THE SPINE FEBRUARY 23, 2007
I came down with Clinton fatigue somewhere near the end of the first
term. I don't mean to one-up my friend David Geffen in this. He is
not as temperamentally judgmental as I am, and--after all--he did have
a more intimate station from which to view Bill and Hillary. If you're
close to the first family when it is in the White House you are bound
to a certain discretion. But, as someone once said, intimacy breeds
contempt ... so, it follows, that longer-time intimacy breeds greater
contempt. And you cannot be bound to silence forever.
The fact is that I met Clinton maybe three or four times, perhaps five,
and his Mrs. but once, for at most thirty seconds, the circumstances of
which I don't want to tell because it would embarrass another
uninvolved person. Wait for my memoirs.
We're fortunate that Geffen did not wait for his. What he said to
Maureen Dowd was on almost everybody's mind, even on the minds of those
who out of habit or delight with the glitz just naturally found themselves in whoever's dining room was raising cash for Hillary. The
fact is that the Clintons are all about money. There's a truly
shocking story in this morning's Washington Post about how Bill earned
$40 million in the last four years just in speaking fees. A lot of
this was Arab money, which doesn't mean he doesn't love his rich Jews
(he must) ... or Israel, for that matter. It tells you just how easy it
is for him to fake his affections. Or to carry two loves in his breast at the same time.
All about money. Imagine if you are a friend of the Clintons. First
of all you are rich, very rich. Simply because they don't have friends
other than ones with spare and bigger than big amounts of cash. Here
are the purposes for which you have been asked contributions: twice for
Bill Clinton for President (and all of the skeletal extensions of the
local and national Democratic Party), the 727s, the White House
refurbishing fund, the Clinton Defense Fund, the Clinton Library, twice
for Hillary for Senate, annual contributions to the Clinton Global
Initiative, each of his and her birthdays. Was there a Chappaqua
remodeling project? If you have a private jet you'd have been expected
to hand it over for a day, a weekend. If you have a house in Martha's
Vineyard or in East Hampton or in Aspen or in Palm Springs, why don't
you visit your in-laws? And it isn't as if the Clintons are asking you
directly. Some underling is doing it, and you're afraid to say "no."
Or even "boo." $1 million here, $1 million there. Pretty soon, it's a heck of a lot of money. You could have named a building at your alma mater after yourself with that money.
I happen not to agree with David Geffen about a pardon for Leonard
Peltier, the Native American who has been in jail for decades after
having been convicted of killing two FBI men. Look him up on Google,
and judge for yourself. But David is certainly correct to call our
attention to the Clintons' last act of presidential hautuer, and that
is the pardons Bill and Hillary gave in the 24 hours before leaving
office. First of all, there was the case of Marc Rich, zillionaire oil
trader and tax felon whose ex-wife was a huge contributor to Clinton
causes and one of Hillary's best pals. Rich also was living in Zug, Switzerland because he
couldn't come in to the US without fear of being arrested. Now he
can. Then there were the cases related to Hillary's brothers as
lawyers and advocates. And the pardoning of Bill's brother. And on
and on. Go to Google again, and type in "presidential pardons," "bill
clinton," and "hillary clinton." You will be basting yourself in hog
water. These are tell-tale enormities, more than 140 of them. Yuk.
I believe that deep-down the country agrees with Geffen. It does not
want to relive the Clinton years. It was a tacky presidency, and the
president's tackiness kept us from facing many dangers--including the
perils of Muslim terrorism.
On Hollywood and politics: I don't really care that George Clooney is
supporting Barack Obama. I'd actually prefer if he weren't. But it's
a free country. Clooney can give Obama whatever money he wants. And
Jane Fonda can give whatever money she wants to Hillary. But Hillary
might want to ask herself why this pathological extremist finds her so supportable.
Now, the Clinton campaign has tried to make Geffen's smart and
responsible words a burden for Barack Obama. It is a desperate ploy.
Think of the very gall--the colossal gall--Clinton and her
campaign show when they demand that Obama return the money that Geffen
raised for him. Obama handled this ugly provocation with the elegance
and restraint that seem to mark his character. I'm ready to send him a check, and I will.