Here comes news from John Ibbitson writing in Toronto's Globe and Mail that 42 (Bill) and 43 ("W") will share a stage May 29 in Toronto for what's being billed as a moderated "conversation."
Although fees were not disclosed, the two former presidents -- both represented by lecture agents; Bush by Washington Speakers Bureau and Clinton by the Harry Walker Agency -- will surely be well paid. (Clinton's fees, which the law required him to reveal when his wife was Senator from New York, showed that Canada has been generous. As I wrote in my book on Clinton's post presidency, Clinton in Exile, Bill was paid $650,000 for two speeches in June 2005 -- one day in Toronto and the next in Calgary. Before the speech in Calgary Clinton gave another in Toronto for an additional 125,000.
There is no pretext this time of helping anyone but themselves -- a change from the days after Bill left the White House but before Hillary started to run for the nomination when "W" dispatched his father and his predecessor to work in tandem for the world's good.
In the heyday of their unlikely friendship -- dubbed "the odd couple," by former First Lady Barbara Bush -- 41 and 42 were a traveling call to help the world's stricken. When the tsunami hit parts of Asia and Africa in December 2004, President "W" asked his father and Bill Clinton to travel to the stricken region and bring relief and hope to the victims. They raised a record-breaking $1.2 billion in relief funds.
Last May, while Hillary and Obama were still battling for the nomination, I asked, in a post on Huffington, where were 41 and 42 after the cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in China.
I knew that 2004 would not be repeated in 2008, given Hillary's standard stump line -- "It takes a Clinton to clean up after a Bush" -- and her promise that when President she would send 41 and 42 abroad as envoys to fix the relationships with foreign leaders that, she charged, 43 had ruined. (It took mere minutes for 41 to respond through a spokesman; forget it. He professed nothing but pride in his son's accomplishments in the foreign policy arena.)
Friends report that 41 and 42 still think fondly of each other, but the frequent appearances and even a joint commencement address (at Tulane in 2006, the first post-Katrina commencement) seem to be history.
It will be interesting to see if President Obama finds a way to dispatch this duo of aging Baby Boomers on a mission or two that will fill their time with something beyond lining their pockets.