- - Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hillary Clinton is a private citizen now, but she still packs a lot of weight. She went to London the other day to pick up an award for her diplomatic accomplishments, arriving in an impressive five-car motorcade with nearly a dozen bodyguards. One of them eased her car, a big Mercedes “people carrier,” into a parking bay where parking costs about $5.25 an hour. That’s steep but barely painful for someone estimated to be worth $50 million in her own right.

But in her rush to be on time for the award she forgot to pay, and soon a traffic warden came by to put a ticket on the windshield. Out leaped several Secret Service agents, one flashing a badge and demanding to know whether the warden knew whose windshield he was abusing. Oblivious to the waving arms and the noise in his ear, he continued writing. Never in the field of parking conflict was so much being made by so many over so little.

Anyone who remembers Hillary’s history with the Secret Service detail wouldn’t be surprised. When she and Bubba were first in the White House she regarded the agents as “the help,” deserving no more respect than she might have given the yard man or the servants who cleaned up after her. She thought “her agents” should carry her suitcases, feed the cat and run errands. She blamed her detail for the stories that leaked to the newspapers that she threw lamps at poor Bubba, who was only trying to get out of range of her naughty mouth and her throwing arm. Who could blame the detail in London for dreading to tell her about a parking ticket?

The British are bemused (and sometimes annoyed) by the security that accompanies political celebrities from America. When they see a president’s entourage, often numbering more than three-dozen cars, trucks and motorcycles, racing through Piccadilly with bells ringing and whistles blowing, they know how the Germans felt when they saw the American armada approaching on D-Day.

Hillary’s parking ticket was big news for 24 hours in London. The British were, as always, polite about it. “For future reference,” a London traffic official said, “Mrs. Clinton can now download a parking app for her iPhone which will tell her in real time where a parking space is in the city.” And good manners will always be appreciated.