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A Night Out With the Clintons and Their Brain Trust

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

WASHINGTON -- It is the end of the year 2014 and the beginning of 2015. Perhaps it is an appropriate time to think about what we are to be confronted with in the presidential year 2016. Ever since the autumn electoral rout of the Democrats, we have been confronted by news stories of the looming presidential prospects of Hillary Rodham Clinton and hints about the rise of the presidential prospects of Elizabeth Warren. Only rarely is there a news story about the presidential prospects of the Republicans, though I count more than 25 possible Republican candidates. On the Democrats side we only hear of two, Clinton and Warren.


Well, those are the kinds of media we have in the land of the free. They amount to a media almost wholly stocked by Democratic operatives. So we shall be hearing about first Hillary and then Elizabeth for months to come. Yet let me tell you at the outset of the new year: Hillary's chances to return to the White House are by my lights negligible, and Elizabeth's chances for the White House are not much better. Machiavelli said that if you wanted to know something about the qualities of a prince study his -- or in this case her -- lieutenants. Or closer to our era there is the observation of John F. Kennedy. He said of President Dwight Eisenhower, he surrounded himself with rich men and golfers. What kind of people do the Clintons surround themselves with?

Actually, I have had some personal experience with the Clintons' entourage, and it was not very edifying. It was, however, very amusing. The occasion was a gala celebration of Bill's 60th birthday back in 2006 with Hillary in attendance. I say "a gala celebration," because there were many. The celebrations went on for months. This time the Clintons celebrated in Toronto, and I was there, not as a guest but as a birthday party gatecrasher. I have written about it in my 2007 book, "The Clinton Crack-Up." If you would like to know about the quality of mind that surrounds the Clintons, that book is a pretty good place to start.

The venue was the posh Royal York Hotel and "the stars" were there: the emcee, Kevin Spacey, the comic genius, Billy Crystal, and the orchestra leader, Paul Shaffer from "The Late Show with David Letterman;" also the singers Jon Bon Jovi, Tim McGraw, James Taylor and many more. There were hundreds of rich Canadian donors, and the Clintons brought their traveling brain trust: Bill's chief of staff, Doug Band, Ahmed Khan, whose card merely read "Office of William J. Clinton" (I surmised that he was Bill's bagman), and another very well connected guy, the owner of the Nobu chain of high-toned restaurants plus his pretty wife, a television personality from Ireland.


We found ourselves rubbing elbows with the stars in a VIP room and when the dinner began we were seated with some of them and the Clintons' brain trust. A few asked where I came from. "Washington," I answered and that seemed to suffice until the Irish lady seated on my left ventured further: "What do you do in Washington?" Well by now I had been bathed in "the stars'" balderdash for over an hour. There were the adulatory toasts. There was Bill's rodomontade, addressing all his achievements in office and in life. There were still more testimonials, for instance, Spacey's claim that Bill was "the last elected president of the United States." When the Irish lady proceeded to ask me, "What have you written that I might have heard of?" I could not restrain myself. I answered, "Finnegans Wake." "Oh," she enthused to the whole table of geniuses, "he wrote 'Finnegans Wake.'" The guy from Nobu was particularly impressed. Doug Band was, too, and Amed Khan, also. I never asked if they really thought I might be James Joyce and had reached by 2006 the advanced age of 124. Perhaps they thought I had had a very good facelift, even better than Hillary's.

No, I am afraid that the Clintons surround themselves with exceedingly silly people. Most likely Elizabeth Warren does as well. People who might think the author of "Finnegans Wake" would join them one night in laudations to Bill, called that night in Toronto "the most famous man in the world." I do not doubt that Warren, the repository she has claimed of Native-American blood, might someday host a dinner for Sitting Bull. It is increasingly obvious that the Democrats' leading figures are phonies surrounded by not very bright phonies. This coming year, we shall hear much about the transcendent qualities of Hillary and perhaps Elizabeth. Then, in 2016, we shall get down to electing a president, a Republican president to complete the 2014 Republican sweep of the House and the Senate.


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