Saturday, November 17, 2007

My New Hero

Latest newspaper column:

My friends, I am pleased to announce that today I have a new hero. Her name is Anita Esterday.

She's a waitress at a Maid-Rite restaurant in Iowa, where she serves up some of that chain's famous "loose meat" sandwiches. (I've always thought "loose meat" sounded vaguely disgusting, but Midwesterners apparently eat them by the truckload, so maybe they're good).

Anyway, Ms. Esterday was working behind the lunch counter at the Maid Rite in Toledo, Iowa, when Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff rolled through. Little did she know that, when she was assigned to wait on the group, she was on her way to becoming the center of the kind of much-ado-about-nothing kerfluffle that has become the trademark of the so-called "liberal" media's coverage of Democratic candidates.

The day after Hillary mentioned Esterday, a single mom, in her stump speech, National Public Radio reported that she'd said in an interview that Clinton didn't leave a tip.

I have to confess: When my wife and I heard the story on NPR's "Morning Edition," we looked at each other and winced. "Ooh," we said, "that's gonna hurt." I even opined that that was going to be 2007's version of "the Scream," that endlessly hyped, over-the-top oration that served as the death knell for Howard Dean's campaign. Not because I thought it meant anything, but because I know the media.

After all, what do a candidate's positions on the issues really matter, so long as he or she did something to give the guys on late-night TV something to make fun of? Let's not bicker and argue about Clinton's constant attempts to have things both ways on subjects like withdrawal from Iraq and immigration. The real issue is how good or bad a tipper she is.

I mean, if she wins, how are we going to be able to have any international credibility if we invite Vladimir Putin to a state dinner and Hillary stiffs the waiter?

With depressing predictability, the story spread like wildfire, being picked up immediately by online scandal monger Matt Drudge. Soon ABC and NBC were carrying the tale, because God forbid some right-wing shill on the Internet should cover a story and the major networks not flock after him, bleating like sheep.

Even The New York Times got into the act, calling it a "potentially embarrassing mini-scandal." The only thing that surprises me is that some idiot hasn't dubbed it "Tip-gate."

By the way, is anyone in the "liberal" media following Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson around and recording how much they tip? I certainly haven't heard anything about it if they are. Is it because when a prominent Republican treats a working-class person like dirt, it isn't news, it's what everyone expects? Seems a bit unfair to the Republicans, don't you think?

I'll give the Clinton campaign this, though: They're savvy enough to realize that there is no charge that's too silly or too devoid of substance for the national media to spin up into an issue that dogs a candidate for weeks. And rather than make the Kerry mistake of hoping the stupid thing will just dry up and blow away, they've decided to wade right into the mud and fight back.

To that end, they've established a "rapid response" team, complete with its own Web site called The Fact Hub, to debunk stories like this.

Hillary stiffed a waitress? Not so, they said. The bill was paid by a campaign staffer, who did leave a tip. In fact, they said, the staffer left a $100 tip on a $157 check, a whopping 64 percent. So, of course, Fox News' E.D. Hill found something to criticize about that. Calling Clinton a typical "Learjet liberal," Hill sneered about how the alleged big tip showed "what people say about the Democratic Party -- that it's out of touch with reality."

Let's review: Hillary didn't leave a tip, she's a hypocrite and mean to working people. Hillary tips too much, she's a "Learjet liberal" out of touch with reality. Maybe Fox should change its motto from "We report, you decide," to "Heads we win, tails you lose."

Then the hard-hitting investigative journalism really began. The manager acknowledged that a tip was left, but didn't say how much. Esterday insisted in a followup call that she hadn't seen any of it. (One wonders if perhaps the manager may have pocketed the cash).

But then, my friends, is when Anita said something that made her my new hero. "You people are nuts," she told one of the dozens of reporters who'd been plaguing her. "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."

Anita, you rule. Maybe NPR should put you in charge.


Anonymous said...

Go Anita.

Of course, they were probably in her way as she was trying to get home after a long shift at the Maid Rite. Five bucks says none of those idiots has never worked an eight to ten hour shift on their feet at a restaurant.

She has more important things to worry about. Like the fact that she probably isn't even getting paid minimum wage and has to make up her earnings with tips. Anybody ask her that question?

randolph said...

Henh, henh, henh.

Foxed news--"You distort, we deride."

Hi, Dusty!