Thursday, November 08, 2007

The tipping point

National Public Radio focuses on a character moment in a Presidential campaign. The issue is whether Hillary Clinton did or did not leave a tip for the waitress after eating a meal at a restaurant. The NPR account goes:

I followed Clinton during a recent bus tour across Iowa, when she and her entourage pulled into a Maid-Rite, a greasy spoon famous for its loose-meat sandwich. Clinton settled into a red stool at the counter, ate a sandwich, chatted with her waitress and then was on her way.

The scene gave Clinton perfect fodder for her next few stump speeches. It turns out her waitress was a single, working mom — just the kind of voter Democrats are courting aggressively this year....

If she's elected president, Clinton promised, people like her waitress will have it better. The way Clinton eased the waitress into her rhetoric is something repeated day after day, by all the campaigns. But in the process, people like the waitress don't always have their stories told. ...

"I wished I would have been asked first," the waitress, Anita Esterday, said of Clinton's decision to insert her in a speech. "I wish she would have asked if she could talk about me later. I didn't like it when someone called me up and said Hillary Clinton is talking about you. It's like, what'd I do now? What's she saying?"

When I returned to the Maid-Rite a few weeks later, Esterday said the senator had caught her off guard. But once they got talking, she was honest with Clinton about her need to work two to three jobs.

"I've been doing it all my life. Why should it change now that I'm old," Esterday said.

Esterday does not think Clinton got it. "I don't think she understood at all what I was saying," Esterday said. "I mean, nobody got left a tip that day."

Clinton may have decided not to tip. She was also never given a bill — her meal was on the house. Still, Esterday said Clinton might have left her something: "Maybe they don't carry money. I don't know."

After the "no tip" story hit the news the Clinton campaign issued a clarification, which the NPR carries.

Since this story aired, Hillary Clinton's campaign contacted NPR to say that the campaign paid Maid-Rite a bill for $157 the day of Clinton's visit and left $100 in tip money. NPR contacted Maid-Rite manager Brad Crawford, who confirmed that a bill was paid and tip money was left. Crawford, who was not in the restaurant at the time, said that he believes a campaign staffer left the money with one of his employees, but "where Hillary was sitting, there was no tip left." Neither Anita Esterday nor the manager on duty that day were available for comment as of noon Thursday.

It's my impression that Presidential candidates normally have a staff person who pays bills in the wake of the principal. The candidates themselves probably "don't carry money". The exact facts of this incident will probably be spun according to political preference. Maybe the tip was paid and someone decided to chisel Anita Esterday out of it. Or maybe the tip was left some hours after the meal. The facts are still somewhat vague. ABC blogs notes:

The NPR report claimed the meal was on the house. ... The Clinton campaign contacted ABC News to assert that they did, contrary to Esterday's claim to NPR, pay $157 for food at Maid-Rite and left a $100 tip to be split among the staff. ...

But an allegedly tip-less visit wasn't Esterday's only complaint. "As for all of this attention on me, it hasn't helped my life, its made my life worse," added the Maid-Rite waitress.

Esterday's picture with the Senator also landed in a local newspaper. Her employer at the nursing home is not a Clinton fan and, since the photo appeared, the waitress claims her shifts have been reduced; she suspects the picture in the paper was the reason.

I guess the score's paid now. But what was the fascination with the tip? It was probably because voters value information gathered about a candidate during an unguarded or candid moment more highly than at prepared appearances. Packaged information about a candidate is heavily discounted. Maybe voters scan candidates the way radar operators look at targets heavily obscured by electronic countermeasures. They look for changes in the signal when the aspect varies. And at moments when the shields are down they look the hardest.

But the shields are up now. And we are back to wondering whether they were ever down.


Blogger Doug said...

The record stands on her treatment of the Secret Service, the Military, Travel Office, and etc during Clinton I.
...not that anyone watching the MSM will notice.
I seem to remember a story about Chelsey being raised to call the Secret Service "Pigs."

11/08/2007 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

To China with Love

Clinton's Chinese Re-Connection

11/08/2007 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

It's part and parcel of elitism. People like Hillary have despised and looked down on working people all their lives. So what's changed.

"White trash" = "I'm better than you." Heck "My Name is Earl" is predicated on rich yuppies laughing at stupid white working people (the same plotlines with Blacks or Latinos would be denounced as "racist.")

The only people who seem comfortable in their own skin and not looking down on others in the campaigns are Rudy and Fred, who have met all sorts of people and generally liked most of them.

11/08/2007 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Valentine Smith said...

"I don't think she understood at all what I was saying"

I love it! How could Hillary ever get the point? It's all about her and what she could get from the other person. She's been whoring for money so long and for such huge amounts that there is no way she could ever actually recognize another person as a separate being. Now she prostitutes someone else's life in service of her overweening ambition. I despise her for her total lack of authenticity. There is no there there.

