President Clinton’s final State of the Union speech wasn’t a sold out event this year. All of the Supreme Court Justices, most of the Diplomatic corp, and many GOP House Members were noticeably absent. But one absentee, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, was designated by the President to stay away. He had full Secret Service protection during the time the President and Vice President were in the Capitol. That’s because one Cabinet Secretary needs to survive to run the country incase of an unlikely disaster in the U.S. Capitol that evening. A handful of southern Democratic congressman took bags of potato chips and other markers to the House Chamber as early as 10:30 on the morning of the speech to hold aisle seats where their constituents could watch them shake Mr. Clinton’s hand on C-Span. And if you’re wondering why President Clinton praised Al Gore so favorably, it may have something to do with the fact that Gore campaign advisor Bob Shrum was a key speechwriter that evening. President Clinton not only hit a home run with daughter Chelsea, who attended the big event, but also with baseball fans everywhere with his invitation to Hank Aaron who sat next to The First Lady.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R) let his Mississippi ire show – at least behind the curtains – and it just wasn’t in response to the President’ s proposals. It seems that the networks nixed his idea of having Senator Bill Frist (R) give the Republican Response to the State of the Union from a hospital in his home state of Tennessee. Expense was the key “official” reason for the location denial, but it is also felt that Frist, who is a transplant surgeon and campaigning to be re-elected this year, would be given an unfair advantage if allowed to give the national speech from the medical venue.
Out of sight, out of mind? Could it be that President Clinton was almost forgotten at the annual Alfalfa Club powerfest, Saturday evening? The President, traditionally the subject of the roast, was in Switzerland at an economic conference and was not even the brunt of many jokes. Al Gore’s alpha maleness, John McCain’s temper, George “W”‘s smarts, Steve Forbes’ money, and Donald Trump’s women were this year’s targets. None of the candidates broke away from the campaign trail to attend, although Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) quipped: “We have the best part of Steve Forbes here. We have his check.” World Bank President James Wolfensohn on Donald Trump: “What a man does in his bedroom is between himself and his supermodel.” You get the idea. . . the “old boys” club. . . which now has a few women on the list. . . got its name from the alfalfa plant whose roots will do anything for a drink, and has no purpose except this annual A-list dinner. Among the guests: former President and Mrs. George Bush, Gen. Colin Powell, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.
Speaking of power, soon you’ll even be able to smell it! Washington powerbroker and jewelry designer, Ann Hand, has plans to introduce a new scent called “Power” in the spring. Hand describes the new fragrance as “romantic but subtle as real power is.” Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright are customers of Hand’s collection and surely part of the inspiration. It’s certain to be the perfume du jour for Hillary boosters on the campaign trail in New York.
Speaking of New York, TV producer Harry Thomasson, who created “The Man From Hope” campaign film for President Clinton, is directing campaign spots for The First Lady’s New York race. Some of the spots feature First Mother-in-Law, Dorothy Rodham (Hillary’s mum). If Hillary doesn’t win the Senate seat, the President better look over his shoulder on his rumored post-Presidency Hollywood yearnings – one insider told us that Mrs. Clinton took over and directed her Mom’s every word.