Jewish World Review August 16, 2000/ 15 Menachem-Av, 5760
to California's cash
He was, as they say in that place called Hope, pure-D ol' Bill Clinton.
He spent a month in Los Angeles over the weekend, doing what the Clintons do best, soaking up all the available oxygen, attention and most important of all, all the loose cash.
He played show-biz celebrity in a town where show-biz celebrities are as common as cockroaches, leaving closed-off streets and traffic gridlock (and hundreds and maybe thousands of frustrated Angelenos) in his wake.
He paid Al Gore tribute in language short enough of purple to avoid being fulsome, but not so passionate as to take anything away from an occasion he clearly regarded as a celebration of himself.
"I want to tell you a few things I know about Al Gore," he said, and proceeded to name three, more or less. "We've worked closely together for eight years now, and in the most difficult days of the last years, when we faced the toughest issues of war and peace, of taking on powerful special interests, he was always there."
That was one thing. By "taking on powerful special interests," we can assume that he meant that Al was always ready to take down their pants, speaking of the special moneyed interests, and shake out all the loose change. Not a nice way to treat a Buddhist nun, but somebody had to do it.
"More than anybody else I've ever known in public life, Al Gore understands the future and how sweeping changes can affect American daily lives."
That was the second thing, vague as it was, though the president might have been referring to Al's invention of the Internet. Then the president got to the point of his tribute, his expectation that Al and Joe Lieberman would keep the Clinton administration intact, and he set out the usual laundry list of all the things he hasn't been able to do but would have but for the Republican meanies in Congress: paying down the debt, establishing a vast new expansion of the education and health-care bureaucracies and putting something aside "in case the projected surpluses don't come in."
This was pretty much what Al got in return for calling the president, after Monica Lewinsky defined the Clinton legacy, as "one of our greatest presidents." Al got a little confirmation of the boast, heretofore widely laughed at even by Democrats, from John Travolta. Mr. Travolta was one of the guests at Barbra Streisand's party to pluck Hollywood billionaires to pay for the Clinton library that Little Rock seems not to want.
Perhaps caught up in the Saturday-night fever of a party with a $100,000 minimum (and a $25,000 cover charge), Mr. Travolta raised his glass not merely to a president in the class with Adams, Madison, Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR, as in Al's boast, but "to the greatest president of all time." It was something of a family night, since a lot of the rich old guys were there with what seemed to be their daughters, even granddaughters. (You see a lot of this phenomenon in Los Angeles.)
The president seemed pleased with Joe Lieberman's sex-change operation, completed over the weekend, transforming him from man of conviction to reliable toady who told television interviewers on Sunday that he had had "internal debates" with the vice president and he was happy with the new, softer convictions installed, like new software, by Al.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Clinton, eager to help, revised Joe's history: "The whole record here has been obscured," the president said. "Joe Lieberman was the first Democrat [to criticize me for the Monica Lewinsky scandal], but he didn't say anything different than Al Gore said. He certainly didn't say anything different than what I had said contemporaneously."
Perhaps the air conditioning was not working well in the president's limo, because the heat seemed to have rattled his memory of what Joe had said about him in that remarkable speech to the Senate last September when Joe was still proudly his own man. He called him "dishonest" and "immoral," which Al never did and which the president went to very expensive lengths — a lot of women could testify to this — to avoid saying.
But summertime is revival time, as both Bill and Al well
know, and this summer in Los Angeles it's revival with the
Scripture mangled and without repentance. This was a stop
on what we can expect to be an endless farewell tour, but the
president's big Los Angeles adventure was mostly about
bringing in the sheaves — and taking them
08/09/00: Innocence by proxy is a risky scheme