11/08/2007 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

I'm no Hillary fan, but picking on her for this doesn't mean much to me without some context, e.g.:

Do candidates typically carry cash and leave tips on the campaign trail?

How have other candidates/ campaigns handled tipping this year?

Is Hillary any better or worse than the others?

11/09/2007 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

How someone treats the hired help is telling:

Hillary is famous for abusing her Secret Service agents.

"WASHINGTON – In a fit of rage, former first lady Hillary Clinton threw a book at a Secret Service agent, hitting him in the back as he was driving her here in a limousine during the 1996 campaign, former Secret Service officers and agents tell WorldNetDaily.

She accused the plainclothes agent of "eavesdropping" on her conversation with another passenger in the back seat of the limo, the agents say. The missile she hurled was a painful message for him to mind his own business.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

"The book hit him in the back, and it wasn't lobbed – she was angry," said a retired uniformed Secret Service officer familiar with the incident.

"She was under the impression that he was eavesdropping on her conversation," he added. "Here he's the driver, but he was eavesdropping? I don't know how you get around that."

And best of all:
Hillary Clinton was arrogant and orally abusive to

her security detail. She forbade her daughter, Chelsea,
from exchanging pleasantries with them.

Sometimes Chelsea, miffed at her mothers obvious

conceit and mean spiritedness ignored her demands and
exchanged pleasantries regardless, but

never in her mother presence.
Chelsea really was a nice, kind hearted, and

lovely young lady. The consensus opinion was that

Chelsea loved her mom but did not like her.

Hillary Clinton was constituently rude and abrasive

to those who were charged to protect her life.
Her security detail dutifully did their job, as professionals
should, but they all "loathed " her and wanted to be on a

different detail. She was hard work because she was

so nasty and mean toward her detail. Hillary Clinton was
uniformly despised by the secret service as a whole.

11/09/2007 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I read an account of Michael Moore spending $248.73 in a restaurant and leaving a tip of $1.27.

"This fat bastard first bitched about not being able to get a table by the window then ordered enough food for himself to feed me for a week. After busting my ass trying to bring him the next plate before he finished the first he only leaves a dollar and some change for a tip... Dude wheres my tip?"

11/09/2007 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Stan Smith said...

A family acquaintance was on the Secret Service detail for both Presidents Bush 1 and the Clintons. He essentially corroborates the "Hillary is a b*tch" stories and remarks that "none of us were willing to categorically say we'd take a bullet for her."

OTOH, they were uniformly ebullient in their praise of the Bushes, especially Barbara, who went out of her way to get to know all members of the detail, to the extent of being able to ask about kids and relatives, etc., and giving gifts at holidays.

11/09/2007 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I have no love for Hillary, would never, ever vote for her, and think she's more than a little nuts, but this tipping pseudo-story strikes me as making up something out of nothing.

The waitress in question says that her hours have been cut back at her second job because of this interview, and that also strikes me as being highly unlikely.

Frankly, the woman sounds like a struggling loser and the most likely scenario is that Hillary's staff did give someone a tip and that person chose to pocket the whole thing, knowing that there was nothing the waitress could do about it.

I can't imagine that Hillary would be in charge of leaving her own tips while she's travelling. Queen Elizabeth doesn't, for god's sake, and can you imagine Angela Merkel, Margaret Thatcher or Madeline Albright leaving tips for their own meals when they're on the road?

11/09/2007 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger karrde said...

What if the Senator had told her staff to bring the campaign treasurer around, and whispered in the treasurer's ear something about the waitress's tip?

11/09/2007 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger rich said...

I think if Joe Lieberman keeps on saying things like this he could win the Presidency running as an independent:

The Politics of National Security Joe Lieberman 11/8/2007

(about ten typewritten pages)

Audio (24 MB)

Some nuggets:

“Since retaking Congress in November 2006, the top foreign policy priority of the Democratic Party has not been to expand the size of our military for the war on terror or to strengthen our democracy promotion efforts in the Middle East or to prevail in Afghanistan. It has been to pull our troops out of Iraq, to abandon the democratically-elected government there, and to hand a defeat to President Bush. . . .

Iraq has become the singular litmus test for Democratic candidates. No Democratic presidential primary candidate today speaks of America’s moral or strategic responsibility to stand with the Iraqi people against the totalitarian forces of radical Islam, or of the consequences of handing a victory in Iraq to al Qaeda and Iran. And if they did, their campaign would be as unsuccessful as mine was in 2006. Even as evidence has mounted that General Petraeus’ new counterinsurgency strategy is succeeding, Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, reluctant to acknowledge the progress we are now achieving, or even that that progress has enabled us to begin drawing down our troops there. . . .

there is something profoundly wrong—something that should trouble all of us—when we have elected Democratic officials who seem more worried about how the Bush administration might respond to Iran’s murder of our troops, than about the fact that Iran is murdering our troops.

