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Can Bill Clinton Handle the Competition?

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The New York Times recently reported, "Bill Clinton earned $17 million last year giving speeches, including one to a Lagos company for $700,000."

"I am going into the speech business," I told my wife, Judith.

"What makes you think you can succeed at that?" she asked.

"Bill Clinton made $17 million giving speeches last year." I replied.

"You're not Bill Clinton."

"But I can beat him on price. That's my hole card. I would charge some corrupt Nigerian company a $70,000 speaking fee. They could save $630,000."

"But do you have anything important to say?"

"No, but neither does Bill Clinton. Do you recall any headlines from one of his paid speeches? Since leaving office he has never once said anything interesting or important in the speeches for which he was paid $102 million."

"You don't understand," Judith explained. "Organizations pay Clinton obscene fees not for what he says but for who he is."

"You mean they pay him a fee to exist?"

"No. They pay him for his presence."

"Then I'm going into the presence business. I give good presence. In fact, I give great presence -- at one-tenth of what Clinton charges."

"Clinton's presence gives the event star power, glamor and prestige," Judith said. "His most recent speaking gigs were a meeting of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids and The Unique Lives & Experience women's conference in Toronto.

"Do you think anyone would attend meetings of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids or The Unique Lives & Experience women's conference if you were speaking?" Judith asked.

"That's not a fair question," I responded. "Bill Clinton has enjoyed long and intimate relations with these organizations. He has been passionately involved with Grand Rapids' economy since grade school. And he has spent a lifetime hitting on women, the unique and experienced as well as the common and experienced and the neophytes.

"Clinton is scheduled for the American Society for Clinical Pathology annual meeting in Chicago on September 18," I said. "These are my people. I can hear the Clinical Pathologists cracking up when I give them the punch line: And then the plumber said, I can save your wife, Mr. Goldfarb, but it's too late for the Rabbi."

"You don't understand," Judith said. "These are all insignificant and painfully boring organizations. They want glitz and pizzazz. That's why they rent Bill Clinton for an hour."

"I've got some glitz. True I've never committed perjury, but I've lied a lot. "

"Not good enough," Judith said.

"I've never had affairs with interns but I've tried to flirt with a few waitresses. How's that for pizzazz?"

"Not good enough."

"I never pardoned Marc Rich but I did remark that Bernie Madoff looked avuncular. And I prefer boxers to briefs."

"Forget about speaking and try for some board work. At age 31 Chelsea Clinton joined Barry Diller's board where she makes $300,000 a year," Judith said.

"Great suggestion! I'll call our two girls and tell them to join corporate boards paying $300,000. I think I deserve a 20% commission for coming up with this idea.