Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Red Hen incident

Recently Sarah Huckabee Sanders was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant for her role in defending Trump. This of course made all the news reports. 20 years ago when OJ Simpson was absurdly acquitted of murder there were any number of local restaurants who told him he wasn’t welcomed. And those that did allow him stay found many of their other patrons got up and left in protest.  I would have left in a heartbeat.  Very few, if any, of those incidents made it to national newscasts.

But it reminds me of a somewhat similar story about Nixon when he was president.

His western White House was an estate in San Clemente, California – a gorgeous beach community about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. In nearby Newport Beach there was (and still is) a fantastic funky restaurant called The Crab Cooker. Fresh grilled seafood served on paper plates. Very informal. Reasonable prices. Free breadsticks. And no reservations. But one of the few places actually worth the wait.

One day, during Nixon’s presidency when Tricky was at the western White House, the owner of the Crab Cooker got a call saying the president would like to dine there that Saturday night. The owner was delighted and suggested he come around 5:30 so he wouldn’t have to wait long. The White House rep said, “You don’t understand. The president of the United States wants to dine in YOUR restaurant.” “Yes, that’s a great honor,” said the Crab Cooker owner, “but unfortunately we don’t take reservations. Have him come at 5:30. He’ll get right in.”

The White House person said, “Reservations? No. We want you to close the entire restaurant for the night so the president and his party can attend.” “What? Oh no, we don’t do that,” Mr. Crab Cooker said. So Nixon never ate at the Crab Cooker.

The Crab Cooker did not go public with that story but word of it leaked out. And business skyrocketed as a result – much more than any publicity had the president actually eaten there. 

Sometimes the fork and spoon are mightier than the sword.

43 comments :

E. Yarber said...

They still haven't accounted for those eighteen and a half missing lobsters, however.

VP81955 said...

Hail to the chief? Nope, hail to the restaurateur.

E. Yarber said...

As for Sanders, it'll be news when someone calls the cops on her for using the bathroom.

normadesmond said...

Nice!

Andrew said...

That's a great story. But I don't think that's a partisan thing. It's more like some hot-shot (in this case Nixon) is basically saying "Don't you know who I am?" and the response is "You're no one special, we'll treat you the same as everybody." I would have no problem with any restaurant doing that to any politician or celebrity who takes himself too seriously.

McAlvie said...

I've been reading some criticism of folks protesting at restaurants, claiming they should let people eat in peace. That sounds good on the surface, but here is the reality: these people live in a bubble. They only mix with their own kind, and they spend their days inside this bubble where nothing is allowed to be said that isn't in agreement with whatever the policy du jour is. The have been effectively segregated and kept in isolation by their jobs.

And those jobs are supposed to working for the American people. So what are the American people supposed to do if they don't have access? They only thing available is to confront them in public. Their discomfort is not more important than my country and my Constitutional rights. If they had the guts to face the public and hear the people, it wouldn't be necessary. But it they are going to attempt to hide in order to perpetuate their little bubble universe, then it is our DUTY to go where they are. OUR DUTY.

"... when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security"

This is what the Founding Fathers wanted, they said so right there in the Declaration of Independence. WE HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO CONFRONT THOSE WHO WEILD POWER OVER US. More, IT IS OUR DUTY.

You really need to read the Declaration of Independence, because it lists the reason why we declared our independence, and many of those reason are eerily similar to what is going on with our government today.

We already threw off one who declared himself absolute ruler over us, now it looks like we have to do it again.


MIKE BOTULA said...

The version of your Nixon story was that Tricia Nixon wanted to chow down at the Crab Cooker. I didn't realize that it was the man himself. It was during the Watergate period and the area was solid GOP territory. I've waited in line at the Crab Cooker many times to be served. As you say, it's worth it. Thanks for the reminder. Buon Apetito!

George w said...

You and the huff post must be having a bad day

Michael said...

A couple of stories come to mind ....

One, told by Tip O'Neill, involved the patrician Republican governor of Massachusetts, Christian Herter, who came to a barbecue famished from a day of campaigning. He got his chicken leg and said to the server, "Could you give me another one?" She said, "Sorry, one to a customer." He said, "Do you know who I am?" She said no. He said, "I'm the governor." She said, "Do you know who I am?" He said no. She said, "I'm the lady who serves the chicken and you get one piece."

