting co-hosted by the Friends of United Block Association and the Fraser Civic Association. I stood at the back of a 200-strong crowd of invited guests. Ahead of me an elderly man clutched a scrap of paper scrawled with a question as if it was his last will and testament.
Hill arrived with a clump of Secret Service agents who clung to her like Saran Wrap and barked “No! Move! Stop!” to anyone who came within 10 feet of her. She strode into the crowded room wearing a smile that never reached her eyes and recited a prepared speech about connecting with ordinary folk while secreting detachment in offensive wafts, like someone wearing too much perfume. She refused questions from the press and the audience, and briefly worked a velvet rope line, reluctantly pressing paws with the fawning throngs on the other side. Undaunted, I breached the human sea until I was within earshot.
“Mrs. Clinton, can I please...?” I began before a swooping agent elbowed me in the ribs and sent me flying like a paper plane.
Outside, Hill made a beeline for her SUV, buzzing past cheering spectators, with me right behind her.
“Mrs. Clinton, why didn’t you answer any questions?” I asked as she stepped into the vehicle.
“I did!” she answered, turning around to look at me.
“You liar,” I replied.
She glared at me, fled inside, and screeched off. Back at the ranch the elderly man crumpled his scrap of paper and scratched his head.
“Whatta waste of time!” he said, echoing my exact thoughts.
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