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Harry Belafonte, Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton: Breaking up is hard to do

By John Burtis
Saturday, January 14, 2006

We all remember high school and how awkward it was to break up with someone you had been seeing. You rarely just told someone it was over. Usually you just drifted away, often hiding from the other person, until they got the message and left you alone. Though, it seemed easier at the time, I'm sure it was actually far more difficult, lasted longer and created far more damage to both parties. And so it is in adult life.

Take the Hillary Clinton and the Harry Belafonte relationship, for instance.

A strange pair indeed, but it's got all the ear marks of a high school relationship.

Harry has been a wild one for some time and has been known to crack wise about the President and America. Actually some of his comments have been more than wise and have bordered on the treasonous, but let's not split hairs.

Despite his wild and wacky ways, Harry was recently named as the AARP man of the year, so despite his inability to verbally contain himself, the accolades keep rolling in, keeping him in the public eye and lending him some air of credibility with the huddled masses yearning to be free, from Venezuela to Cuba.

Hillary, on the other hand, has left her radical days behind her at Wellesley, married up, sort of, and is said to be her party's overwhelming front runner. And if the NY Times is to be believed, except for the mere troublesome act of voting, she all but sits in the White House now, courtesy of the 2008 election landslide headed her way.

Back in the heyday of this familiarity, in September of 2005, Hillary and Hammerin' Hank, as Harry is affectionately called by his legion of worshippers, from dictators to dunces, so nicknamed for telling it like it is, appeared together at a Congressional Black Caucus wing-ding, where they couldn't be chummier.

While at the podium, flanked by Hillary, Harry really laid it on, about how pissed off he was, hollering about US policy making a wreck of the planet, that American policy is, "…written on the walls of oppression everywhere."

At the end of his supercharged jeremiad, Hillary immediately leapt to the rostrum to add her own venomous comments in support of his crazed fabrications. The great Democratic bugaboo, the Bush administration has made, "…a concerted effort to make it even harder for poor people and for non-English-speaking people and for elderly people to vote in this country," she bellowed to the cheers of the crowd and supportive smiles from Hammerin' Hank.

But relationships can wither over time. Sometimes ardor cools, the polls track lower, expediencies wane, people move on.

Then Harry recently skipped town and really got out of line visiting his old pal Hugo Chavez in that burgeoning people's republic in Venezuela. Sure, the tropics can heat up the discourse, such as it was, but Harry let fly with pretty zany charges even for Harry, calling President Bush, "…the greatest terrorist in the world," among other tart turns of phrase. It caught on big with the press. The fall out wasn't good and came at a bad time, what with the latest polls, Bush's improved popularity and Iran and all.

Then there was Thursday's fund raising gig in New York, after Harry's return, which sort seemed like a prom gone bad. A date from those giddy days in the fall had fallen from grace, like the football player who hadn't finished the season, or the basketball player who lost the final game. Visions of loser crept into the prom queen's head. The dude was a bummer, better watch out or I'll be branded a loser, too. I can't be seen agreeing with a nut case.

Suddenly there were no more pictures, no photo ops. Hillary was as far away from Harry as you could get and still be in the same building. No more rushing to the mic to up the ante following the erstwhile Caribbean singer's ravings and to substantiate his wildest bouts of extreme paranoia. No, the coat holding days were definitely over. Hillary was avoiding Harry like the plague and giving definitely giving him the hint.

This is not to say that Hillary may not find other uses for Harry in the future. She may want him to introduce her when she plays the theater of the absurd. She might ask him to open for her in Ethiopia or Sudan. He could come in handy if bin-Laden visits her White House. But, come to think of it, that might not be a good idea, or result in a friendly meeting nor get her the best in positive PR.

If things don't go well and Harry doesn't get the message, Hillary will have to fall back on that old feminist saw, that of just saying, "No." And if that fails to get the message across, the next line in the feminist Book of Nays reads, "What part of No don't you understand." But that's hard to say and could result in the dreaded backlash, which all politicians, especially those courting The NY Times, fear most.

John Burtis is a former Broome County, NY firefighter, a retired Santa Monica, CA, police officer. He obtained his BA in European History at Boston University and is fluent in German. He resides in NH with his wife, Betsy. John Burtis can be reached at: letters@canadafreepress.com

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