The other is that in New York City, the "mother lodge," as Red Smith called it (and this is a chance to point out that his given name was Walter Wellesley Smith, which made him, an editor said, the greatest sports columnist with two women's colleges in his name), was Toots Shor's restaurant. One night, Charlie Chaplin tried to get ahead of the line and was told to wait. As he stood there stewing, Toots yelled at him, "Hey, Charlie, be funny for the folks!"

Brian Phillips said...

When I was in high school, I heard from one of my teachers that the small stretch of the 5 had been named for Richard Nixon, but you'd never know it, because the sign kept getting torn down.

tavm said...

I just thought of a retro commercial for The Crab Cooker with Nixon as spokesperson if he had been allowed to eat at that place beginning with him saying "Hi, I'm President Nixon and I just had crabs!"

KLAC Guy said...

Interesting. The way I heard the story is that when the White House rep was told that Nixon would have to wait in line, he came and waited. Nice to finally know the real story.

Coram_Loci said...

Whether you discriminate is a different matter than how you discriminate.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

I have NO problem with the owner of a restaurant (or any other establishment) telling them they won't service someone or provide a service. The 'public' can decide if that was a good decision by shopping there.

I have no issue with the Red Hen making this decision, although hearing that her staff then followed and heckled Sarah Sanders' family and friends to other restaurants is just wrong.

Keith Nichols said...

Considering how inaccessible most public figures are, it might have been better to let Sanders eat at the restaurant, where the public could address her directly. I've been imagining a situation where our lawmakers are not provided a sycophantic refuge in DC but are afforded facilities only in their districts. That might at least introduce them to more of their constituents, where they might hear many of us protesting their misguided measures.

Andrew said...

@McAlvie: The problem is that people on the other side of you politically can play the same game, for the same reasons. For example, what if pro-life people were constantly and aggressively confronting pro-choice politicians in restaurants? They can justify it the same way you do - "it's our duty," "they're living in a bubble," etc. I personally think this is a dangerous direction for our country to go.

I have no problem with telling Nixon to wait in line, however, but that's very different.


Mike Barer said...

I wonder what the people who are outraged by this would think if the same Sarah worked for Obama and the same thing happened. I'm sure differed words would be used to speak about her.

Dhruv said...

Really great post!!!

This is one of the reasons that I love your country. Everyone is treated equal. No special treatment. No hero worship.

In my country politicians, cricketers and movie stars are treated like gods.

estiv said...

Andrew: "For example, what if pro-life people were constantly and aggressively confronting pro-choice politicians in restaurants?"

No "what if" necessary. Pro-life people do constantly and aggressively confront women seeking abortions, and have for decades. The people calling for civility now have had little to say about that. And some "pro-life" people have murdered doctors who perform abortions.

E. Yarber said...

"Hearing that her staff then followed and heckled Sarah Sanders' family and friends to other restaurants is just wrong."

I agree that story sounds just wrong. If Sanders was willing to complain that she had to leave, why didn't she add that the Red Hen's employees then abandoned their other customers to harass her the rest of the night? The Washington Post noted that the staff finished their shift and left instructions for the morning manager before closing.

Tom Galloway said...

I always liked this joke variant on "Do you know who I am?".

It's a Subject 101 final exam, with over a hundred students in the course. The professor calls time, and all the students but one put down their pens and hand in their exam. That one student is still writing, and keeps doing so for another couple of minutes while the professor glares at him. Finally, the student gets up and approaches the professor and the pile of exams on his desk.

The professor says "Sorry, but you went way over time. I'm not going to accept this exam."

Student: "Do you know who I am?"

Professor: "No, and it wouldn't matter if I did!"

The student quickly shoves his exam in the middle of the piled stack and runs out, since the professor won't be able to tell which exam was his.

(Yes, I can also think of some outs for the professor. Still funny in my opinion)

gottacook said...

Here's the best "what the Red Hen owner should have done" that I've come across: The food order never arrives at the table, and whenever an inquiry is made about the delay, the response is "I'll have to get back to you on that one, Sarah" - her own frequent response to reporters asking uncomfortable questions.

Buttermilk Sky said...

In 2012 Chris McMurray, owner of a bakery in Virginia called Crumb & Get It, refused to serve Joe Biden because he was "taking a stance for my faith, my faith in God." He was the right's hero of the week. Biden didn't tweet lies about how dirty and dilapidated the place was -- he just left because he is an adult.


Dhruv, I assume you're being sarcastic.

Anonymous said...

