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A.B. Stoddard: Clinton must be joking

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Those Clinton campaign strategists are so clever: trying to just lighten up this whole process, appeal to the young, show they get the joke and turn Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign into a late-night comedy punch line.

In just days, Clinton has issued dire warnings about climate change; been caught jumping on and off a private plane; pledged, because of the plane’s emissions, to the make her campaign carbon neutral (without revealing how); jetted to New York City for a $600 haircut; and refused to reveal her position on the Keystone XL pipeline, which those same voters interested in climate change are asking her about.

{mosads}Has Clinton fallen into the Republicans’ trap, trying to outdo Donald Trump in bad publicity, or does she want her candidacy to become a permanent skit on “Saturday Night Live”?

Obvious mistakes aren’t being avoided but amplified, and negative stereotypes are being embraced. 

This appears to be the plan for a candidate who is already known and cannot surprise, who is failing to excite her liberal base, who doesn’t understand the definition of “dead broke.” A majority of voters say they find her dishonest because she did her work as secretary of State, even some of it classified, through a private email server she later wiped of data. Yes, that’s quite a funny approach.

Clinton has chosen an elective presidential campaign, one in which she speaks only about what she is interested in discussing, allowing no pesky or problematic topics.

Audiences are friendly, and even supporters are counseled not to talk to the press. Much is off limits, and unlike other campaigns that are traditionally prerequisites for winning the White House, in which candidates attempt to blend in with voters and answer their questions, Clinton’s mode is sparing, inauthentic and, well, mystifying.

Asked by a voter whether she approves of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, Clinton refused to respond, equally fearful of enraging labor unions that support the jobs it would create or the environmentalists who oppose it.

Only after she attempted to own the issue by boasting of her work at State to “put together a very thorough, evidence based process” to evaluate the pipeline, Clinton said she couldn’t answer until President Obama decided. 

“If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question,” she said.

That’s a good one! Guess talking about what to do next to confront the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria must also be off limits.

Last Friday, Clinton flew to Bergdorf Goodman in New York, where the stylist at the salon gives $600 haircuts. The department store was locked down for her. Surely you’re in stitches now. 

Voters are well aware that hairstylists serve the elite in the privacy of their own campaign hotel rooms and that there is no sane reason to shut down a posh department store in Manhattan, with an entourage no doubt involving taxpayer-funded Secret Service personnel, for such an extravagance. It’s nothing short of hilarious.

So Clinton has let voters know that she pays far more for one haircut than most Americans will for 20 haircuts, that she truly prefers riding on private jets and that she gets to decide which of her work emails are government property. It all says a lot about how she would govern, so it’s good to know.

The brains at the updated and upgraded campaign who refused to repeat the mistakes of the 2008 operation should reconsider whether Hillary Clinton can actually win the White House with a campaign that’s now a joke. 

Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.

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