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Tilting at Windmills

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November 9, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

QUOTE OF THE DAY....From waitress Anita Esterday on press corps fascination over whether Hillary Clinton left her a tip during a campaign stop:

You people are really nuts. There's kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now — there's better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn't get a tip.

Kevin Drum 1:39 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (57)

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She obviously doesn't understand the focus of the media these days.

You don't supposed one of the reporters palmed the tip, do you?

Posted by: tomeck on November 9, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like Ms. Esterday has learned the fine art of using the media to promulgate her message (HRC stiffed me!) while simultaneously blaming the media for promulgating that message.

Posted by: Disputo on November 9, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

It's obvious she's never heard of Drudge and the traditional media's slavish devotion to him.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on November 9, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

It's the truth republican patizans must hide at any cost:
MoveOn Americans are Heartland Americans.
One and the same.
Deal with it.

Posted by: Northern Observer on November 9, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Matt Drudge rules our world!"

Hillary is a bitch -- all the matters is feeding this narrative. War? Imploding economy? Pshah!!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on November 9, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Um, isn't she the one that brought it up to begin with?

Posted by: Pennsylvanian on November 9, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

She doesn't live in the beltway bubble, so how could this waitress understand that the campaign topics are whatever the pundits say they are!

Posted by: TheOtherWA on November 9, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

"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.'"

It seems to me HRC's campaign is working hard to put this story to bed.

Posted by: Keith on November 9, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Variations of this are raised in every damned campaign. How the hell the advance team allows it is beyond me, especially knowing the sharks are circling hoping to find blood in the water. How about they do this: When you visit an eatery the first thing you do is find out who is in charge. Hand that person $100 and tell them it's the meal tip and if anything is left over you hope it assuages any inconveniences caused by the candidate's appearance. If more than $100 is needed after estimating meal costs give more. Get a receipt. Geez, this isn't rocket science, get your shit together.

Posted by: steve duncan on November 9, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

The Times calls it a "mini-scandal". That seems a little excessive. How about "micro" or, even better "nano"?

Posted by: Mike Wilson on November 9, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe this is why Bill went to McDonald's so often... no issue with tips! :-)

Posted by: RobertSeattle on November 9, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Seems like the scandal, if there is one, is the boss walked off with the fat tip, which is, like, nothing new in the restaurant biz. You on that, NPR?
Right...

Posted by: Doozer on November 9, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

The Times calls it a "mini-scandal". That seems a little excessive. How about "micro" or, even better "nano"?

I think the modifier you are looking for is "non"

Posted by: Martin on November 9, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Here we are witness to the hippocracy.

Say one of Mr. Bush's or Mr. Cheney's aides negligently forgot to leave a tip, or left a small tip. Then it would be all about how the millionaires Bush and Cheney oppress the working poor. The liberal media and hollywood celebs would be up in arms.

But when Billary does something similar, who cares about the working poor. Then your out to villainize the poor waitress.

How do you respond Kevin Drum. HOW DO YOU RESPOND!

Posted by: egbert on November 9, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

In equally important news, CNN is reporting that Barack Obama didn't put his hand on his heart during a recent performance of the Star Spangled Banner.

Stay tuned to CNN for more vitally important news, like in-depth coverage of Bill Richardson's hangnail and the inside scoop from Tom Tancredo's fourth-grade teacher.

Posted by: TR on November 9, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I actually heard this NPR report and called the Clinton camp to register my outrage ... I assumed NPR had their facts straight.

I would suggest listening to the entire piece ... just to hear the difference in tone with respect to how NRP played out the Clinton versus Obama segments.

Posted by: Mandy on November 9, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert, hippocracy is spelled hypocrisy.

Smarter trolls, please.

Posted by: Speed on November 9, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

So how much did W. tip the bartenders when he was AWOL from the Guard? How much does he remember he tipped?

Posted by: tomeck48 on November 9, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Pennsylvanian: "Um, isn't [the waitress] the one that brought it up to begin with?"

No, she isn't. This was, first and foremost, the brainchild and manufacture of malevolent media elements. We should not be so quick to blame an innocent third party.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on November 9, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Then it would be all about how the millionaires Bush and Cheney oppress the working poor. The liberal media and hollywood celebs would be up in arms.

Egbert, you always say "If Bush did this, then" with no actual proof. How about once saying "When Bush did this..." Come up with an actual fact for a change, eh?

Posted by: tomeck on November 9, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

The malevolent media element on this story was National Public Radio. Its reporter later acknowledged on the air that he went with a quote about the Clinton visit without getting a reaction from the campaign.

Sounds like an advance glitch by the Clinton campaign, and a reporting glitch by one media outlet. Personally, I'd have to think that leaving a generous tip for every waitress, busboy and bellhop who gets anywhere near the candidate is about the cheapest way to buy favorable quotes in the press. The Clinton campaign can certainly afford it.

