Hillary Clinton came to Kansas City today for a fundraiser and to meet with faith leaders from the community.  After the fundraiser, she held a press conference in the Iowa Room of the President Hotel to discuss her meeting with the local faith leaders.

She entered a few minutes late, accompanied by Missouri Congressman and AME minister Emanuel Cleaver, Jackson County Executive and state campaign co-chair Mike Sanders, and about a dozen local clergy, who stood behind her as she took questions.

Dave Helling went first and asked about her philosophical differences with the ministers…issues such as reproductive freedom and gay marriage.

The Senator handled the question ably.

She pointed out that there was a whole lot more that they can find common ground on, and we need to listen to one another and treat one another with respect.

She mentioned specific points of agreement they share, on issues such as housing, and education, and healthcare, and stopping the revolving door between the prison and the street.

The next question was asked by Mike Mahoney. He asked her about something former President Clinton  said the day before – that he [Bill Clinton] would not be surprised to see former presidents asked to serve in various capacities in a Hillary Clinton administration. 

And she laughed (we’ll get to that in a minute) before saying “I wouldn’t be surprised to see that either!”

She gave the current occupant credit for, in the wake of the Indonesian tsunami, asking former presidents Bush and  Clinton to lead American efforts there, and it improved the image of America  in the eyes of Indonesians and of people throughout the region.

Dave Helling then asked if she was planning on campaigning in Missouri,  and brought up the Kerry campaign (Helling mistakenly stated that Kerry did not campaign here, but he did – he pulled out of the state three weeks before the election, but he most certainly did campaign here).

“I intend to campaign vigorously in every state.I want to represent the entire country.” She responded.  This is her second trip to  Kansas City in recent months and her third or fourth to the state.

The next question was about the torture revelations of the last couple of days, and the incumbent saying today “We do not torture.”

On this she grew quite serious.  We are only finding out now how far the administration has gone, and she reminded all that there was no information forthcoming until the Democrats took over in January. She did state unequivocally that no administration, no person, no president should be above the law.

That was supposed to be the last question, but she took one more, on immigration.

She didn’t come close to touching the current third rail of politics.  She favors the standard “comprehensive immigration reform™” that every politician and their aunts, uncles, cousins and pets espouse. In her version it involves strengthening the borders and employing technology. She did give more than perfunctory acknowledgment to the idea that helping Mexico  develop their economy so people won’t feel like they have no choice but to leave their homes and families and enter the U.S. illegally to better their lives.

She didn’t say anything new or controversial, but she did stress that business owners employing undocumented workers are a huge part of the problem and until they are held accountable, no other efforts will be truly effective. 

Overall, I had a pretty positive impression of her. She was relaxed and composed and confident. She seemed to exude competence and ability.  She was charming and well spoken and didn’t butcher a single sentence.  Overall, she seemed downright presidential.  We could certainly do worse, as the last seven years have shown us. 

Now – about the laugh.

Get over it.

The laugh is real.  I was just a few feet away from it a few hours ago.  It is genuine and there is a twinkle in her eyes when she laughs that ya just can’t fake.  That laugh endears her to me on a certain level.  It is the same laugh that I stopped trying to stifle the first time I heard “Freedom Fries.”  It is the laugh that should assault Chris Wallace’s ears every time he spouts a wingnut talking point.  It is the laugh that should have issued forth thirty years ago when the foam flecked loonies and assorted hypocrites started emerging from the lunatic fringe.

People stopped laughing at the assorted array of idiots, and look where it got us!  For the love of all that is holy, stop acting like the wingnuts have any credibility, stop taking them seriously, and start guffawing at these idiots every time they say something stupid. 

And when the Maureen Dowds and Frank Richs and various M$M chuckleheads start obsessing about the authenticity of a presidential candidates laugh instead of the substance of their message…mocking, derisive laughter directed back at them is the only appropriate response.