President of the One-Liners

  • Capital Connections ®
  • |
  • April 12, 2000

by Karen Feld

The real question around the Nation’s Capital this week: Will Leo Di Caprio’s “talk” with President Clinton ever see the light of day or prime time? Some criticized the Chief Executive when he joked about “Leogate” at the annual Radio & Television Correspondents’ dinner the other evening. He said: “ABC doesn’t know if I had an interview, a walk-through, or a drive-by . . . it’s a little like rearranging the deck chairs on the set of ‘This Week With Sam and Cokie.'” But the one-liners didn’t stop there. On the subject of Hillary, the President quipped: “I don’t want to be a member of the Senate spouses club; I want to be President of the Senate spouses club.” On the census, which many feel is too intrusive: “You should see the questions those guys sent me. . .” And he couldn’t leave his Vice President off limits: “When I met with the Buddhists, it cost me millions; when Al meets with Buddhists, he turns a tidy profit.” And on Elian: “He’s the one immigrant Pat Buchanan wants to keep in America.”

Most guests at the Kennedy Center’s Spring Gala last weekend agreed with New Yorker Paolo Martino’s statement: “It’s fun to be on stage.” The cocktail reception was held on the actual stage of the Opera House — apropos since the evening saluted musical theater. Broadway Tony-winner, Bebe Neuwirth, along with Dionne Warwick, Harolyn Blackwell, and D.C. opera diva, Denyce Graves, performed to help raise $2 million to benefit the Kennedy Center’s artistic, education, and community outreach programs. But it was Neuwirth’s canoodling with former Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos that captured the glare of the spotlight and fellow guests. What’s up with this so-called romance?

As the battle over six-year-old Elian Gonzalez’s fate continues, the D.C. arrival of his dad, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, created a lot of hoopla. But the real hero in this mix is attorney Greg Craig, who Fidel Castro retained to represent Elian’s dad. Craig is no stranger to high-profile political shenanigans — he represented President Clinton during Monicagate and Lt. Col. Ollie North during Iran Contra. Could the powerbroker’s efforts be the beginning of normalization of relations between U.S. and Cuba? Wouldn’t surprise me.

During a recent trip to Cuba, I interviewed Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon, who at the suggestion that both Elian and the embargo are being used as “red herrings,” said: “The business community is in favor of change. . . We are prepared to have normalization of relations with the U.S. only with full equality of rights on both sides. . . My greatest expectation is to reach that moment when we don’t have that embargo. I don’t say everything here is perfect but when you remove the embargo factor it would be easier to see our own problems. I have proposed to lift the embargo for one year and take away our excuse and see what happens.”

Democrat insiders say that African-American activists are unhappy that Al Gore is seriously considering selecting Energy Secretary Bill Richardson as his runningmate. He needs the Hispanic vote but the Blacks wonder why they may be passed over for this possible historic first – a person-of-color sharing the presidential ticket of a major political party.

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