New Yorkers should count themselves fortunate that for every one of Hillary Clinton’s carefully choreographed appearances, such as her recent turn on David Letterman’s show, there are also unscripted moments that allow voters to take the true measure of the candidate. One such moment was her warm embrace last year of Suha Arafat, wife of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, just after Mrs. Arafat had accused Israel of using poison gas on Arab children. And now, on Martin Luther King Day, at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Harlem, Mrs. Clinton again revealed that for her, ethics always take a back seat to expediency.
What happened was not subtle: Just before Mrs. Clinton took the stage, an associate of Mr. Sharpton, the Rev. Charles Norris, spewed anti-Semitic remarks from the podium. He said he was once fired from a company owned by “a Jew.” “I was fired by a Jew,” he said, adding that he had been tired of “working for those two Jews.” Pretty usual stuff among Mr. Sharpton and his cronies, but surely such ethnic slander demands immediate response from anyone who wants to represent the city and state of New York in the United States Senate.
But what did Hillary do in response to these ugly statements? It happens that she was out of the room at the time Mr. Norris spoke, but when she began her speech she was handed a note informing her of the anti-Semitic slurs. Rather than do what any decent person would have done, namely, politely tell the audience that she would not dignify such statements by her presence and walk off the stage, Mrs. Clinton sallied forth with her speech, not mentioning the hate-filled invective that had been the prologue to her own address. Indeed, after letting Mr. Norris’ incendiary screed pass without condemnation, she actually had the arrogance to call on other politicians-i.e., Mayor Rudolph Giuliani-to “reject the politics of division and retribution”; she would be the candidate who “unites, not divides.”
Of course Hillary loves hindsight. After she was told the public had reacted negatively to her hugging Mrs. Arafat, she claimed she had had a bad translator. This time, when her handlers later told her that it might not have looked so good to have had an anti-Semite as a warm-up act, she issued a statement saying, “Before I came on, I heard a speaker made divisive remarks which I soundly reject.”
One expects we will hear many such “clarifying” statements from Mrs. Clinton. Which is only natural, since left to her own devices she tends to let her taste for power overwhelm any notion of principled conduct. The truly amazing thing is that she thinks she can bluff New Yorkers into handing over a Senate seat to someone who can now add an apparent disregard for anti-Semitism to her curious catalogue of “qualifications.”
Rudy’s Driving School
Not for the first time, and surely not for the last, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has infuriated professional civil libertarians with a no-nonsense proposal aimed at reducing the carnage on our streets. He has decreed that reckless motorists will face police seizure of their vehicles. In a welcome extension of his policy toward drunk drivers, he said, “If you get arrested for reckless driving to the point where we charge you with a misdemeanor, we’re going to take your automobile from you. And we’re going to take it from you because we’re entitled to it and because it’ll remind you that this is important. This kills people.”
Exactly right. Reckless drivers endanger the fabric of the city’s pedestrian life. In 1998, before the drunk-driving initiative, 34 people died in accidents related to drunken driving. Last year, that number was down to 23. And the number of people charged with drunken driving decreased, meaning that people took the Mayor at his word.
The so-called “civil liberties” crowd is screaming foul over the reckless-driving crackdown. Norman Siegel, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, who stays up nights trying to make the city safe for strip club operators and drunk drivers, complained that the Mayor’s policy is “unfair and excessive.” Mr. Siegel won’t admit that reckless drivers, many of whom operate vehicles with out-of-state plates, pose an “unfair and excessive” threat to fellow motorists and pedestrians who follow the rules. New Yorkers who spend even a little time in cars have plenty of horror stories about drivers who treat Manhattan’s north-south avenues as if they were participants in a New York grand prix.
Now City Hall is prepared to take away their most precious possession-their automobiles. That’s progress, no matter what the civil libertarians say.
New York Ice Age
While the recent cold spell has suburbanites worrying that their pipes will burst and their cars won’t start each frigid morning, New Yorkers have been able to bask in one of the not-so-secret facts about the city. Namely, that bone-rattling Arctic weather, while a bit unpleasant, doesn’t make much of an impact on one’s life. With the exception of walking to the subway, bus stop or the corner to hail a taxi, Gothamites can happily spend several days indoors without sacrificing their quality of life.
That’s because New Yorkers can import whatever they need. Food? Every cuisine in the world can be delivered to your door. Exercise? We already do that inside, on the home treadmill or at the gym. Grocery stores deliver, and video rental companies have started doing likewise. Apartment buildings are very energy efficient, since most units do not have external walls that let in the chill. And when the furnace breaks in the ‘burbs, families have to huddle and wait overnight for the repair guy-if he even comes that week. In the city, the super is on it right away, because he knows he’ll be getting two dozen phone calls in the next 30 seconds. And no tips next Christmas if the heat doesn’t come back on.
Finally: Cold nights in New York City? Think Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant in An Affair to Remember . Cold nights in the suburbs? The Ice Storm .