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A Tip For Ya

The NPR story has been amended with the following, which I’m reproducing here, as well as linking to in-context.

Editor’s Note: 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.

I am relieved and somewhat gratified to hear this, and having just hollered so loud, feel that I needs must holler just as loud about the clarification.

13 Responses to A Tip For Ya

  1. mercuryeric

    Oh, thank God.


  2. rachel_edidin

    Thank you, and hooray for both journalistic ethics and human decency!

  3. rschamberger

    That makes a lot more sense.

  4. kali921

    But, see, now you can accuse Hillary of trying to buy votes, in the grandest tradition of Roykian machine politics! C’mon, Greg!

  5. jonlaw

    distinction without a difference

    Okay, it was clarified that a generic tip for the whole restaurant was left. That may mean that the campaign was not completely souless, but, my concerns are not particularly allayed. We still have the experiences of a hard working woman appropriated for political gain without permission or consultation, and with real world consequences that were adverse. The personal touch, outside of an autograph, was lacking. A tip for service is personal, left to signify a gratefullness for the personal service received. An autograph is not a tip, and gratifies the ego of the autographer as much as rewarding the faith of the fan. Hillary turned a personal interaction with and the personal service from a waitress into a political commodity without thought and without humility, and without a personal acknowledgement, a warning, a request for permission, or even a tip.

    Yes money changed hands, but the sentiment that goes with a tip never got to that woman. There was no basic communication of appreciation that I hope that I would give for someone who provided me with personal service. And here, the politician intruded herself into the woman’s life, made her open up, and used that for fodder on the political trail, with no thought for the feeling or impact.

    Now one could say that you have to expect this kind of vapirism from politicians. After all, they are in the business of getting elected, of connecting with people to get votes, and often times, the only compelling way to do so is to tell stories of personal experiences as kinds of political parables.

    Well and good, but this story should remind every politician that exploiting these little real world moments have meaning beyond the crass political metaphors, and can actually cause real pain and damage to people.

    Sure everybody does it, but the are degrees of consent. Are you approached or do you approach. Is the person forthcoming or do you draw out. Is the person there as a supporter, or have you swooped in as customer or a visitor to their place of employment? In this case, every factor should have mitigated against the appropriation of the woman’s story without some direct consent or concern that she know that she was going to unwittingly be propelled into the spotlight.

    I don’t know what other politicians may be violating the feelings and concerns of the people the meet (probably all ogf them), but Hillary just has been exposed in a flagrant instance and I find that very troubling.

    I think our rather pitiful journalist ought to follow up on these sort of issues, because I would really like to elect a person who hasn’t traded away all of his or her humanity, which I am suspecting is possibly the case with Hillary.

    Your reality may vary.

  6. aylara

    Re: distinction without a difference

    I hardly think a mix-up at a restaurant involving a tip can be equated with “traded away” humanity. Candidates have large entourages with security personnel, so it’s not exactly the most homey atmosphere where you could just leave some money on a table like a regular person. I’d assume if she had handed the tip to the waitress, she might be vilified as well for giving her a “handout.” And restaurant personnel will steal more than their fair share of tips if they think they can get away with it.

    You may want to consider the candidate in terms of how she might lead the free world instead of the method she chose to leave a tip.

  7. jonlaw

    Re: distinction without a difference

    You might actually want to read my post and my prior post on Greg’s original reaction before you think you have figured out the way I am judging things.

    It is entirely possible that I did not make myself clear, trying to make blog comments on the ride home from work has that effect.

    This is what I object to: Hillary chased down a personal story from the waitress who had no choice in the matter as to whether to interact with the candidate or not. Despite the waitress’ reluctance to talk about personal matters, the candidate continued to pursue her until she opened up. Once she had, the candidate took the woman’s personal story and turned it into a political commodity to help her with her campaign without any permission or compensation to the woman. The real person behind the story had her life get worse. The candidate profited off the interaction by “connecting” with voters in the state.