Im with Mike Bearer on this. If the shoe were on the other foot then the two parties would take the exact opposite positions on this issue to the ones that theyre taking now.

Sean

McAlvie said...

Bumble Bee - What you heard is wrong. It seems to have been a wild embellishment (okay, a lie) started by her own father. Who does that? Was it not embarrassing enough for her, he had to make it worse? Was he feeling left out? Just wanted to make more trouble? Or maybe that's the way Sarah told it to him? Either way, that's wrong.

But you know what Twain said about a lie getting around the world before the truth can get it's pants on. The truth is boring, so people embellish every time they pass it on. Don't get suckered into that.

Seriously, there's a ton of actual verified accounts with interviews of people who were actually there. It was a pretty small blip on the radar in the DMV area, but thanks to the lies spread through social media, the staff is getting death threats.

That's really, really wrong. It's nothing short of propaganda of the sort popular in Nazi Germany. Next thing you know it will be Crystal Night all over again, because people just love finding an excuse to be nasty.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristallnacht

MikeN said...

Buttermilk, Biden wasn't refused service. He wanted to make it into a campaign photo-op, and the owner said no.

Crab Cooker was very justified. They shouldn't be shutting down streets, or blocking people from going to their own house because the President is holding a fundraiser nearby. When Obama went to a golf course, Secret Service went and did a search of everyone who was playing on the course. They should have refused and said if the President considers him a threat, he can wait until he's left the course.

Dhruv said...

No I am not. Here, the people I mentioned are treated as gods. They would have shut down the entire place inconveniencing others, to serve these overlords.

But in USA, like Ken and many others mention here in the comments, these powerful people are treated just like any other person. No special treatment.

Hence my admiration for your country.

Alex Bell said...

If you go to Snopes, you will discover what happened. There was a brief incident at the second restaurant but there wasn’t yelling. I wouldn’t have mentioned it if McAlvie hadn’t mentioned Nazi Germany and Kristallnacth—now THAT is embellishment and he should be ashamed.

SwiftPope said...

However, Sanders has no problem with businesses refusing to serve LGBT people, or even hanging a sign out front that the business does not serve such people: https://www.juancole.com/2018/06/complains-restaurant-immigrants.html

Coram_Loci said...

@Keith Nichols

“I've been imagining a situation where our lawmakers are not provided a sycophantic refuge in DC but are afforded facilities only in their districts. That might at least introduce them to more of their constituents, where they might hear many of us protesting their misguided measures.”

If State legislatures still appointed Senators then its likely that Senators would spend more time around state capitals and less time huddled in DC. The 17th Amendment has thrown things out of whack. A purpose of indirect election of Senators was to encourage debates from different angles. Imagine if a toy was designed by a committee of lawyers. Then, after the committee approved the design, they toy had to again by approved by.... a committee of laywers. When Representatives and Senators share constituents they are like those two committees: each looking at the toy from the same perspective, thinking about the same issues, appeasing the same constituents.

If we want federal politicians to come out of the national bubble then there must be an incentive for them to look back to their states. Repealing the 17th Amendment would help create that incentive.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

McAlvie, according to Snopes you are correct https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/huckabee-sanders-red-hen-protest/ on what happened afterwards.
You are right that stories are often stretched and exaggerated.
I appreciate you letting me know my facts were wrong.
Everyone should simmer down and we a lot more respectful to each other as people. But we know that’s not going to happen soon because there are always extremists on every side.

Btw, This isn’t Kristallnacht. Not at all.

Andrew said...

@estiv: I'm aware of that. I actually know a man who escorts women to the door once they arrive at a clinic, to protect their safety. But still, that's not the same as getting in people's faces at restaurants and grocery stores.

Boomska316 said...

I was just thinking about how many famous political figures appeared on Cheers. And Oliver North had that cameo on Wings. Friday Question:Do you think that sort of thing would fly today in these highly divided times?

Myles Warden said...

Mike B... You realize that Obama did have someone in Sarah's position when he was in office yet they were not under fire like this. Why not? Do you even know their name? Why not? There is not equal "what about if" that can be used here. This White House is NOTHING like the Obama White House. This is beyond political parties and more about character and the character of those in this country. Will we sit by and "civilly" watch kids lose their parents, people lose rights and the government lie to us daily or will we speak up and stand up? Obama couldn't have done half of what Trump did and still get elected so the "what if" is voided at this point. Obama's campaign ends when the "grab em" tape comes out. Or earlier just for having several divorces and bankruptcies.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Leave it to Republicans to turn this into a double standard. Business turn away people for being gay, black, Hispanic, Muslim? "It's their right to refuse service to anyone!" Turn away Sarah Huckabee Sanders for working for Trump? "They had no right to refuse service to someone just because they work for President Trump!"

