Of all the book fairs, in all the beach towns in all the world, she sashays into mine. Wellfleet, Provincetown, Nantucket, East Hampton, La Jolla --no! Martha's vineyard. I had the audacious hope that she'd take her campaign safari some place that's "too close to call" -- like Missouri or New Mexico. No luck. So on top of Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Ferguson and god knows what next, I'm dragged into a hug reconciliation with Hillary.
Still can't figure out why she did that loony interview with Jeff Goldberg in the Atlantic. Book sales disappointing? Bill cutting up? Eying the "kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out" vote? Getting antsy about finally putting her posterior on the throne? Maybe she's obedient to the categorical imperative that if "You stop campaigning, you die. You stop talking, the dynasty dies."
As Michelle keeps reminding me, I saved her in 2008, when her career was on a trajectory to oblivion, by making her Secretary of State. Except for that, she'd have been keeping company with John Edwards and Joe Lieberman mixed in with a few ego energizing feminist gigs -- at half the rate Bill commands. I thought that she would deflect some of the flack I was sure to get from the liberals when they found out that my thinking on national security was Bush Lite. A black man and a woman make a terrific shield. Admittedly, it was a risky thing to do: Hillary's foreign policy credentials were as thin as mine. Then she goes ahead and appoints a bunch of novices when what we needed was some professional experience. The standard got so low that they began holding limbo contests in the State courtyard at noon.
For four years, she flies around the world almost non-stop, 112 countries -- touching down only to refuel and do self-serving interviews with the glossy mags. Where in blazes is Tuvalu anyway? Then, there she is -- scratching at the screen door wearing one of her signature fluorescent pants suits. With her fixer, Huma Mahmood Abedin, in tow. Never could figure out how a nice Saudi girl winds up with a Brooklyn pervert; someone like Rahm Emanuel would have been more her type.
Hillary's all sweetness and conciliation. A big misunderstanding, taken out of context, journalists trying to stir something up. Scandal-mongering. I knew that if I got a word in, it would be a major victory. Not before Hillary was off on the next, sentimental riff: being together in Martha's Vineyard was like old times during the '08 campaign when our paths crossed in Dubuque. Rivals but also comrades in a good cause. That's the way it should be. I half expected her to exclaim: "Barack, I think this is the re-beginning of a beautiful friendship."
That's when I edged in a comment that she had soaked up so much campaign money that there was hardly enough left over to finance my Presidential Library. I let it out that I was not thrilled at the prospect of a cinder box warehouse on the Southside of Chicago. Hillary barely batted an eyelid and told me straight from the shoulder that there was more than enough loot out there for the both of us. She even made some cryptic remark about my golf rounds with Jamie Dimon of Chase Morgan -- who as the leader of all predatory activities on Wall Street is an influential and respected man. Irked, I retorted in kind that "I'm shocked, shocked that anyone'd think that there's fund-raising going on there. Moreover, he was asking about you in a way that made me jealous."
The awkward silence was broken by Hillary's interjection that Bill sent me his warmest greetings and good luck on the Middle East. She then passed me a handwritten note from Bill, on stationery from the Bellagio on the Strip in Las Vegas:
"I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. So let's get over these small squabbles and stick together on the big issues we face. Someday the American people will understand that."
"If Air Force One leaves the ground without us being hand-in-hand, we'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of our lives." -- Bill
I was flummoxed by these moving sentiments, gazing into the middle distance, when a line from a retro film began scrolling across the bottom of my mental screen: "You know how you sound, Mr. Clinton? Like a man who's trying to convince himself of something he doesn't believe in his heart."
I was jolted out of my reverie by my IPhone chiming "Hail to the Chief." It was Susan. Rogue members of the Afghan Election Commission have kidnapped John Kerry and were demanding that the United States immediately recognize Abdullah Abdullah as President "The CIA has blown it again," I shouted. "Round up the usual suspects."
Hillary got up to take her leave. At the door, She turned back, giving me one of her ambiguous looks and whispered with a half-smile: "We'll always have Benghazi."
Play it, Sam
Michelle's Postscript: "I was informed that she was the most ruthless woman ever to visit Martha's Vineyard. That was a gross understatement."