When I was writing Clinton in Exile, I heard often about how technologically challenged the former president is. Aides to Bill Clinton told me that when they were in the White House Al Gore used to laugh at his boss's Luddite ways. "Gore used to make fun of Clinton all the time for not knowing how to turn on his computer," Elaine Kamarck, who had been a senior adviser to Gore, told me. Clinton still does not use a computer; he does not, and probably wisely, given his penchant for erupting into rages, use email -- his emails, news and blogs are printed out for him.
But once Clinton learned how to use the cell phone -- it took awhile before he figured out how not to cut people off mid call and got used to no longer having the White House operator place his calls in the middle of the night (his preferred time) -- he came to rely on his cell phone. Former aides such as Leon Panetta told me that Clinton by nature prefers to communicate by telephone (as opposed to email).
Following Bill Clinton's rather tepid promise yesterday to do "whatever he can" to elect Obama; a man whom the former president sees as not only his wife's rival but his own, Obama responded to a reporter's question in a manner that reeks of a distant time when if a colleague or friend was in Europe it was cumbersome and expensive to call.
Asked whether he had spoken directly to Bill since HIllary's concession, Obama would not answer, offering instead, "He's in Europe right now which is the only reason we haven't spoken. But we're looking forward to setting up a long conversation."
It's actually surprisingly easy to reach Bill Clinton. When I was trying to arrange an appointment to interview him and was being given the runaround by Jay Carson, then the former president's aide, I called Carson's cell phone, reached him in the middle of the night at a restaurant with Bill in Africa. Bill, whose voice I'm quite certain I heard in the background, of course wouldn't take my call, but he might take Obama's. Then again, he might not.