Hillary’s listening tour: Authenticity? Not!

In the alternative world of politics, nothing is real. Nowhere is that more the case than in presidential campaigns. As the saying goes, “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

Hillary’s supposed low-key listening tour with the Scooby van this week was pitched as a spontaneous, truth-telling, interactive, unscripted escapade with everyday folks, a chance to reveal her authenticity. “It isn’t about her, it isn’t about us. It’s about Iowans, everyday Iowans, their hopes, their dreams,” Clinton’s campaign said. “That’s what you can expect for the next few weeks…real conversations about what matters for the country,” said Katie Dowd, digital director of Hillary’s campaign.

But Hillary’s in a league of her own in terms of trying to manipulate reality, apparently believing that you can fool all the people all the time.

It started when her armored Express Explorer Limited SE van stopped (in a handicapped parking spot, no less) at the Jones Street Java House in Le Claire, Iowa for a roundtable with “ordinary Americans.”

Hillary Clinton has a "spontaneous" conversation with patrons at a coffee shop in Le Claire, Iowa.

Hillary Clinton has a “spontaneous” conversation with patrons at a coffee shop in Le Claire, Iowa.

“Clinton surprises customers at LeClaire coffee shop,” read the headline in a regional paper the next day.

I don’t think so.

The initial reporting said Clinton spent an hour at the coffee shop talking with ordinary Americans Austin Bird, Sara Sedlacek and Carter Bell. Clinton ordered drinks, inquired about the menu and talked casually with the three. Sedlacek said they talked about education, health care and child care. It all looked so genuine, so unrehearsed.

Aggressive media follow-up revealed, however, that the whole thing was carefully choreographed, a faux event, so to speak.

Far from being regular folks who happened to be chatting over coffee when Hillary strolled in, all have Democratic party ties. Bird is a government and community relations coordinator at Genesis Health System in Davenport, Iowa, according to his LinkedIn profile. He interned with President Obama’s 2012 presidential re-election campaign and chauffeured Vice President Joe Biden when he visited Davenport in Oct. 2014.

Bell is president of the University of Iowa College Democrats. Sedlacek is an employee at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. Planned Parenthood’s PAC contributed $588,918 to federal candidates in 2014, every single penny to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Bird admitted that Troy Price, political director of Clinton’s Iowa campaign, called and asked him, Bell and Sedlacek to meet him Tuesday morning at a the Village Inn restaurant in nearby Davenport, Iowa. Price vetted them for about half an hour and then drove them to the coffee house to meet Clinton.

Authenticity. Spontaneity. Openness. Not exactly. Expect more of the same over the next 18 months or so.

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