    I object to the caculated and dehumanizing exploitation for personal political gain, and I would say that this particular lense on the actions of this paticular politician (who probably typifies rather than proving any exception to political campainers) tells me that there is a disconnect and a lack of real human empathy or understanding. The waitress got it right. Hillary did not understand her and her situation, and perhaps is incapable of such understanding.

    Thats what I was saying, that is what I meant, and everyone who thought that handlers leaving money meant that this story was sound and fury signifying nothing are, in my own opinion, fooling yourselves.

  8. kali921

    Re: distinction without a difference

    This is what I object to: Hillary chased down a personal story from the waitress who had no choice in the matter as to whether to interact with the candidate or not.

    Not quite. Being within twenty feet of Hillary Clinton does not automatically negate something called “free will.” The waitress could have simply walked away.

  9. jonlaw

    Re: distinction without a difference

    Your willingness to blame the victim and exonerate the exploiter leaves me sad and sick. Sure, you tell the most famous female politician in America that you don’t want to talk to or serve her. You are surrounded by her people in your place of business, and your boss is welcoming her with open arms. Gee, yeah, you have all the free will in the world and total freedom to choose . . . what? Cheese off the most important customer who has ever entered you place of business and who won’t leave you alone to do your job until you open up? Damn, yes, you can just ignore all that pressure like it is nothing, and then go and work your two other jobs.

    Yeah, free will, nothing to negate, limit or cut it off at allin that context. Perfectly justifies outright exploitation, cold cacalculated, and as far as I am concerned heartless exploitation. She probably wanted to be exploited. Doesn’t every American just voluntarily surrender to celebrity and should be grateful for the very brush with greatness?


    Far from your witty observation negating my point, you further entrench me in my view.

  10. admin


    Here’s the thing that I’m looking to see clarified — Senator Clinton did nothing that every single other politician in history hasn’t done — ie, I was on the stump, I met a citizen, I am telling that citizen’s story in order to forward my agenda: I want you to elect me.

    There isn’t a candidate who hasn’t done this, and I find it nearly impossible to believe that those who have bothered to clear it with the citizen(s) in question first. So are they all being cold and calculated when they stop to talk to potential voters? I suppose, in a way, yes — after all, they’re trying to win votes. Is that exploitation for personal gain? Again, I suppose one could argue yes — though I think we stray into some very dangerous territory with the logical extensions of that argument. Am I not allowed to relate on a panel a discussion I had with a fan without the fan’s permission? Am I not allowed to discuss an individual’s reactions to my work with the wider audience? I’ve done both these things, several times, and I’ve done them to service myself — either to explain a point to a larger audience, or to share a reaction, or otherwise, ultimately, serve my work.

    I’m not seeking to stir the pot to a boil, here; but I do think it’s critical that we distinguish between a flaw in system and a flaw of the individual.

    Edit to add:

    The root of this, to me, seems to come from Ms. Esterday’s contention that she has suffered because of the experience, that she’s lost hours at one of her jobs because her employer doesn’t like Clinton. That, however, I find to be just as troubling, and a flaw on the part of Esterday’s employer, rather than of Senator Clinton — if her employer is punishing her for a perceived political bias, that’s guilt by association, that’s discrimination.

    Again, just musing.

  11. jonlaw

    Re: Clarificatio?

    I agree with many of your points, and I think that if my comments to your two posts are read, it can be seen that I am not singling out Hillary, but am concerned with the system. I am concerned about each politician, not just Hillary. But she is the one who got caught. Now, as you say, do you have to hand out a consent form to every joeblow you speak to just so you can bring up the interaction at a later, possibly public event. I believe that the answer, based on my prior reasoning is no.

    But, and it is an important “but” the context of the interaction is key. Someone approaches you, volunteers personal information to you, that is one thing (epitomized in the Obama piece of the item). On the other hand, you cross examine a service worker at her place of employment within a potentially coercive atmospher to build up a database of useful “I am of the people” rhetoric for your next stump speech. Well, that I think does call for a warning. Now maybe no one would ever ask permission. After all, the information was not beaten out of the waitress, but the way the information was obtained and the apparent caculation behind it, within a pressure laden atmosphere is just too troubling for me. That people can be so thoughtless to think there is nothing wrong and that it makes no difference (free will, etc.), just burns me.

