Peter Applebome, New York Times reporter and writer of the paper's"Our Towns" column, talked with residents of Chappaqua, New York pondering if they will be lucky enough to have Bill and Hillary Clinton as "‘Great Neighbors,’ but for How Long?" (Applebome also lives in Chappaqua, according to his New York Times bio.) It's an extremely homey, gushing story about two Democratic politicians, especially a power couple extremely infleuntial in national politics.
It might be assumed that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has more pressing items on her to-do list than making it each year to the local Memorial Day Parade.
But, sure enough, there was Mrs. Clinton in a tan suit and jaunty straw hat marching down King Street on Monday with the local office holders, as her husband, the former president, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who lives in neighboring Mount Kisco, trailed a bit behind.
“I put this on my calendar every year, and I basically tell my staff I really, really, really want to do this,” Mrs. Clinton said on Monday. “So unless there’s some crisis of significant proportions, I’ll be here, and I’ve had a few crises where I’ve had to take phone calls as I’ve marched. Next week I’m going to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, but I said, ‘That is going to happen after Memorial Day, no matter what.’ ”
Given Mrs. Clinton’s statements that she will step down next year whether or not President Obama is re-elected, there is inevitable speculation about where the Clintons will spend their time in their next phase. But despite grueling travel schedules and being around less often than in the past, they have become remarkably involved with Chappaqua and its residents in a way that almost no one could have anticipated.
He orders a decaf venti at Starbucks (and always tips) and stops in at Lange’s Little Store and Delicatessen and chats with everyone there. When Mrs. Clinton is around, they go to movies at the Jacob Burns Film Center in neighboring Pleasantville and are reliable diners at local restaurants like Le Jardin du Roi, Crabtree’s Kittle House and the Chappaqua Restaurant and Cafe, where they were mortified a month ago when a customer picked up their check.
“Every person to the person who has met them will say how warm and welcoming and lovely and genuinely interested in other people they have been,” said Kendall Callahan, who just opened what she calls an interactive health bar called Kendall’s Om Kitchen next to Santa’s Salon. “They’re around town,” she added. “They support local merchants. They’ve been great neighbors.”
The inevitable signed photographs documenting a Clinton visit -- at Hilltop Wines and Spirits, at Town and Country Cleaners -- are the least of it, though the photo of Mr. Clinton with the entire kitchen staff at the Kabab Station was a big enough hit that many of the workers immediately got on their cellphones and called India.
The encomiums just kept rolling in:
Almost everyone in town has a favorite encounter -- perhaps the Clintons’ appearance at High Holy Day services at Temple Beth El one year, or Mr. Clinton’s impromptu tutorial on World War I flu deaths at an earlier Memorial Day Parade.
Susan Carpenter, the town supervisor, said she was amazed by Mr. Clinton’s awareness of specific efforts to bring in new businesses and by his interest in helping. She got the impression, she said, that he must be watching local cable access television of town board meetings.
Applebome is not so fond of some Republicans. From a June 14, 2010 column: "Last week's primaries were a great moment for women in American politics, an inspiring reminder that women are just as able as men to buy elections with big bucks, get nominated while fending off allegations of marital infidelity, say unfortunate things into a live microphone while in a Type A BlackBerry trance and win while espousing far-right, far-out ideas."