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Looking Past Hillary Clinton

Our esteemed colleague Rob Edelstein watched Sen. Hillary Clinton’s appearance on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart the other night…and couldn’t keep his eyes off of the Stepfordian audience behind her:

That audience of alien-world robots, sitting with tiny other-worldly smiles behind Hillary Clinton on the March 3 Daily Show interview, is one of the more frightening things I’ve seen on television in awhile. To me, it’s up there with Joe Theismann’s broken leg on Monday Night Football and any appearance of Celine Dion.

And yet, while I sat waiting for everyone to suddenly shout “We will not harm your planet!” I was cheered by the one clear human of the bunch, a little redheaded Mason Reese-like impish kid whose mom sat, for viewing purposes, just to the left of Senator Clinton’s right ear. The mom is the only audience member really moving. At times, she either stares down at the child—frozen smile intact. At other times, she appears to be tightening the shackles to keep the child from fidgeting.

Nearly four minutes into the interview, as Clinton is saying, “You’re right, it can’t just be about the speeches,” the inevitable occurs; the child scratches his or her (not sure) shoulder and tries to rest an understandably weary head on a fist, and the mom, smile intact, quickly corrects his or her posture. Some face scratching and more fidgeting occurs throughout. Crazy, isn’t it, that a child would fail to be riveted to all the talk of how change will change the way changes will occur in this great nation of ours.

But it’s at the four-minute point in part two of the interview when the child appears finally ready to implode, having spent these precious moments being forced to pretend to be in church. For the last full minute of the interview, I can pay no attention to the Senator from New York whatsoever. Instead, I’m watching the mother-child interplay, feeling the poor child’s need to break free and shout, “Nader in ’08!” I’m still having flashbacks of when little Andrew Giuliani mugged and waved during daddy Rudy’s mayoral inauguration.

Speaking of nightmarish images, Senator Clinton: When this redheaded kid has nightmares from this experience at 3 a.m., whom should we call?

By Rob Edelstein