- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2001

"Up there", Irving stretched out his arm, raising all five- foot-one of himself on his toes and pointing with his finger to some spot vaguely between last year's calendar and the sign that said "Send a Salami to a Boy in the Army."
"It's just like that with Clinton." The assorted wise men sitting around the corner table looked at each other in varying degrees of puzzlement. Usually, no one would interrupt Irving. For one, he owned the delicatessen. For another, he made the table available each morning to the usual group who had the time, inclination and lack of anything better to do, to solve the problems facing Western civilization.
Benny, the retired furrier, had had enough and finally spoke up. "Irving, you've been having too many one-way conversations with the pastrami. What does Clinton coming to New York have to do with 'up there'?"
"Dummy, 'up there' in the Adirondacks is where the Hudson River starts a little stream, and then it ends up in New York City. Everything ends up in New York City. The pollution, the garbage the bass with the mercury everything. So it's only natural that Clinton ends up here too."
Irving may have hit upon something. While New York has, of course, been a refuge for the oppressed, the exiled and those seeking sanctuary and freedom, it has also given a warm welcome to the outrageous villains, bums, fakers and two-bit dictators.
In September 1960 when Fidel Castro made his first visit to New York to attend a U.N. meeting, he was asked to put up a $10,000 bond by the Shelbourne Hotel. This was to ensure the hotel would be paid for any damage done by his delegation. Indignant, he and his entourage of 90, together with 500 pieces of luggage, chickens and produce, moved to the Hotel Theresa in Harlem. There he received a thunderous reception. Forgotten were the political imprisonments, suppressions of free speech, victimizations of gay people, and his hijacking of the civil rights of an entire country, as the local celebrities paid tribute to him.
Klaus von Bulow would get a better seat in a fancy New York restaurant than we would; John Gotti would be sent drinks on the house, and Dutch Schultz would get the whole house. Exiles ranging from Paderewski, who set up shop on 57th Street "an improvement over the Polish winters" to the Shah of Iran, who left a trail of bodies and brought his cancer here to New York, to Al Gore, whom the country left behind, were all welcome. Imelda Marcos, intending to open up a chain of shoe repair parlors, was the darling of New York in social circles (Doris Duke even footed the bill for her defense lawyer, Gerry Spence). New York is the only city to run "If you are indicted, you are invited" parties.
New York has had a series of routinely elected mayors, some of whom have been incompetent, others lazy, others just plain stupid. In 1918 Mayor John Purroy Mitchel went up in an airplane, forgot to put a seat belt on, and when the plane did a loop, fell out at 500 feet without a parachute. In September 1932, Jimmy Walker resigned as mayor and, one step ahead of prosecutors, escaped to Europe with his girlfriend Betty Compton. In 1952, William O'Dwyer resigned the mayor's job, protected from ongoing investigations by President Truman who appointed him ambassador to Mexico. Predictably, he then suffered a heart attack because of a combination of the exertions of a new marriage to Sloan Simpson, a woman half his age, and the Mexican sun.
New York's last mayor didn't happen to have his television set turned on and was therefore the only person in the city who didn't know there was a race riot going on in Crown Heights.
Bill Clinton, trailing behind him the ghosts of the Monica Lewinsky, Jennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey, and Whitewater situations, together with his perjury, lie, and suspension from the practice of law, came uptown and was welcomed in Harlem like a rock star.
Blacks have been scammed, ripped-off, two-timed, hustled, lied to, flim-flammed, and double and triple talked more than any other race or ethnic group that has undertaken the American adventure. Because of this experience, black people usually have a pretty good radar system to detect when they are being conned. However, the system was not working too well when it came to Bill Clinton.
New Yorkers have put up with water that gave them parasites, holes in the roads that broke their axles, subways that were often trips to nowhere, and a murder rate that rivaled Beirut in a bad year.
Spewers of invective, intolerance, scatology, hate and anger in varying degrees, from Louis Farrakhan, to Morton Downey Jr., and even the Ku Klux Klan, are received by New Yorkers as business as usual.
Historically, at least New York seems to be a comfortable place for Mr. Clinton to end up or at least to make a pit stop.

Jackie Mason is a comedian and Raoul Felder is a lawyer.


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