According to a humanizing anecdote she told the National Automobile Dealers Association Meeting on Monday, Hillary Clinton has not driven since 1996!
This means that if she runs in 2016, we can refer to it either as 2016 or “The 20-Year Anniversary of the Last Time Hillary Clinton Was Behind The Wheel.” I’m sure someone’s already made a disparaging bumper sticker about this.
That’s the trouble with humanizing anecdotes. They tend to backfire. Mitt Romney insists that he is a normal person, just like you, who goes on vacation with his dog riding on a part of the car, and suddenly he’s the Michael Vick of presidential candidates.
The downside to long, distinguished careers of public service is that you gradually get isolated farther and farther from the people you are supposed to resemble and serve. You become Eloi and they become Morlocks and if you aren’t careful you can wind up like John Kerry, sneaking kale in a van outside a Wendy’s, because your stomach no longer accepts prole food. It’s a serious problem. Sometimes you have what you think is a cute anecdote that makes you sound like a normal person, and it turns out that the time you choked on all the silver-encrusted popcorn that Henry Kissinger was playfully flinging at you and you were just MORTIFIED actually has the opposite impact.
“Who are you?” your audience asks.
“I’m just suffering typical day-to-day embarrassments, like every human nowadays does! Like don’t you hate it when you nearly spill Grey Poupon all over the Chinese Premier?” you say, slapping your knee, as the people at the Iowa diner you are trying to impress shrink away nervously.
Never mind that you can explain the situation overseas in detail and have spoken to the people involved. Do you know how to signal at a three-way intersection? What about merging? Have you ever been yelled at and shamed by your GPS? Have you ever texted at a traffic light? Then what can we possibly have in common?
The longer the career, the more of a problem this becomes, and you are forced to go farther and farther back in time to find a story that an actual voter can relate to. “I know what it’s like to struggle,” you say. “I ran a small business with help from my mom and dad, and it was a lot of real back-breaking work out in the hot sun.” “This wasn’t a lemonade stand, was it?” “That’s not important. The point is: I’m just like you!”
Apparently, this is an occupational hazard when your job comes with Secret Service protection. I didn’t know that one of the benefits of being president or first lady, even once, was that you never had to drive again, but it turns out that this is the case. I clearly need to start a long and distinguished career of high-level public service. I don’t know that it will do America much good, but if it will get me out from behind the wheel, that is a sacrifice we should all be willing to make. To Iowa, everyone!
I guess we could also spin this into the fact that Hillary Clinton and I finally have something in common (other than the fact that we’re both female, which the Hillary 2016 people have clearly been banking heavily on for some time). The last time we got behind the wheel, it terrified people! That’s something, I guess.