by Olivia Nuzzi
|Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast|
For the first big speech of her 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton turned a little-known strip of New York into a serene summertime autocracy, pleasant and creepy at the same time.
It’s an odd sensation to be sitting on the back of a golf cart, holding on for dear life, as a member of Hillary Clinton’s security team—bald and meat-headed, his blazer straining to remain stitched around his bulky arms—speeds like O.J. Simpson in order to deliver you to a secure location. This can happen, I now know, if you happen to make the mistake of walking down the wrong pathway—of a public park—on your way to a Clinton speech.
“Get in!” he barked. Then, a sigh: “Not your fault.” That’s just the way things are around here.
Here would be Hillary Island—formerly Roosevelt Island—a strip of land located in the middle of the East River between Manhattan and Queens that some 10,000 New Yorkers call home. More specifically, here is Four Freedoms Park—a grassy island enclave named for the Four Freedoms FDR spelled out in his 1941 State of the Union speech: Freedom of speech, of worship, from want, and from fear—where the Clinton team has assembled a red and blue stage, in the shape of an H, for her to pace on as she delivers her first major campaign speech.
Clinton formally declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination almost exactly a month ago, in April, with a 2:15 video. “Everyday Americans need a champion,” she said then. “And I wanna be that champion.”
Since that time, Clinton has not been heard from much as she has traveled around, talking to some voters and ignoring questions from the media and trying to seem as normal as possible despite being anything but. Saturday’s event was designed to highlight her champion-ness by contrasting her with the New Deal Democrat, whose Four Freedoms she has attempted to mimic with her own “Four Fights,” the economy, families, campaign finance and national security.
Saturday’s event, according according to The New York Times, was organized by a small group of Clinton insiders including Huma Abedin, Clinton’s longtime aide and the vice chair of her campaign and Jim Margolis, who helped orchestrate both inaugurations for President Obama.
The result felt borderline dystopian.
Roosevelt Island, transformed by architects in the 1930s to serve as a “living memorial,” looks like a cross between something out of Grand Theft Auto and a ghost town. It has a fake forest, and brutalist apartment complexes. Its abandoned insane asylum was turned into a luxury highrise.
Roosevelt Island’s Amalgamated Bank, owned by unions and serving unions, now sports a sign declaring it proud to be the bank of Hillary For America.
And Four Freedoms Park, located partially beneath the 59th Street Bridge, is lush and green, and houses a decaying, vine-covered Smallpox Hospital, abandoned in the 1950s. The Hillary campaign installed a forest of port-a-potties and lined the walkways with arrow signs (Hillary’s logo) pointing in the direction of her speech, which could be accessed by ascending a glimmering white staircase. In the distance, you could see the “Pepsi-Cola” sign in Queens.
Source: Daily Beast