MANCHESTER, N.H. — During a surrogate rally for Hillary Clinton in the waning days of the New Hampshire primary race Kerry Kennedy, seventh of Robert F. Kennedy’s eleven children and former wife of Andrew Cuomo, was telling fifteen residents of Tarrytown Road Senior Apartments the tale of Sister Dianna Ortiz’s 1989 inhuman torture in Guatemala when a sweet grandmotherly figure interrupted.
“I’m sorry, I have to leave, but I’ve already voted for Hilary Clinton and I just wanted to come by and say…the Kennedys are the best people in the world!” the woman gushed, surveying the room with a smile. “I can tell he’s Bobby’s kid” — she nodded at Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., then turned back to Kerry — “and I can tell you’re his kid.”
“That’s my sister Kathleen,” Kerry prompted absently, pointing out her sister, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, seated amongst the hoi polloi.
“How ya doing Kathy?” the woman enthused, backing out the door. “Okay, I have to go to a birthday party or I’d stay.”
“Have fun Esther,” someone called out.
“Enjoy yourself!” Kerry added warmly, framed by leftover Christmas stockings decorated with Rudolph and Santa Claus and trumpeting angels. “So, anyway, Dianna was teaching these Mayan children how to read and write when she was captured by Guatemalan security forces. And she was taken to a secret place where she was tortured for four days and she was gang raped and she was thrown in a pit full of bodies and was horribly, horribly tortured.”
DURING A HOTLY CONTESTED election in which pundits are comparing her primary opponent to Bobby Kennedy, it was politically priceless for Clinton to have the children of the legendary martyred senator on the trail endorsing her, reminding people who now occupies their father’s seat…and whose ascendance to the presidency may deliver Bobby Jr. to that same seat without forcing him to run a gauntlet of evil election-stealing Diebold voting machines.
Nevertheless, with all the talk of gang rapes and hundreds of cigarette burns, the event was clearly getting a bit heavier than these who giddily awaited the arrival of the “Bobby’s kids” — as more than one resident called them — had anticipated. Residents had been told each Kennedy would “give a little chitchat about how they feel about Hillary.” They were getting something considerably more intense.
The woman who bade Esther a good afternoon now gazed out the window as if wishing she too had a birthday party to attend. An elderly man stared longingly at boxes of Dunkin Donuts Munchkins, which shared a table a few feet away with a slew of Hillary Clinton campaign endorsed I Can Be President T-shirts for toddlers — talk about lacking experience! — as Kennedy detailed nefarious U.S. diplomats’ plots to dismiss Ortiz’s ordeal as “a lesbian love affair gone awry.”
This slur stood, Kennedy insisted, until more than a decade later when Hillary Clinton visited Ortiz’s White House vigil and subsequently “called together the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department” and forced the release of all files on torture in Guatemala.
Not bad for a First Lady, eh?! Kennedy presented this story as proof Hillary not only “deeply cares about people,” but will be able to “wrangle” bureaucracies and build a nation she could teach her daughters to be proud of — something that apparently cannot be done when the Dark Side wins an election or two.
Never mind that Ortiz’s name doesn’t appear in the index of Living History. (And as anyone who has read Hillary’s autobiography can tell you, it isn’t like the author to fail to note any of her Hero for Humanity! moments.) Set aside, also, Ortiz’s own absolutely harrowing account of her ordeal, The Blindfold’s Eyes, in which, while recognizing the welcome spotlight Hillary’s vigil visit shone on her cause, she ultimately credits Amnesty International and Congress with pressuring Bill Clinton to release the Guatemalan torture files. Ortiz never doubted Hillary’s good intentions, to be sure, but she did fear the First Lady might be impotent in a confrontation with the “old boys’ network of secrecy.”
Kerry Kennedy actually receives more outright kudos in Ortiz’s book than Hillary does.
NOT LONG INTO RFK Jr.’s pitch for Hillary, the reason why the much-heralded environmental attorney and author never wound up working in the White House Press Corps — a “karaoke group,” he sneers — suddenly, dramatically materializes.
“I want them to ask him: ‘Has there ever been a president in history worse than you, and if so, name who he is?’” he fairly shouted. “You can’t think of one!”
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