There is likewise something profoundly wrong when we see candidates who are willing to pander to this politically paranoid, hyper-partisan sentiment in the Democratic base—even if it sends a message of weakness and division to the Iranian regime.”

11/09/2007 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

I'll agree with Nahncee. If Hil didn't pay for the meal then she wouldn't think about paying anything including the tip. On the other hand I can understand how the waitress viewed the situation, especially since she had to pay taxes on the receipt for the meal regardless of whether she got a tip or not. I think that for that one I blame Bush's predecessor.

11/09/2007 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Lieberman for President!
Pick a conservative republican for VP and you have an unbeatable ticket...

As for unguarded Clinton moments, look what happened to Buddy the dog and Socks the cat after the Clinton's left the White House. Buddy got run over by a car while being walked by a Clinton flunky, and Socks was given to a linton staffer.

11/09/2007 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I keep waiting for a new alternate personality to pop out for Chelsea, too, but so far she seems normal to the point of being boring. How is that possible?

11/09/2007 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Liberals like Hillary are always deeply committed to "the People" as long as those people are only imagined in the most abstract of terms. Everything Lenin did was supposedly for "the People" too.

To liberals, REAL people are at best distateful and at worst are a troublesome obstacle. Billy Dale and the White House travel office staff found out the hard way about how much someone like Hillary deals with real, concrete people when they stand between her and something she wants. They're roadkill.

That waitress who got stiffed can consider herself lucky if the IRS doesn't show up at her door once the story has died away and she has reverted to anonymity.

11/09/2007 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Clioman said...

Seems to me that this isn't the first occurrence of a news piece about a server getting stiffed for the tip by the Clintons and their entourage. Perhaps in the '96 campaign? It's late and I'm too sick of the horn dog and his grasping wife to go google it....

11/09/2007 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger amr said...

More on tips

On 11/9/07

A Clinton campaign staffer called on Esterday at the restaurant Thursday after the story aired. The staff member apologized to her and gave her a $20 bill, according to Esterday. The Clinton campaign confirmed that visit. The campaign also produced photocopies of receipts showing $157.46 was paid to Maid-Rite on a VISA card on Oct. 8 for meals consumed by the candidate's entourage. The tip was supposed to have been paid in cash, and the campaign insisted such a payment was made but has declined to make available a staff member who was present at Maid-Rite and left tip money.
Maid-Rite's manager, Brad Crawford, said Thursday that while he was not present at the restaurant on Oct. 8, he knew that a bill was paid by the campaign that day. He also said that he believed three of six servers working that day received tips from people he thought were working for or affiliated with the Clinton campaign.
Crawford said he didn't know if campaign staffers meant "for their tips to be distributed to everybody" or whether they were meant only for individual servers.
The manager said he can't say for sure if Esterday was tipped for serving Clinton and her guests, Christie Vilsack and Ruth Harkin. (Vilsack is the wife of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and Harkin is the wife of Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin). But Crawford said he believes Esterday's account that she received no tip.
"Where Hillary was sitting, there was no tip left," Crawford said.
The restaurant has a lunch counter, where Clinton and her guests were seated. Esterday and several other servers were working behind that counter. There are a dozen or so other booths and tables around the restaurant, and other servers were helping diners seated there.
Esterday, speaking to NPR from home later Thursday, said the Clinton campaign staffer who visited the diner apologized to her and said a $100 tip was left on a credit card the day of Clinton's visit. Esterday said the staff member said the money was meant to be shared.
"I explained to her that our credit card machine, you know, doesn't add on the tip," Esterday said. "And she said, 'Well, then, they left a $100 bill there.' And I said, 'Well, it didn't get divided up amongst us, because I had gotten nothing.'
"She just said, 'Well, there was one left,'" Esterday said. "She just kept repeating, 'There was one left.'
[b]After the campaign staffer stopped at the diner Thursday, Esterday said, the $100 tip was a hot topic.
"Two others that had worked with me that day turned around and said, 'We didn't know about any $100 tip,' because they both turned around and said 'We didn't get a part of it.' And they didn't. So, it's like 'OK, where did it go?' That's the mystery question: Where did it go?"
Esterday said it would surprise her if money that was intended to be split among the staff was never shared.
"The ladies that were working that day have been working there for years — some of them for 30 years, some of them for 25 years," Esterday said. "And I've known a lot of these ladies most of my life living here, too. And I can't imagine them pocketing it."[/

11/10/2007 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

The manager said he can't say for sure if Esterday was tipped for serving Clinton and her guests ...

Gee, the one person who might know something substantive about whether or not a $100 tip disappeared evidently can't say anything for sure about anything ... My my my, imagine that.

11/10/2007 01:29:00 PM  

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