    Now, clearly the employer retribution, if that is what it is, is primarily on the employer. However, if the waitress had just been left to do her job, been treated politely, without being made the su ject of an inqisition for political parable, well, it seems likely that said waitress could have at least kept her precarious life in balance. But she seems to have been rather ground up in the heedless political machine. A tiny, personal tragedy, but one that the politician, and perhaps most or all politicians, don’t get.

    Perhaps there is no villain in the story, just the force of political nature and the survivor who has to piece together a life after the tornado came through. But damn, I am looking and seeing human agency responsible for the damage, and that agency should be held to account and made to be more responsable in the future. Certainly I mean by that Hillary Clinton, but even more, the whole campaigning system as Greg points out. I am troubled b y a large scale problem, of which this is but one instance.

    However, if partisans try to dismiss it as “just what happens” and think that it means nothing in the larger scheme of their candidate’s ambitions, then they are dead wrong. It means something, and it means something to me.

    How do I think a candidate who acts like this would lead the free world (to answer a previous post)? Ruthkessly, heedlessly, with good intentions, but little understanding or true compassion for real world consequences. Little things matter. The ice berg is mostly unseen. You observe the visible and deduce the unseen. You follow the evidence.

    I don’t like what it is telling me.

    And no, damn it, I am not part of the “vast right wing conspiracy.”. Nor of a left wing one come to that.

    I am looking for some sanity and some decency!

    And now, I had better just shut up, because you either get it, or you don’t. Just keep your minds open and follow the damn evidence!

  12. jonlaw

    Still not cleared up, and still troubling

    Okay, the campaign machine has responded, and NPR has done some mea culpa,, but the one person I trust from this part of yesterday’s story is sticking to her guns, and still acting the part of the better person. She isn’t mad because she did not got tipped (now remedied with a $20 payment), but I still think, outside of the whole tipping incident that the treatment of ordinary people by the campaigns is the real story. Anita Esterday has had a hard life, and she did not get a fair shake from a campaign that used her for political gain. The tipping is the hot button issue here, because it is straight forward, and people can relate. The facts are hardly yet clear, and I am sorely troubled by the following issue “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.”

    But I am still most troubled by the complex issue, the deep how you treat and value people issue, that should be pursued by the press for every candidate. Again, I have not particular bone to pick with Hillary Clinton, other than the fact that she is the current example of the bad acts that I believe are seen again and again. For me, she crossed the line in her behavior, and I suspect this is common, but I don’t know, because this kind of reporting is not routine or widespread. It is not the focus on minutiae, it is a window onto how the person at the heart of a political-media machine handles the little things of humanity.

    Again, it is likely that all our candidates move through like unfeeling forces of nature. But the snapshot caught this week was of this particular candidate, and I cannot condone it (nor apparently shut up about it, despite my better judgment).

  13. wolf_chronicles

    Re: Still not cleared up, and still troubling

    I certainly don’t mean to aggravate the situation (and I’m aware that this may be the case) but I simply wanted to say that we only have the media’s version of the story. As none of us were there to witness the actual situation and behavior of those present, waitress and senator included, our judgement and opinions are sincerely lacking in any actual facts. Should Mrs. Clinton have included the waitress in her speech to the public without consent? I should think not. But I must agree with a previous comment, no matter who asks (senator or pariah on society) you are never obligated to give an answer. The words, “I’m sorry, that’s private.” with a congenial smile can help smooth over any situation and no hard feelings need occur. As to the tip, well I’m just not sure. Perhaps because of the size of the tip it was thought that it would be best not to leave it sitting on a table for anyone to come by and take. Honestly, human interaction is a very dangerous concoction and often we find ourselves saying or doing something that we regret or don’t feel is part of our character as a whole. I am no great lover of american politics in general and hope this isn’t taken as a defense of Mrs. Clinton. I simply thought it was odd that this was made to be such a big deal but Senator Obama forgetting to write a promised letter was conveniently forgotten. (I really am joking about that last one.) To add a personal belief, no politician is a good politician!

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