Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s presidential campaign seems doomed to failure. She is not even registering in polls of the Democratic race.
Gillibrand has made a strong run in the phoniness sweepstakes, though. Indeed, she looks to be running away with that prize. This is no mean feat considering that Sens. Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren are in the race.
Perhaps the starkest example of Gillibrand’s lack of authenticity is her flip on gun control. As a congresswoman from upstate New York, she was pro-gun and a favorite of the NRA. As soon as she become a Senator with a much different constituency, she changed her position.
How does Gillibrand explain her flip? She says it happened at Nazareth Regional High School in Brooklyn where she went to console Jennifer Pryear, a mother whose deceased daughter was a victim of gun violence.
On the campaign trail, Gillibrand pitches this as the moment that changed everything. But it happened less than two months after Gillibrand was appointed U.S. Senator and, as the Washington Post notes, at a time when she was being strongly criticized by New York City Democrats for being pro-gun.
To believe that Gillibrand’s conversion was due to meeting Pryear, rather than to political exigency, requires us to imagine that Gillibrand, who lived for years in New York City, was unaware until she met Pryear that innocent teenagers are sometimes gunned down. I can’t imagine this.
There’s more to the story. Gillibrand pledged to start an internship program in her office in honor of Pryear’s daughter. But according to the Washington Post, Gillibrand’s office can account for only one Nazareth student ever interning there in the ten years since the Senator promised to establish the program.
Moreover, after standing behind Gillibrand at a news conference about gun control a few months later, Pryear never heard from Gillibrand again, even though she has lived at the same address with the same phone number during the entire period.
Pryear says she had no clue that Gillibrand still spoke about her daughter until a Washington Post reporter told her. According to the Post, she worries that her tragedy has been simplified into a story in a stump speech.
The worry is justified. For Gillibrand, it seems, Pryear is a “plot device,” not a flesh and blood mother still grieving the loss of her daughter.