HUGH COMES THROUGH
If former President Bill Clinton was mad at his brother-in-law Hugh Rodham for his role in the pardons mess that roiled the Clinton White House in its final days, all seems to be forgiven now.
Clinton traveled to Florida late last week for a series of speeches and fundraisers, some of them “organized” by Rodham.
According to one current Clinton associate, Rodham was behind a gala event for a local Miami charity. Clinton agreed to attend, though he “was suspicious about it. Given everything he has been through with Hillary’s brother, the president just assumes there is an angle being played. It’s funny to hear him of all people saying that, since we all know he’s king of playing the angles. Those two deserve each other.”
One person Clinton wasn’t interested in seeing: his former attorney general Janet Reno. Clinton declined a request to fundraise for the current gubernatorial candidate, and lent his name to a DNC fundraiser instead. “Unless [DNC Chairman] Terry McAuliffe asks him to do it, he doesn’t want to do Reno any favors,” says the Clinton aide.
THE PERMANENT SCAMPAIGN
Clinton needs to do some fundraising of his own. Donations to his Little Rock-based presidential library were down long before 9/11 and practically dried up in the aftermath of the tragedies. So Clinton is sending off new letters to potential donors, promoting a “new” addition he’d like to add to the facility: a “School of Public Service.”
“He envisions it someday rivaling Georgetown’s school for international studies, and Harvard’s Kennedy School,” says a library donor, who declined Clinton’s latest request for more dough. “It’s absurd. This library is beginning to have the look and feel of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Heritage USA amusement park. Clinton’s always asking for money, always adding on some program or scam. I don’t believe any of it will become a reality.
“He says he wants this place to be for idealistic young people like he was. Who the hell wants more of him? And besides he says his school will study terrorism. What? So he can learn from his many mistakes? I don’t think so.”
President Bush called Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill on Thursday evening and thanked him for his service to his country and for serving as a “great secretary of the Treasury,” according to sources in the White House and Treasury Department. The impromptu pat on the back came in the aftermath of one of the more stunning exchanges in memory between a top administration official and a U.S. senator.
O’Neill appeared before the Senate Budget Committee on Thursday to discuss the new Bush budget. West Virginia Democrat Sen. Robert Byrd lit into him for his criticism of Senate rules limiting the number of amendments that can be tacked on to tax legislation, and other rules that constrain federal agencies from getting funds the administration deems necessary. Byrd told him “you’re not Alexander Hamilton” and excoriated him for having been a “CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation.” Byrd then asked O’Neill if he could recall any rules that limited human potential or were unjust. By now O’Neill was primed. In an unmistakable allusion to Byrd’s past membership in the Ku Klux Klan, he shot back: “Rules that said, ‘Coloreds cannot enter here.'”
Before they were finished, each described the humble circumstances in which they grew up, without running water or electricity (an exchange hilariously compared to a Monty Python skit by OpinionJournal.com’s “Best of the Web Today” last Friday.) At one point, O’Neill appeared to be in tears.
“President Bush felt O’Neill went above and beyond the call,” says a Bush aide who works on Treasury issues. “He told us he would have stalked out of the room had Byrd done that to him. He just wanted O’Neill to know he was proud of him. It’s the kind of thing Bush does.”