Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A New Respect For Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson

I have a newfound respect for Hillary Clinton's Communications Director Howard Wolfson tonight. Over the past few months, I have come to loathe Wolfson in a very respectful way. For the kind of campaign Hillary Clinton is running, Wolfson is an incredible Communications Director, public advocate, and strategist. He has played a large role in helping Clinton overcome her defeat in Iowa, and he can get anyone off message and get anyone to believe practically anything he says (a trait all of the Clinton folks seem to be gifted with). He's exactaly the staunch advocate a candidate running a campaign like Senator Clinton is needs, and he deserves a lot of credit for what he's done for her and the campaign. Hence why he hasn't become one of my favorite political figures.

But, today, Reading Ben Smith's blog I came across this fact and story about Wolfson: The man doesn't fly. Well, that's not entirely true, he will fly on Air Force One, but that's about it, so as the Clinton campaign goes from Nevada to South Carolina to Iowa to New Hampshire (pretty much traveling the entire length of the continental United States) Mr. Wolfson has been following along by car.

“It’s all mishegoss—fear is not rational,” said Mr. Wolfson when asked to explain the root of his now decade-long aversion to air travel. “I could point to a couple of things but at the end of the day it just ascribes a level of rationality to it that doesn’t exist.”

He said the last time he was airborne was around the time of Mrs. Clinton’s 1999 Senate race, when he traveled on Air Force 1 and other military transports. When asked if he did so because those government planes seemed safer than commercial aviation, he said “That’s what makes sense to me,” but immediately added, “I want to make it very clear that I am not arguing for the rationality of any of this.”

Perhaps the gravest consequence of Mr. Wolfson’s fear of flying is that he has to spend hours and hours, and hours and hours, driving by himself.

“It’s usually alone,” he said. “There are not many other people willing to drive 17 hours.”

Wolfson echoes my sentiments exactaly. As I've written about before I have the same irrational fear, and like Howard, I try to skip planes when possible (although, unlike him, I would fly from Nevada to South Carolina, or, as I have in the past few years, from Detroit to Las Vegas and back) and I defend my avoidance of the air in a very similar way. I completely understand it's irrational and that I'm much safer in a plane than driving or taking Amtrack, but still, that doesn't make me feel any more secure once turbulence starts at 30,000 feet. I also think I too would fly on Air Force One because it would be presumably much much safer with much better pilots and failsafes than a normal plane.

Anyways, good for you Howard Wolfson, keep up the ground game.

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