Since Ken allows for openness and honesty on his blog, I'm just going to come out with it. M*A*S*H has been my favorite show for thirteen years, and I've watched it religious all this time: I almost can't go a day without it. Over the years, I've noted how many people today mention how "dated" the show is in the ways they've tackled certain subjects like homophobia and sexism, thus making moments like that come across as awkward and clumsy today. Unfortunately, in today's climate, those episodes dealing with those subject matters are relevant all over again. "George," with the gay soldier whom Frank wanted dishonorably discharged? Trump tried re-instating such a ban in the military again - especially against transgendered soldiers (Klinger, sadly, was turned into a meme because of it). "Inga," with Hawkeye and Charles having their male egos bruised over the titular lady doctor showing them up in surgery? Many a Trump supporter seems to think we need to go back to lowering women to second-class citizens whose sole purpose is to serve the men in their lives. Oh, and you know what? Frank is suddenly a genuinely frightening and scary character now: he practically embodies the average Trump supporter, and in fact, when you watch and listen to him, it goes to show you how the political rightwing party hasn't changed a bit, and supports the remark that I once heard someone make that is liberalism is a "mental disorder" (as the right says), then conservatism is a "developmental disorder."

Cap'n Bob said...

Sanders is not an elected official. She doesn't vote on bills or make policy. It avails people naught to confront her in public except to make headlines and demonstrate the intolerance of the left.

And if she exists in a bubble, what's she doing in a public restaurant?

Ken Levine said...

You guys have named a number of my favorite radio play-by-play guys.

Howie Rose & Josh Lewin of the Mets are fantastic! So is Jon Miller & Dave Flemming of the Giants, Pat Hughes of the Cubs, Tom Hamilton of the Indians, Jim Powell of the Braves, Eric Nadel of the Rangers, Ted Leitner of the Padres, Marty Brenneman of the Reds, and Dave Wills & Andy Freed of the Rays. And OF COURSE, the incomparable Bob Uecker of the Brewers who is nothing short of a national treasure.

Rocko said...

Ken, did you see Nancy Travis on "The Ranch" ? Couple of nice scene with Deborah Winger.

Pamela Atherton said...

You're not serious! A womam who is already dealing with a variety of emotions, is most probably frightened, and is having an angry mob yell at her and confront her while she is about to have a very personal, private and intimate procedure ... That's not as bad as getting in your face at a grocery store or restaurant? I respectfully beg to differ.

Andrew said...

@Pamela Atherton: I am against both (in-your-face clinic protesters and people confronting public servants in their non-work lives). I prefer peace, not conflict. But those on this blog who act like the treatment of Sanders is a good and necessary thing, should realize that it's a dangerous road to go down, because the other side can harass people too. And I see a propensity to violence far more on the left than I do on the right these days.

MikeKPa. said...

If she's even distantly related to the Colonel, shouldn't she be eating at KFC?

cadavra said...

Am I the only one who remembers back in 2004 when a priest refused to give John Kerry communion because he (Kerry) was pro-choice? The right wing hailed him (the priest) as a hero.

Sorry, respect is a two-way street.

Aaron Sheckley said...

I don't think it's possible for me to hate Trump and his administration more than I currently do (but hey, by next week, I'm sure something will happen that'll turn the dial up to eleven). That being said, if you're okay with restaurants refusing service to someone because the owner doesn't agree with the customer's political position, then you have to be okay with ALL of it, not just when it favors your side. If you think it's awesome that Sanders was refused service, then you better be okay when a pro-choice person is refused service at a restaurant run by a pro-lifer, or a Second Amendment supporter is refused service, or an LGBTQ activist is asked to leave. "Whataboutism" is the last gasp of an incompetent argument, because it means that you're perfectly willing to overlook the flaws of your own side because the other side did it too. Turning these type of incidents into a Right or Left issue is pointless, because it's far too easy to find examples of both sides engaging in it. We'd be better off holding our own side accountable (and at this moment, that means Republicans, because they're in charge), rather than trying to hold the other side up as an example of bad behavior.