Posted by: Zathras on November 9, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

The malevolent media element on this story was National Public Radio. Its reporter later acknowledged on the air that he went with a quote about the Clinton visit without getting a reaction from the campaign.

Not only that, but he apologized for running with the waitress's story without verifying it.

Posted by: Disputo on November 9, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Let's all get the true story staight before somebody jumps off a cliff or something.
The bill for the meal was around $156 and a tip of $100 was left. The waitress didn't receive any of it through some mistake or malfeasance on the part of the manager.
And by the way if there's a real story here it's that they left a tip of 64%.
And I don't even like Hilary.Sheesh.

Posted by: Gandalf on November 9, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

So... given all the back and forth on this issue at NPR and other media...

Did the HRC staffer actually leave a $100 tip?

There seemed to be an acknowledgment from someone within the diner that there was, but since NONE of the wait staff saw it, was it really left?? Is there any evidence that one was left since the claim was that it was left as cash? Or is this an after-the-fact "adjustment" by the campaign? I would imagine that the wait staff would have complained about no tip right after the HRC group left, so if someone pocketed the tip it should have been obvious that this would become a problem.

Can someone offer some clarification on this?

Posted by: pencarrow on November 9, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Oh by the way I thought that was a great quote.

Posted by: Gandalf on November 9, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

If I read this comment correctly, HRC's campaign can't substantiate that a tip was left.

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.'"

Posted by: kj on November 9, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

NPR's (nice polite republicans) hatred of Hillary is so palbable that I stop listening whenever they report on her. They keep trying to do Russert gotchas, but somehow always fail.
Showing how pathetic their politcal reporters have become lately.

I used to be a big supporter of NPR, but I stopped giving when my local station started broadcasting the evangellycal homophobic anit-immigrant program "Weekend America" instead of Cartalk. Talk about your dumb economic move.

Posted by: optical weenie on November 9, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK
Egbert, hippocracy is spelled hypocrisy.

Not if you are talking about a system of government in which all state power is vested in a committee of horses.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 9, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Or more precisely, a committee of hippos.

Posted by: tomeck on November 9, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

The manager confirmed that the Clinton campaign left the tip in one of the stories, but "somehow" it did not end up being divvied up. My guess is that he pocketed the $100 bucks figuring the waitresses would be so excited by all the reporters, Hillary, etc.. that they would not notice. Asshole.

Posted by: Teresa on November 9, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK
The Times calls it a "mini-scandal".Mike Wilson at 2:16 PM
The 'scandal' is the American media which spins itself into a tizzy[scroll down] over its errors . Posted by: Mike on November 9, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a woman with a firmer grip on reality than all the political pundits and journalists put together. A most sensible woman, I'd say.

Forget the tip. Get her a cabinet position!

Posted by: LAS on November 9, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK
Or more precisely, a committee of hippos.

"Horses" was chosen deliberately. hippo- is a Greek root for horse, combining with -cracy the Greek-derived English suffix denoting a system of government.

(Hippopotamus comes from the same root, combined with potamos for "river".)

Posted by: cmdicely on November 9, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hip, hip for Anita Esterday.

And a CLUE, puh-leeze, for political reporters: stars don't carry money.

I know a guy who was a geeky New York Jewish intellectual (and eventually a professor emeritus at Brandeis) who was a speechwriter for JFK, starting when he was a Senator and continuing in the White House. Hanging around with him once, collecting stories as he kept tossing 'em out, I asked: okay, so what was Jack Kennedy like to work for?

He told a couple tales, but the one that this reminds me of is that they would go into these bars in Boston, Kenny O'Donnell and the Senator and assorted aides, including him, the junior guy -- and Kennedy was a STAR, just glittering like there was a spotlight on him, laughing at jokes and clapping people on the back and buying a round at every table...

... for which the last guy out of the bar had to pay, for the campaign. Bartenders in Boston don't give credit to political campaigns. (Which would have made this 1958, I think.) It's been damned near 50 years, and this guy STILL laughs about how he got stuck with these bar tabs, which of course the campaign was supposed to reimburse....

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 9, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

CM

I bow to your superior knowledge of Greek roots. But I still think that in descrbing a system of government, especially one connected to Eggie, hippopotamus would be the preferred image.

Posted by: tomeck on November 9, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Teresa wrote...The manager confirmed that the Clinton campaign left the tip in one of the stories, but "somehow" it did not end up being divvied up. My guess is that he pocketed the $100 bucks figuring the waitresses would be so excited by all the reporters, Hillary, etc.. that they would not notice. Asshole.

I wouldn't jump on the manager given the data we've got so far. Here's an excerpt from the followup article:

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.

