Booing Hillary

by Kurt Kaletka

Recently, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) addressed a crowd of people at a charity event in New York City to benefit the victims of the World Trade Center attacks. When she stepped up to address the crowd, she was met with boos and cheers alike from firemen and policemen who were in attendance. No specific reason was cited on the part of these city employees; it was just spontaneous hatred and disrespect. Most of the crowd had the decency to rein in their personal agendas out of respect for the office and for the victims of the September 11 tragedy, but some just had to hit below the belt.

If the press were nearly as liberal as so many like to claim, this incident would be getting reported all over the place. And if Hillary were similarly as liberal as so many like to claim, she'd have been presented as a martyr for having endured this. Neither happened. Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh put their two cents in, but of course they fixed on the fact that she was booed, not simultaneously cheered and booed. Big difference. By this we can see that there wasn't a groundswell of Hillary-hating among New York City's firemen and policemen and the rest of the crowd, as these two "journalists" would have you believe, but that there were some thoughtless, tasteless mouthbreathers among the crowd who just had to get their licks in, despite all this talk about how we're "all coming together" these days. As a passionate opponent of Bush, I still wouldn't dis the man at such an event. I can't understand how America's right-wingers are so overtly belligerent to Senator Clinton.

A lesson in old-fashioned manners can be taken from the political cartoonist Herbert Block (aka "Herblock"), who died earlier this month. Herblock started cartooning during the Hoover administration, and kept at it until August 2001, when he fell ill at the age of 91. Anyway, Herblock was brazenly liberal, and his cartoons made no apologies for his liberalism. When Richard Nixon appeared on stage, unshaven, to debate Jack Kennedy in 1960, Herblock started drawing Nixon with a perpetual five o'clock shadow. However, when Nixon was elected president in 1968, Herblock stopped with the five o'clock shadow, "out of respect for the office of the president," as he put it. Even during Watergate, Herblock drew a clean-shaven Nixon.

I'm not saying that this consideration is unique to liberals or even to liberals and moderates; Herblock is just a good example. Conservative political cartoonist Jeff MacNelly never let his beliefs get in the way of good taste, either. I'm sure that there are plenty of conservatives and even right-wingers who are capable of treating people decently and not spitting on our nation's institutions, particularly at charity events. If George W. Bush or John Ashcroft were at a charity event, I probably wouldn't clap too enthusiastically when they approached the podium, but I'd still clap. But this disgraceful behavior seems to be part and parcel to the Get-Clinton crowd. It's all well and good to dislike Bill Clinton or even all Democrats, but the vocal, public behavior of these people is monstrous, brings shame to America and the Americans. There's no excuse for such behavior, no matter whether the media's been calling you a "hero" for the past month or not. With such public esteem comes a measure of responsibility. In America, no one should be beyond reproach, even the heroes of the day. Especially the heroes of the day.

Kurt Kaletka is a writer, a teacher, and a marketing guy for a financial services company. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.