Hillary’s not there: The people in her video seem to be acting out scenes from the candidate’s life

Many faces, many places.
Many faces, many places.
Image: Quartz
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The announcement was much anticipated by friends and foes alike. The medium was unusual – a YouTube video profiling a panorama of Americans readying for a fresh start – expectant parents, a student searching for a job, new business owners, a gay couple readying to wed. The candidate made her appearance late into the video with a few simple words, “I’m getting ready to do something too. I’m running for president.”

As a former first lady, former US senator and former secretary of state, Clinton is no stranger to fresh starts. By staying silent about her past roles, the campaign announcement is clearly designed to be a reset.

But there’s an odd note or two that has crept into the campaign announcement. Halfway into the two minute video, there is a vignette of an older white woman, wearing a blue jacket, reminiscent of those worn by Clinton in many public appearances. “I am getting ready to retire soon,” announces the woman with a big grin. “Retiring means reinventing yourself in many ways.”

The words and the jacket remind me jarringly of Clinton’s age. The woman on the camera could be her. The words about reinventing yourself in your fifties, sixties or seventies hold as true for retirees as they do for Clinton. This is an odd note in a video that is clearly designed to present Clinton in her best light as an energetic fighter who can get things done.

Odder still is the next cameo. It features a couple talking about home renovations before going on to say, “But most importantly, we just want to teach our dog to quit eating the trash. And so we have high hopes for 2015 that that’s going to happen.” Cut to a shot of their dog pulling paper out a trash can.

It’s an unfortunate reminder of missing documents, trashed emails and other assorted paper trails that have haunted the Clintons. Could a pet perhaps be the best solution to keeping private correspondence out of the public eye?

The next vignette has a man talking of starting a new career. “This is a fifth generation company,” he says apparently talking about his new employers. “That means a lot to me.”

“When families are strong, America is strong,” says Clinton, a few seconds later into the video. A family business handed down to the next in line? That begins to sounds like an awfully familiar theme in an election that could easily end up being Clinton vs. Bush.

The whole video is somehow reminiscent of the Bob Dylan movie from 2007, I’m Not There, where six different actors take turns embodying the musician and playing different aspects and periods of his life.

See what we mean about Bob?
See what we mean about Bob?
Image: The Weinstein Company

Hillary Clinton has a lot going for her. She has a phenomenal intellect, is by all accounts extremely hard working and feisty. Unfortunately, she also seems dogged by ill-timed missteps.

This video must have been critiqued extensively within the inner circle before being released. Those reminders of age, trashed papers and family businesses seem better suited to an SNL skit than a serious campaign announcement. It’s a start alright but the missteps seem more reminiscent of the past than a fresh beginning. Did anyone in the campaign notice these odd congruities to their candidate’s own life? Were they intentional, and if so, to what end? Perhaps it’s not Hillary but her campaign messaging that needs a fresh start.