Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Inaugural Inaugurations

On the occasion of the anniversary of the 1993 inaugural—give or take a day, we are launching a new site as a companion to a book coming out in March. It's called “So Think you Can Be President” website to include a blog. Since half of the book belongs to me (the other to Clay Greager, not David) I thought I'd share this on our original blob. We hope each of these blogs will also provoke some controversy or, at the very least a few snickers and hopefully a couple of hearty laughs. We will, like most pundits, make predictions. And like most pundits we will probably be wrong – but isn’t that part of the fun. In addition, this blog will include timely questions such as:

You really want to win each primary contest. What do you think is the best way to do that? Choose from the following:
a. Assure the electorate that the little Baby Jesus has given you his endorsement
b. Assure the electorate that the little Baby Jesus will stay out of the campaign.
c. Make sure the little Baby Jesus you’re talking about is not an immigrant baby from Mexico.
d. Ask your spouse to take an active, vocal, even lethal, role by attacking your competition’s past record.
e. Make sure your spouse doesn’t have an active, vocal, lethal, past.
f. Send your spouse out to fund raise and avoid any hint of the public thinking, “sit down and shut up.”

Additionally, we will collect and include contemporary definitions of political terms such as this one anonymously distributed through e-mail:
Electile Dysfunction: the inability to become aroused over any of the choices for President put forth by either party in the 2008 election year.

Excited? Great, now on to the new-sy blog. But first a story. We will tell old political insider stories because this is a venue where people might enjoy them —rather than run screaming from the room.

On January of 1992, when most of the political elite (that’s Senior staff who, having won the election, finally felt powerful), were getting ready for the big inaugural parties, I still had other responsibilities. They both involved children. The first was walking in the inaugural parade, not as a participant, but as a mother watching to make sure my six year old (who was supposed to be nine), did not fall off the Raffi float. In 1992 Raffi, was the premiere children’s musical folk singer, you may remember he sang “Baby Beluga” and “Sun Sun Mr. Golden Sun Please Shine Down on Me”. (Don’t start to hum it because it will stay with you for 24 hours.) It was a cold day and the Raffi float was pretty near the end of the parade. While riding on a float might look glamorous, I can promise you, it is not. Sure the kids were excited and Jordan (my daughter) bonded with Raffi –to the point where a few months later when Raffi had an environmental meeting with Tipper Gore, he invited Jordan (then seven) to accompany him.

Anyway, we were in a confined area for five hours and there were no bathrooms. So despite the fact that the kids were freezing and hungry – we could not allow them to drink anything and besides, none of the parade organizers thought about feeding anyone. At the end of the parade, I grabbed Jordan wrapped her in a blanket and delivered the little ice cube home, chilled and happy. Since I had walked along side the float there was no need to listen to all the things that had happened to her (Raffi held her hand. people waved just to her), because I had to leave for the White House. Wow, the White house on Inaugural eve you are probably thinking. Not so fast!

For whatever reason, and the details of this are much too boring, while my friends were readying themselves for an Inaugural ball, I was at the White House packing goodie bags for Chelsea Clinton and her friends. And, the stuff inside the goodie bags did not magically appear. I had to ferry around Washington from store to store convincing shop owners that it was worth their while to donate things like kids make-up, games, films, candy, whatever it was that I thought a bunch of 13 year olds might like. I packed the bags, made sure the refreshments for the movie theater (yes, there is a movie theater in the White House), were in order and even did the decorations. All of this, I might add was a thankless job – 13 year olds are not big on thanks. I waited, as I had promised, for the kids to return until about 1:00am. But as was the case with some Clinton's, they were late, so I left.

Which brings us to years later when David, my husband and an excellent photojournalist, was covering Hillary and Chelsea was with the campaign. David introduced himself to Chelsea by saying that his wife had packed goodie bags for her and friends in 1992. Chelsea didn't seem to have any memories of that happy time,and later told another reporter that she doesn't talk to the press. I guess she was just doing as instructed but since I did work for the Clintons for years, and have known them since 1972, I thought that, as a very smart young woman, she might have used better judgment. She also denied a conversation to a nine year old reporter—so David was in good company.

Having worked with many family surrogates over the years I have pretty strong feelings about what kind of responsibilities family members should have during a campaign. And my feeling has always been, don’t put any family member (no matter the age) in a place where they are even the least bit uncomfortable. And in conclusion, Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chelsea Clinton, do you really think she cares about anyone who was her servant? Even a goody bag servant.

Does her mother really care about the people who are there to service her ambition to be president?

These people really don't care.

It's all about them, not us.

Bernie Boston cared.

m_harding said...

lets us know when the sites up Iris.

Bebe Bahnsen said...

"C" is the answer to the question. Thanks for a good laugh.
I don't know the Clintons, but I saw an article today that said Bill will campaign for the next few days with the "mostly mute" Chelsea. Looks like she started that habit early. Bebe