Hillary! and Humanity
February 15, 2000
Hillary! campaign for the U.S. Senate is off and running in New York.
Hillary! has become the First Ladys logo,
substituting an exclamation point for her last name, thus avoiding the
Rodham-Clinton problem and playing down her long association with that
cad in the White House.
The exclamation point also imports
excitement. But the prospect of her campaign was more exciting than the
campaign itself has turned out to be. Unlike Bill Clinton, but very much
like Al Gore, Hillary! is a leaden speaker, sticking to a predictable script
and never taking the risk of improvising. The only excitement she arouses
is inadvertent, as when she commits a gaffe.
Her stiff style is a political handicap,
not only because its charmless but because it shows her inability
to interact spontaneously with real people. Despite her professed
compassion for ordinary folk, Hillary! doesnt really like them, and
it shows. Her ill-tempered rudeness to underlings has been legendary
since her Arkansas days.
after Bills 1993 inauguration, low-level White House employees,
many of whom had voted for him, were shocked at her abrasiveness,
especially after the unfailingly gracious treatment they had become
accustomed to from the patrician Republican, Barbara Bush. Rumors abound
of her nastiness to Arkansas state troopers and Secret Service agents
assigned to escort her. She gave no credit to the ghostwriter of her
compassionate manifesto, It Takes a Village. She once
stiffed a hairdresser, who finally had to dun the White House for
The most notorious incident of this
tender-hearted First Ladys tenure was the firing of the White
House Travel Office staff, in order to replace them with her Arkansas
cronies. Not content with firing them, she arranged their prosecution on
trumped-up charges; a jury quickly acquitted them. Such is the tender
concern of Hillary! for the little people.
A few days ago Hillary! again showed
her true colors. After enjoying a free breakfast at an upstate New York
restaurant, she left without tipping the waitress, who, like many
waitresses, was a single mother.
New Yorks mayor, Rudy
Giuliani, her likely Republican opponent for the Senate seat, quickly
pounced on the incident, pointedly leaving a $25 tip for a waitress at a Big
Apple restaurant and urging out-of-towners to remember to
tip New Yorks waitresses. It was funny, but it was an obvious
publicity stunt. Surely Mr. Giuliani doesnt always leave $25
To me the story was more painful
than amusing. When I was in college I was a busboy, and I depended on tips.
I didnt have a family to support, but most of the waitresses I
worked with did. They became upset with customers who were too cheap
to leave a tip of at least 10 per cent of the check. (The etiquette books
prescribe 15 per cent.)
To this day, I pay close attention to
waitresses. When I see a middle-aged waitress without a wedding band, I
sense a sad story. She isnt doing the job for the fun of it or for
personal fulfillment. Nobody chooses waiting on tables as a
career. She needs every dollar, and I tip at least 25 or 30 per cent. I also
make a point of being pleasant and cheerful. Little things, but shes
a human being and any small gesture may relieve the drudgery of her life. I
could easily have wound up in her shoes.
In defense of Hillary! it may be said
that her staff should have taken care of the tip. And I have no doubt that
she roasted some poor staffer when the incident resulted in bad publicity
for her. But she should have clearly instructed her staff to show every
courtesy to people she encountered. And she obviously didnt look at
the waitress as a real person while she was being served.
Hillary! can give a set speech on the
problems of women in China, enumerating all the standard feminist
complaints. But a lone waitress in real life is a different matter.
That waitress wasnt a
celebrity, or a union leader, or a spokesperson for an ethnic bloc, or a big
Democratic donor; she was a nobody, outside the network of people who
count. And she was treated accordingly.
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