SHIELDING HILLARY CLINTON from reporters’ questions has become something of a specialty for the former secretary of state’s political operation. Her announcement in April that she was running for the Democratic presidential nomination was followed by weeks in which she refused to answer substantive inquiries from the press. Journalists protested — at one point, The New York Times pointedly published “questions we would have asked Mrs. Clinton had we had the opportunity” — but to little avail. Perhaps Clinton and her handlers figured that politicians don’t get in trouble for answers they don’t give. Or maybe they reasoned that news coverage these days is largely visual, and a candidate’s reticence doesn’t make much of a photo-op.
If so, they reasoned wrong.
During an Independence Day parade in Gorham, N.H., over the weekend, Clinton decided that it wasn’t enough to just ignore the media. Her campaign staff actually corralled reporters, roping them off like farm animals to keep them far from the former first lady. This had to be a first in the “Live Free or Die” state, which is renowned for its ultra-retail presidential politics and where most candidates relish the chance to mingle with reporters and voters. The Internet flared with images of reporters being dragged behind a moving rope line, and it wasn’t only Republicans who wondered whether Clinton thought that the point of July Fourth was independence from answering questions.
A candidate’s aloofness, it turns out, can be captured visually. It makes a most unflattering picture.