If the manager was not there then IF a tip was left it would have been with a cashier or wait staff.

Possibly, but my read on the event is that it seems more like an after-the-fact "adjustment" by the HRC campaign staff.

Posted by: pencarrow on November 9, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I second the motion to give the waitress an important government position. Out of all this fiasco, she seems to have her head attached the most solidly.

Meanwhile, I am waiting for the first of many forwarded anonymous emails about this which will be forwarded by the freaky far right for the next 10 years - - - in 5...4...3...2...oh! there it is!

Posted by: bob in fla on November 9, 2007 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Funny thing, TR. Just about 3 hours ago I received an email about the Obama-no-hand-over-heart-during-pledge-of-allegiance scam. For the first time, I wrote a polite rebuttal "to all" about it. Now you say CNN is bitching Obama did not place his hand over his heart during the National Anthem. While true, as I recall, we never put hands over heart during the anthem, we sang it. BTW, that is what Obama did.

So CNN creates an issue over a non issue? BTW, what liberal media are we talking about?

Posted by: bob in fla on November 9, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

pencarrow Possibly, but my read on the event is that it seems more like an after-the-fact "adjustment" by the HRC campaign staff.

You can read? Who knew? Why would you play along with such utter inanity? Your read, indeed.

Read Somerby. Every day.

Posted by: TJM on November 9, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

I bow to your superior knowledge of Greek roots. But I still think that in describing a system of government, especially one connected to Eggie, hippopotamus would be the preferred image.

Ah, but not if you're remembering Caligula's horse, Senator Incitatus.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on November 9, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

When I saw "hippocracy" Jonathan Swift was the first thing that came to mind. But then I considered the source...

Posted by: Doug on November 9, 2007 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

"You people are really nuts."

God bless Ms. Esterday.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on November 9, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

TJM wrote... You can read? Who knew? Why would you play along with such utter inanity? Your read, indeed.

Well, sporting of you to stay above all this "inanity".

But... since I enjoy speculating on these type of events AND, in the interests of full disclosure, I am not a Hillary supporter, then please allow a few of us some leeway here to muse about this non-issue!

Posted by: pencarrow on November 9, 2007 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, but not if you're remembering Caligula's horse, Senator Incitatus.

I knew Senator Incitatus. Senator Incitatus was a friend of mine. Egbert's no Senator Incitatus.

Posted by: tom on November 9, 2007 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

hippocracy

Government by hippies? Why would we want that?

Posted by: thersites on November 9, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

When I saw "hippocracy" Jonathan Swift was the first thing that came to mind. But then I considered the source...

You're forgetting that egbert is a parody troll. Not a very good one, usually, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Posted by: thersites on November 9, 2007 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

pencarrow: "Did the HRC staffer actually leave a $100 tip? ... Is there any evidence that one was left since the claim was that it was left as cash?"

Jesus H. Christ, you people are simply amazing, you know? How can you be so clueless as to spin yourself dizzy with this NPR non-story and the New York Times follow-up article into the political equivalent of blind man's bluff?

The tab was for $157, and most people today pay such tabs by credit card since they're not inclined to carry hundred of dollars in cash.

What did you expect -- that HRC herelf would blithely drop a $100 bill on the table like some snobby diva as she sachayed her way out the door?

And if someone leaves such a tip on a credit, wouldn't it follow that such would be verifiable?

With numbnuts like these runnig free amongst us, small wonder that at least one-third of Americans still believe that Saddam was the 9/11 mastermind ...

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on November 9, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think you ran a contest to see what description best suites bloggers that take random post and blow them up into "crimes against humanity"

Did'nt comment at the time, but I think "tweezers" is a good description. Based on drug lingo "tweakers" Somebody that has done alot of crank, and it cleaning one part on the bathroom with a toothbrush.

"Tweezing" would be the act of going after candidates, policies or arguments in the same way a "tweaker" does. Fetishizing a small part of something for the whole.

The beltway does this all the time. Remember the beltway "tweezed" on the color of Al Gores suites.

Posted by: DonkeyKong on November 9, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

"I bow to your superior knowledge of Greek roots. But I still think that in descrbing a system of government, especially one connected to Eggie, hippopotamus would be the preferred image."

-- Tomeck


I've always considered Egbert to be a bit of a horse's ass, so...

Posted by: BongCrosby on November 10, 2007 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Tips...Tits......when it comes to Hillary, it's only a one letter difference and lo and behold you got yourself another newsworthy story good for soaking up 5-10 minutes of airtime.

Now if she only had a cleavage big enough to shove her tip money into, we'd have something to talk about.

Posted by: dweb on November 10, 2007 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

Some of the people sound as half cocked as the press. Bloviating based on a sound bite.

