Washington Prowler

Bondsing With Clinton

An uninvited former president's pre-game warmup with baseball's leading man. Plus: Big Labor's circus Democrats.

By 8.15.03

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HOT CORNER
The San Francisco Giants were already uncomfortable on Tuesday night when former president Bill Clinton showed up at Shea Stadium wanting to meet Barry Bonds. Bonds is currently at war with the media over comments he made during the All Star break in which he claimed we would eclipse all memories of Babe Ruth. Initially, according to a member of the San Francisco Giants staff, Bonds did not want to meet with the uninvited former president, in part because it would open him up questions from the press. But Giants officials prevailed upon their star, and Bonds spent several minutes listening to Clinton prattle on about his apparently expansive knowledge of Giants baseball lore.

"His visit complicated things for us because they had to basically shut down the clubhouse, delaying our meals, and with the heat it was hot as hell in there," said a Giants beat reporter.

Clinton may have been working for the home team in that regard. The visitors' clubhouse at Shea Stadium has only one air conditioner: the relic brought over to Shea from the Giants' old stomping grounds before their escape to California, the Polo Grounds, which was torn down in the mid-1960s.

CIRCUS ANIMALS
It's remarkable what the Democratic presidential candidates will endure for an endorsement -- apparently ever sort of indignity. In order for Andy Stern's Service Employees International Union to make an endorsement, its boss has designed what has to be the most arduous process in organized labor history.

First, Stern asked all the candidates to agree to allow a young filmmaker to accompany all prospective candidates and film them unfettered for hours on end while on the road. Then, once the filming is completed, the filmmakers will produce an extended documentary in the hopes of revealing unguarded moments that will give union officials some insight into the men they may be supporting. After the world premiere of these films, the union will organize small to medium sized gatherings of between 100 and 500 union members and ask each candidate to attend one and spend between three and four hours socializing with these blue-collar folks. Stern apparently calls this "hang time" and believes that these socials will also give union members a true sense of the men who want their support. After all that, each candidate will again go through the normal debate and vetting process and attend various union functions hat in hand, groveling for an endorsement.

Under normal circumstances, Stern would not be able to require such a demanding process, but because Stern's union is now one of the key players in what could lead to a full endorsement by the AFL-CIO, top tier candidates like Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Dick Gephardt are prepared to jump through as many hoops as they have to to win the SEIU's support.

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