Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Bill Clinton is a Rock Star

And now even the evil old Number 41 realizes it.

Since New York Times stories expire, here's a snip for you:

White House Bond: Teamed by No. 43, 41 and 42 Hit It Off
When Mr. Bush went to the dedication of Mr. Clinton's presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., with the current president and former President Jimmy Carter in November, the 41st and 42nd presidents talked at times with such familiarity that former staff members were taken aback.

"President Clinton was walking with all the presidents, and former President Bush says, 'Bill, what are you doing with this property back here?' " said Representative Rahm Emanuel, an Illinois Democrat was a top aide to Mr. Clinton. "It only sticks with me because it seemed so 'friendlike.' "

More recently, Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton, whom President Bush appointed last month as his representatives in raising money for tsunami relief, were seen joking with each other as they sat side by side at the Super Bowl, where they had been invited by the National Football League.

"Frankly, President Bush likes Clinton a lot," Roland Betts, a close friend of the president, said. "He says he thinks he's a terrific person. He's not judging his administration. He just likes being around him."

The warming trend continued a few weeks later, when the president unveiled Mr. Clinton's official portrait at the White House with such gracious words that aides said Mr. Clinton was stunned. Mr. Bush praised Mr. Clinton as a man "with far-ranging knowledge of public policy, a great compassion for people in need and the forward-looking spirit the Americans like in a president."

Mr. Clinton reddened and his eye teared as he acknowledged: "I had mixed feelings coming here today, and they were only confirmed by all those kind and generous things you've said. Made me feel like I was a pickle stepping into history."

By the time of Mr. Clinton's library dedication, he and the Bushes were falling over one another with accolades. But the 41st president spoke about the man who bested him in 1992 in personal and revealing terms.

"It always has to be said that Bill Clinton was one of the most gifted American political figures in modern times," Former President Bush said. "Trust me. I learned this the hard way."

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