Clinton used the story of the waitress in a speech that appeared on the news. The story the waitress told was as follows: she had to hold down two jobs to support her family and that sucked. The owner said the bill was on the house, but Clinton didn't think to tip the waitresses. This indicated that they were out of touch with how things worked for ordinary working folk. The publicity hurt her because her other nursing home employer cut her hours because she didn't like Clinton. Nevertheless, she didn't blame Clinton and might even vote for her. Basically her reaction to her minute of fame. The Clinton campaign now claims that they paid the bill and tipped. Regardless she was telling the story as she experienced it.

And she was right, the story was no big deal.

Posted by: chew2 on November 10, 2007 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

From John Dean, http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20071102.html
The UK's Guardian has recently started an online edition of its publication specifically directed at American readers. Michael Tomasky, the editor, acknowledged that he is interested in promoting the liberal and progressive agenda. More importantly, and as he explained when introducing this new publication, he plans to start "looking at the events of the day from a slightly different angle than US papers, and focusing in on some matters that they might ignore."

Posted by: Anon on November 10, 2007 at 6:23 AM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on November 10, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

It's a real commentary about journalism that a waitress has a better grasp of priorities than do reporters following political candidates.

Yes they are pathetic.

Posted by: Scorpio on November 10, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

'hippocracy': government by hippopotamuses.

Posted by: cjenk415 on November 11, 2007 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

"When GHW Bush showed his lack of familiarity with grocery store scanners, liberals roasted him..."

As well they should.

Look, there's a small fistful of things that any candidate and all campaigns should be able to do (or avoid): Know the price of a gallon of milk, or gas, or a dozen eggs. Don't cross picket lines. Respect the working stiffs you come into contact with -- wait staff, truck drivers, etc. If there is some scandal that "everybody knows", you have to know it, too, especially if nobody talks about it.

What killed Bush over the supermarket scanner in 1992 was that it fed into the narrative that the NYT, among others, had settled on that Bush was a blueblood from Connecticut who had moved to Texas and then into Republican appointed politics (like the CIA and the Vice Presidency, although of course he was selected for that), so he was basically just utterly out of touch with ordinary people. The visual of the guy being fascinated by an ordinary supermarket checkout like he'd never seen one before was devastating.

Bush's guys insisted at the time the Bush did, too, know what a supermarket scanner was, he was just engaging the guy in a conversation about how it worked, trying to see if by helping cut costs (and jobs) it also cut prices for the consumer: it isn't just Democrats who legitimately bitch when the media decides on a narrative that hurts their guy.

Hell, Jerry Ford was surely the finest athlete who ever served as President, but the media never tired of making fun of him as a klutz.

A candidate can survive a negative narrative, but being genuinely out of touch with the way ordinary people live is an Achilles heel. Only humor can get you out of it -- when Ted Kennedy was running for the Senate the first time, his opponent damned near beat him (despite his brother being President and his other brother Attorney General at the time), cuz he said, rightly, that if his name had stopped at Edward Moore, he would never have been nominated: "You never worked a day in your life," the guy told Kennedy in their only debate.

But the Kennedy campaign knew an opportunity to lay THAT to rest when they saw one. The very next day, Kennedy was campaigning in front of a factory, shaking hands with the lunchbucket guys going in. One of 'em stopped, looked at Kennedy, and said: "You the guy who never worked a day in your life?" Kennedy shook his hand. The guy said, in front of TV cameras: "You ain't missed nothing."

Kennedy's televised, heartfelt bellylaugh got him the Senate seat.

I've always said that there are a handful of jobs that everybody should do at some point in their lives -- construction labor, fast food, etc., (add your own), cuz I believe it.

It's a gimmick, but a useful one, that some politicians do after they've been elected, to take a day or so two or three times a year to work a job alongside their constituents: I dunno if it's something a PRESIDENT should waste his or her time at, but let's admit the truth -- Rudy Giuliani waiting tables for tips? Hillary Clinton pouring concrete? Might be good for them, which in the end might be good for us. (Besides, who could resist McCain in the kitchen with the knives when Giuliani wants to know what the hell happened to that medium bacon cheesburger, dammit???)

Robert Byrd has an astonishing amount of memorabilia on the walls of all of his Senate offices, naturally -- but ya know the one that impresses me most? The little framed slips from his days as a meatcutter.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 11, 2007 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK
… my read on the event is that it seems more like an after-the-fact "adjustment" by the HRC campaign staff. pencarrow at 4:45 PM
In as much as the story was rebutted by the restaurant as well as the campaign, your 'read' is erroneous.
….Oh what a difference ideology makes! meatheadrepublican at 12:22 PM
Since you are speaking as a total ideologue, you should note that this is a story being promulgated by your right-wing media. Posted by: Mike on November 11, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK
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