The New York Post expects this story to fill its readers with glee:
Hillary Clinton’s security detail laughed when she broke her elbow
Hillary Clinton’s security detail hated her so much that they privately snickered after she accidentally fell and broke her arm when she was secretary of state in 2009, one of her former guards told the Post.
Clinton, then 61, was in the State Department basement on her way to meet President Obama when she took a spill -- and ended up in the hospital for an operation to repair her shattered right elbow.
“We sort of got the last laugh. It was kind of like payback: You’re treating us like s--t. Hey karma is a bitch! We were smiling to ourselves,” the agent told The Post on Wednesday.
The Post assumes that you're happy to relive her injury and that you share the security detail's contempt, because you've read the many previous stories peddled in conservative media about Hillary's unpleasantness to those who protect her. Are these stories true? Do the tale-tellers have an ax to grind? We don't know. Do we want people protecting our top government officials who are going to laugh when something bad happens to protectees they don't like, and then tattle to the press? I don't think so, but maybe that's just me.
Clinton's reputation for this sort of thing is based in part on anecdotes, many of them hard to believe, collected in First Family Detail, a book by Ronald Kessler, a reporter who's maintained a respectable reputation despite his many years working for the less-than-reputable Newsmax. A 2015 story in (again) the New York Post gives us a taste of Kessler's work on Clinton in that book:
“Good morning, ma’am,” a member of the uniformed Secret Service once greeted Hillary Clinton.
“F-- off,” she replied.
Sorry -- right there you've lost me, Ron. I don't believe that.
“Hillary didn’t like the military aides wearing their uniforms around the White House,” one former agent remembers. “She asked if they would wear business suits instead. The uniform’s a sign of pride, and they’re proud to wear their uniform. I know that the military was actually really offended by it.”
In a Washington Post review of an earlier Kessler book about the Secret Service, James Banford wrote:
Trashing their motto, these agents seem to relish throwing dirt on their former protectees, especially Democrats....
The busy, self-important agents also disliked tardiness, which is one reason they couldn't stand Bill Clinton or Al Gore. Former agent Dave Saleeba waited impatiently for Vice President Gore one day, only to discover him "eating a muffin at the pool." The book's inane and endless anecdotes never rise much higher.
A conservative lot, the agents found President Ronald Reagan "a down-to-earth individual;" his successor, George H.W. Bush, "a great man, just an all around nice person"; and George W. Bush "down to earth, caring." Agents, Kessler says, loved to "chop wood" with the younger Bush and appreciated "the fact that Bush is punctual." Otherwise, apparently, they might have been forced to fire him.
Maybe I shouldn't blame Kessler or the New York Post -- maybe these protectors really are "a conservative lot" and will just say anything to trash a Clinton, especially one running for president. We did get this story at the beginning of the week:
State Department security personnel so disliked Hillary Clinton that many left the agency or asked to be reassigned, according to FBI documents released Monday.
So the FBI confirms this? Well, no, not exactly: One disgruntled agentsays it's true.
“[Redacted] explained that CLINTON’s treatment of DS agents on her protective detail was so contemptuous that many of them sought reassignment or employment elsewhere,” the FBI documents state.
“Prior to CLINTON’s tenure, being an agent on the Secretary of State’s protective detail was seen as an honor and privilege reserved for senior agents. However, by the end of CLINTON’s tenure, it was staffed largely with new agents because it was difficult to find senior agents willing to work for her,” the interview summary states.
So based on all this backstairs whispering, the idea of Hillary Clinton breaking her elbow is supposed to bring a smile to our faces.
And that's the mindset that led to Donald Trump's caustic performance last night at the Al Smith dinner. Presidential candidates, even those who've expressed contempt for each other, are supposed to show up at the dinner and engage in good-natured ribbing, mixed with a bit of self-deprecation. Trump refused to do that and paid a price:
Donald Trump was booed Thursday night at the annual Alfred E. Smith Dinner after delivering a series of jabs at his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, including trying to riff on a controversial remark he made at the latest presidential debate about her being a "nasty woman." ...
Trump, who spoke first, tried at first to keep things light-hearted, but quickly turned to harsh criticism about Clinton, who he described as “corrupt.” His remarks drew boos from the crowd, unprecedented for the event in the memories of observers.
“Hillary believes it's vital to deceive the people by having one public policy. And a totally different policy in private. That's okay,” he said, to boos from the crowd. “I don't know who they're angry at, Hillary, you or I? For example, here she is tonight in public, pretending not to hate Catholics.”
Many of the jokes weren't even jokes:
He wondered aloud how someone like Mrs. Clinton ... could sell herself to the American people. “What’s her pitch?” he asked. “The economy is busted, the government’s corrupt, Washington is failing. Vote for me.”
But if, like Donald Trump, you live in the right-wing media bubble where anecdotes about Clinton's personal and professional awfulness are lovingly collected and traded like rare baseball cards, you begin to assume that everyone despises her and just wants something awful to happen to her, whether it's a barrage of insults untouched by humor or, perhaps, a physical injury.
Outside the bubble of conservative anger, that's in bad taste. Inside it, there'd be cheers if she suffered more.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog