Photo: AP

Today, the New York Times reminded us that Hillary Clinton is, by several light years, the candidate closest to willing to disclose any information the United States government is withholding about contact with extraterrestrials. Great! But what about ghosts?

According to decorated Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s 1996 book The Choice: How Bill Clinton Won, the third year of Bill Clinton’s first term—marked by the Whitewater investigations and the failure of her health care reform plan—was a difficult time for Hillary Clinton. “She seemed jerked around by the muddled role of First Lady, as she swung between New Age feminist and national housewife. Her place and her role were not clear. Her high sense of purpose and doing good had been thwarted.”

On the advice of her onetime mentor, the psychologist Jean Houston, she sought guidance from her hero, Eleanor Roosevelt. (Eleanor Roosevelt was, at this time, dead.)

Jean Houston. Photo: AP

One afternoon, Woodward writes in his book, Houston, who had previously been invited to Camp David, joined Clinton in “the solarium, a sun parlor with three sides of glass windows perched atop the White House. It was afternoon and they all sat around a circular table, joined by several members of the First Lady’s staff. One was making a tape recording of the session.” (Ah, ha.) “Fresh fruit, popcorn and pretzels had been set out.”

Houston asked Clinton to imagine Eleanor Roosevelt walking down a hall, and to describe her and talk with her about “the possible future of the children.” Clinton did these things, and then Houston asked her to “open herself up to Mrs. Roosevelt as a way of looking at her own capacities and place in history.

Houston regarded it as a classic technique, practiced by Machiavelli, who used to talk to ancient men. What might Eleanor say? What is your message to her? she asked Hillary

Hillary addressed Eleanor, focusing on her predecessor’s fierceness and determination, her advocacy on behalf of people in need. Hillary continued to address Eleanor, discussing the obstacles, the criticism, the loneliness the former First Lady felt. Her identification with Mrs. Roosevelt was intense and personal. They were members of an exclusive club of women who could comprehend the complexity, the ambiguity of their position. It’s hard, Hillary said. Why was there such a need in people to put other people down?

Later, Houston suggested Clinton should talk to Mahatma Gandhi.

Hillary expressed reverence and respect for Gandhi’s life and works, almost drawing his and her own lives together with her words, opening herself up wide, acknowledging the level of his exertion, empathizing with his persecution. She said he too was profoundly misunderstood, when all he wanted to do was to help others and make peace.

Next, Houston suggested Jesus Christ.

That would be too personal, Hillary finally said, declining to address Jesus.

In his description of the day’s events, Woodward was “confusing the fringe with the frontier,” Houston later told the New York Times. “My whole life has been devoted to pushing the membrane of the possible, to push the boundaries of human capacity.”

“We were using an imaginative exercise to force her ideas, to think about how Eleanor would have responded to a particular problem,” she said. “I have never been to a seance.”

Seems questionable, but we’ll take her word for it. In any case, Clinton is surging ahead with both alien and ghost voters and is surely looking forward to consulting with Eleanor again after her inauguration.