Thursday, November 08, 2007

Politicians ARE Out of Touch

There was an absolutely sensational "little" story this morning on NPR's Morning Edition today that is suddenly gaining national attention and huge media play thanks to the enormous power of The Drudge Report. I'm guessing Matt Drudge wakes up to NPR (National Public Radio) just like I do.

Did you know that Drudge's website gets more visitors that CNN or FOX NEWS? And an "anti-Hillary" headline gets a lot of attention with Drudge's readers. But I digress.

David Greene's
When Real Lives Get Swept Into Campaign Rhetoric is exactly the type of reporting NPR does so very well. Personal, involved, in depth, really great journalism that is the norm on NPR and absent from virtually all other electronic media.

Click on the link above and then "Listen" to the story.

As I listened at about 5:30 am I was struck by a comment made by one of the subjects of the story, Iowa resident and waitress Anita Esterday. Esterday was asked by reporter Greene if she thought Hillary Clinton understood her economic plight (Esterday has to work two and three minimum wage jobs to make ends meet).

"I don't think she understood at all what I was saying," Esterday said. "I mean, nobody got left a tip that day."
Now the set up to this story is sort of important. Anita Esterday had waited on Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton and her staff during one of those whirlwind lunch stop/photo ops at a famous local eatery. Hillary had taken time to talk with Anita and Hillary was obviously touched by Esterday's story of hard work.

In fact Hillary was so impressed by Esterday she used her story in a speech later that afternoon. A speech that reporter Greene played back for Esterday and the radio audience.

Clinton actually used Esterday as a campaign prop.... and anecdote to show just how "in touch" with the local folks Clinton actually is. Such is the way of politics and politicians.

The lunch stop had been set up by Clinton's staff and the Maid-Rite Restaurant owner had already agreed to provide the lunch for free (no doubt in hope of obtaining the massive free publicity he has indeed received).

Even as I listened at 5:30 am I thought it was astonishingly stupid that no one on the Clinton staff planned to tip the waiters and waitresses at every single campaign stop. These stories always come out during a campaign.

Remember George Bush (the first) and his amazement at grocery store scanners? Some people still think that one silly gaff cost Bush the election against Bill Clinton. You can't afford to be seen as "out of touch."

Bill Clinton said to workers "I feel your pain" while it was obvious George Bush hadn't personally visited a grocery story in years.

No doubt later today some staffer will hustle over to the Maid Rite and give Esterday and her co-workers their much deserved tip.

And they should.

And, if you actually listen to the report (and you should), I believe Barack Obama will also find time to write the overdue note to Geri Punteney's cancer stricken brother. But, trust me, if Greene hadn't done the story Esterday would have never received a tip nor Punteney's brother a note.

They were both just campaign props used by future President's as they whirlwind through Iowa.

CORRECTION/ADENDUM: NPR reports on their website: 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.

WIZARD'S NOTE: It would be really tragic if the "fellow employee" didn't ever share the money.

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