Dear Hillary, About Bernie

Dear Hillary,

Something came out in CNN I think we should talk about. (CNN)Clinton says ‘nobody likes’ Sanders and won’t commit to backing him if he’s the Democratic nominee. Quoting you,

“Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done.”

This brings me to our fateless encounter on a New Jersey Transit train. I think it was about 10 days before you announced. You were returning from a visit to the Woodrow Wilson School of  Public Affairs and International Affairs at Princeton University. Since Amtrak does not stop at Princeton Junction, NJT ran the only trains that would get you there.

I had boarded the 2:57 super-express at Trenton, bound for NY Penn Station. The mid-afternoon “super express” was new on the timetable, so not a lot of people had adjusted their schedules, and ridership was low. The first car was empty, so I spread myself across two opposing benches. Each Arrow car had two sets of these super-sized seats, one on each side the aisle.

Thirteen minutes later, when the train stopped at Princeton Junction, the car was still empty, except for me. You got on, and immediately spread your things out on the other double opposing benches, immediately across the narrow aisle. The doors closed, and we were juxtaposed, alone if not together, for the next 21 minutes, until the next stop, New Brunswick.

Some people may marvel at the enormous miscellany of information in this blog. There are no research assistants. It all comes out of my mental attic, as messy and compendious as my house. It is not photographic, except for the cerebral section titled Menagerie of Curiosities. Referring to the Menagerie, I identified you by your handbag. I had a flashback; I was holding an old printed issue of Time or Newsweek, with a picture of you on a tarmac holding the “Silver Blimp.”

The Silver Blimp is a capacious elongate ellipsoid about two feet on the major axis, made of lightweight material, covered in reflective silver mylar. It resembles a uranium nucleus that has just absorbed a neutron, and is about to fission. Your theory is that people would be so attracted to the handbag, they would ignore the owner.  You were wrong.  I sent this question to my memory banks:

Probability( This person =

Hilliary Clinton _given_ CARRIES: SILVER_BLIMP).

I added a few more clauses:

          • Wears( Denim Skirt).
          • Shoes(sneakers)
          • Intellect = Alpha.
          • Physical resemblance=high.
          • Demeanor=chilly.
          • Handbag( lipstick & Kleenex = NO).

We continued our fateless encounter with sidelong glances. In this activity, you are clearly superior to me.  While I had to turn my head a full 15 degrees, your glance required only half the angle. Meanwhile, the answer came back:

Is_Hillary_Clinton(CONFIRMED, P=99%)

You were not at ease. While I could have checked my email on my phone, I opened up my laptop. This seemed to take the edge off. You took an appropriately pink iPhone out of the Blimp . You seemed engrossed in a pdf of earth shaking importance, the fate of the Western World, at a distance of 2 feet. To read a phone at 2 feet, one has to be very farsighted in ways that go beyond foreign policy. My astigmatism gets lost over 6 inches. I guess I would be a very short-sighted politician.

This was my big chance! Concealed within my pocket, I had magic cards advertising Intel9.us.  I printed them at Walmart. If somehow, I could get you to accept a card…? We continued to exchange sidelong glances.

I could slide it onto your seat. I could proffer one held in the classic cigarette grasp. Everybody who has heard this story asks if you had a magic button that would have resulted in my being taken away in chains. Temptation and fear, in balance. I could try an ice-breaker. Yes, let’s do! I summoned all the resonance I had accumulated in years of arguing about overcharges, and squeaked out, as my voice rose about 2 octaves,

“Excuse me. Do you have an interest in international relations?”

For the first and only time, you made eye contact. You replied, in a tone so close to Absolute Zero  that it would liquefy helium,

“NO…O…Oo…o.”

A Jainist gives a bug more love. I skittered back into my hole. The train stopped at New Brunswick. The car began to fill. The conductor looked at your items, and said, “Excuse me ma’am, you’re going to have to move your things. The car is filling.”

It wasn’t, really. But as you compacted, methinks you doth protested too loudly, talking to yourself, but widely audible. Now we had both been squashed, me by reality, and you by ignorance. He didn’t know who you were.

I’ve heard good things about you, and things that require rebuttal. You took care of your mother in her last years. I did too, so I know what it means. We both miss our mothers, and are unafraid to say so. But  our mutual fateless encounter was a demonstration of elitism, both to the stranger and the factotum. Perhaps, when we shared an empty car, there was the possibility of danger. But when the car filled, no attempt was made to engage. This echoes the observations of some, not all, of those who have worked with you. Perhaps I saw only one side of the coin, but must there always be two?

It bears hypothetical comparison. Would:

  • Bernie talk my ear off?
  • Elizabeth treat me to a cogent, if boring, monologue?
  • Joe affably misquote himself?
  • Donald give me a hug?
  • Vladimir Putin invite me to Russia and award me a medal?
  • Barack discuss his reading list, perhaps the only two-way exchange for my  empty train car?

Can the modern political world dispense with kissing babies and pressing the flesh? Is it necessary only for particular constituencies, or is it an acid test for any aspirational pol, proof of the basic human connection?

Hillary, don’t be mad. You know where to find me. I emailed you the next morning.

Bob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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