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 the 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.”