By Hannah Reich Berman

 “Play it again, Sam” is a quote often attributed to the 1942 film Casablanca that starred Humphrey Bogart. As it happens, Bogart never uttered those words in the film, nor did anyone else, for that matter. Nevertheless, people occasionally use the phrase and most folks think it comes from the movie. And every now and then, doing something over again turns out to be a good thing.

In 1995, O.J. Simpson went to trial for the 1994 murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. After a lengthy and highly publicized trial, and much to the chagrin of the public, Simpson was acquitted. He went free. And neither he nor the police ever bothered to look for the murderer. Why would they? They already knew who did it. When the verdict was announced, people were more than simply astonished; many felt physically ill. The football hero had gotten away with murder.

But it was not over–not entirely. Not long after the criminal trial, the Goldman family sued Simpson in civil court. The verdict was unanimous; O.J. was found liable in the slayings and ordered to pay $25 million to the families of both of his victims. Not surprisingly, he managed to hide his assets and very little was ever paid. Until today, interest continues to accrue.

But it still was not over. Play it again, Sam. Some people cannot stay out of trouble. In 2007, Simpson and some pals, carrying weapons, broke into a Nevada hotel room to retrieve some valuable sports memorabilia that Simpson claimed had been stolen from him. Ten charges were leveled against him and our hero was found guilty of all ten. Among the charges were kidnapping and armed robbery. O.J. was sentenced to 33 years in prison, where he remains until today.

Recently, another verdict was handed down that both sickened and enraged people. Hillary Clinton was investigated by the FBI. After a lengthy investigation, FBI director James Comey, whom many refer to as a “straight arrow” and a man who is above reproach, delivered a decision. He said that the Bureau would not recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified documents and sensitive information, which she transmitted through a private e‑mail server during her time as Secretary of State.

Had Comey made just this simple statement, his announcement would not have generated the level of astonishment that it did. But he said much more. He spoke of her carelessness and her disregard for the rules. He said she should have known better. He said a lot of things. But the most important words were the ones he used to inform us of his decision that she not be charged and prosecuted. Once again, there was astonishment and outrage.

Two days after his announcement, Comey voluntarily appeared before Congress, where he endured withering questions for several hours. The questions and commentary were accompanied by obvious anger and disbelief. To further aggravate the public, the answers that he gave to many of the queries were a clear indication that Hillary had been lying to the public about the e‑mails every time she opened her mouth. Comey acknowledged the very real possibility that her e‑mails may have been hacked and that classified information may have fallen into enemy hands. It does not get much worse than that. So it seems that Mr. Comey’s straight-arrow persona may be slightly bent. He might be honest, but his decisions leave something to be desired, and an obviously guilty Hillary, like O.J. before her, got off . . . this time.

But it is not over. Play it again, Sam, as they say. Hillary Clinton may or may not be our next president, but becoming president might not save her. She will continue to lie because that is who she is. She will continue to make poor decisions because that is what she does. Clearly she feels that rules are meant for everybody else–but not for her.

Her violent temper and her mistreatment of underlings, including members of her own personal staff, are legendary. George Stephanopoulos, formerly one of Bill Clinton’s most trusted aides in the White House, has weighed in on her behavior. Secret Service agents have told of her screaming, cursing, and throwing things. This is her nature. And she can no more change than O.J. could.

So if there is a “Sam” and if he is around, we can only say “Play it again.” Possibly, one day in the not-too-distant future, Clinton will once again get into trouble. Right now, she and her husband are in the same league with John Gotti, a.k.a. the Teflon Don. Hillary has weathered numerous scandals but remains untouched. But O.J. Simpson figured that since he had gotten away with murder, he would get away with armed robbery. As we know, that was not to be. And like O.J., Hillary may one day find herself in the hot seat–and that time she will not get out of it. One can only hope!

What a choice we Americans have, come November. We can vote for a pathological liar who has a violent temper and poor decision-making skills, or we can vote for Donald Trump, a narcissist who appears to have a case of severely arrested emotional development. The man often sounds like a fifth-grade bully in the schoolyard. At his most recent rally, he shouted, “Hillary is a liar; she is a dirty rotten liar!” What presidential candidate speaks like that? What adult speaks like that?

But as of this moment, these are our choices. That’s the way it is. v

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mah-jongg and canasta. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.


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