Last week, the Merry-Go-Round imagined what it would be like if Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump brought his campaign to Alameda. But we realized that, even if he stays in the race for the long haul, The Donald is unlikely to spend any time here. There is, however, another leading candidate from whom it is far more realistic to expect a visit . . .
A large stage has been erected in front of Alameda City Hall, and on it sits the City’s Democratic party establishment: state and county legislators; local elected and appointed officeholders; City of Alameda Democratic Club officers, and the League of Women Voters of Alameda board of directors.
Across the façade of City Hall is a banner reading, simply, “Hillary.”
As campaign workers hand out free-drink coupons to Rock Wall Winery in an effort to draw a crowd, a black SUV pulls up and out steps former Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic party presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The word “APPLAUSE” flashes on the video screen next to the stage, and, egged on by Councilman Jim Oddie, the audience begins to clap. Clinton, a broad smile fixed on her face, steps to the podium.
“You know, when I was a little girl growing up in Park Ridge, Illinois, I never imagined I could get this far,” Clinton begins. “But my mother always told me to think big. One day, she said, you might find yourself standing on a stage with a man who wants to be President of the United States. If only Mom could see me now – right up here with Rob Bonta!”
She wags a finger at the State Assemblyman. “But you’re going to have to wait a while, Rob,” she says. “These days, women rule!”
“And I’m not talking about Carly Fiorina – heaven forbid – or even about myself. You have a woman mayor right here in Alameda! Libby, come on over here next to me.” (An aide whispers in Clinton’s ear). “Oh, of course, I meant Trish. I must be having a senior moment. But who doesn’t at my age? You think Joe Biden would have remembered her name?
“And the mayor before her was a woman, too!” (Clinton consults an index card). “Marie, come stand next to Trish.”
Former Mayor Gilmore takes a step forward, but a man at her side wearing a beret and hissing “Sarah Palin!” at Spencer holds her back.
Clinton pushes on: “And the latest member of your School Board? Another woman! Gray, you and Trish are friends – right? Come on up!”
Former teachers’ union head Gray Harris takes a step forward, but a man at her side wearing a fire captain’s uniform holds her back. She elbows him in the stomach, throws off his arm, and joins Clinton and Spencer on the stage.
“Welcome!” Clinton says. “Tell me, ladies, do you have any grandchildren? No?” Clinton turns to the audience. “Would anyone like to see my granddaughter?” A picture of Charlotte Mezvinsky appears on the video screen. “Isn’t she adorable? And, imagine, she’s already executive VP of the Clinton Foundation!”
Clinton checks her notes.
“Few people know it, but I’m very familiar with the City of Alameda and the good folks who live here.
“I remember back in 1993 when Bill gave me the list of military base closures to approve, and the Alameda Naval Air Station was on it. You can’t close NAS Alameda, I told Bill. If you do, it’ll take another 20 years for those people to figure out what to do with the place.
“Well, he did it anyway, and I turned out to be right.
“But, as far as I can tell, it was worth the wait. I love the idea of ‘transit-oriented development.’ I’ve been using public transportation myself for many years. Who do you think picked up the tab for me to trot around the globe when I was Secretary of State? The public, of course!”
Clinton notices Planning Board member John Knox White nodding vigorously. She recognizes him and waves. “Johnny!” she says. “I saw you ride in on your bike. You looked just like Michael Dukakis in that helmet!”
“I can’t wait to see all those apartments, townhomes and condos go up at Alameda Point,” she continues. “I promise you this: When I’m President, I’ll raise the minimum wage not just to a measly $15 an hour but high enough so that people in this town actually can afford to live there.”
Clinton pauses. “You know, ever since I decided to run for president and saw the results from the focus group, I’ve been a big supporter not just of women’s rights, but of workers’ rights.
“Of course, my critics at Fox News argue I can’t claim to represent working families because I made $12 million in speaking fees in the 16 months after I left the State Department.
“That’s like saying the head of your firefighters’ union can’t claim to represent working families because he made $204,001.36 in salary and benefits in 2013.
“It’s ridiculous. Both of us are entitled to a living wage, aren’t we?
“I’m running for President because I want every American to do as well as a former Secretary of State, and every Alamedan to do as well as an Alameda firefighter.”
A frown creases Clinton’s face. “It isn’t going to be easy,” she says. “Every step of the way, we’ll have to battle the vast right-wing conspiracy: the Koch brothers on the national scene, ‘the Kevins’ right here in Alameda. Not to mention the big corporations like Walmart and Wind River, or the big banks like Goldman Sachs and the Bank of Marin.
“But we’ve got fighters on our side, too. Take the president of your Planning Board. He’s right, you know: No child wants to grow up to be a banker. Children want to grow up to become union leaders. What other job lets you pick a fight with a grocery store manager and then get the D.A. to drop the charges?”
Clinton takes a sip from a glass of water. “Let me talk a moment about a subject that I know is important to your mayor – privacy,” she says.
“Trish tells me she wants to be able to go into a coffee shop without worrying about her political opponents secretly recording her conversations. Well, I know the feeling. When I became Secretary of State, I wanted to be able to send an email without worrying about some so-called ‘oversight committee’ rifling through my messages.
“You all know how I solved the problem: I got my own email server. So my advice to your mayor is this: Get your own coffee maker.
“And then you should get your Council to pass the same sort of law I’m going to propose to Congress. My husband had a policy he called, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and that’s what I’ll call my new law, too. They don’t get to ask – and I don’t have to tell.”
Clinton senses an aide tugging at her sleeve. “I’m told I’ve got to go,” she says. “Today’s the day this week I agreed to talk to the press.” She holds up an index card. “They can ask me whatever they like. I’ve already got what I’m going to say written out right out here.”
Councilman Oddie rises from his seat and starts to pick up a garbage can, but an ILWU member shoves him aside and takes it out of his hands.
“Jim will now be going through the crowd collecting contributions for the campaign – er, I mean, donations to the Foundation,” Clinton tells the audience. “Remember, they’re completely tax-deductible, and, I promise you, I’ll use them for a good cause. And I don’t mean Charlotte’s college fund. Didn’t you hear: I’m going to make college free for everybody!”
Photoshop credit: Jane Sullwold