Jewish World Review May 10, 2002/ 28 Iyar 5762


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Clinton for an Emmy! | On my honor, I will tell the truth: How fantastic would it be if Bill Clinton eventually did succumb to vanity and bucks and hosted a talk show?

After a week of feverish speculation from the media on the subject-far more sexy than the fraudulent Arab claim of a massacre in Jenin-Clinton's handlers nixed the idea for a full-bore Oprah/Larry King/Aaron Brown horn-in, but didn't deny that the painfully shy ex-president might be enticed into some sort of "town meeting" format for tv or radio. That's a start; because after the initial high ratings tank, when Clinton causes viewers to nod off with his patter about the vagaries of economic policy in Peru, he'd wander off the reservation and fall back on the good stuff like "feelings," self-empowerment and Sports Ilustrated's swimsuit issue. Why, he might even sign off each day or night-Dan Rather-like-with a motto from his personal reverend, Jesse Jackson, like the classic, "G-d didn't create no junk."

Last Friday The Washington Post ran a nasty editorial on the subject, headlined "The Next Oprah?" I'll ignore for now the Post's shameful behavior during Clinton's impeachment proceedings and dwell on a rare positive from that paper's editorial page. The writer conceded that ex-presidents-busybody Jimmy Carter comes to mind-no longer follow Harry Truman's example of going home and playing bridge once their term has expired, but I agree (I'm reading between the lines here) that Clinton's post-presidency is setting new records for avarice, sanctimony and seamy plays for attention.

One snippet: "At first the news seems ludicrous-you ask yourself, is this, even this, possible?-and then you think, yes, G-d help us, of course it is. Not only possible but inevitable. This, after all, is the man who turned all of American politics into a talk show, with his trademark town meetings, his fervid emoting, his scandals, his denials, his tears, the lower lip... As for real guests, what a range he could command. Kathleen Willey! Yasser Arafat! He could get Al Gore on; they could make up; cry; have a no-holds-barred discussion about male grooming and, if there was time left, the 2004 ticket."

But also on May 3, The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan made the best argument about why Clinton's entry into gutter TV journalism will never happen. One reason: Hillary won't let him.

JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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© 2002, Russ Smith