Bob Franken

The Oval Office Cabal

They had met with the current occupant in their old digs in the Oval office Saturday. After that, there they were on five of the Washington Sunday Game shows—the usual drill.

Bill Clinton and George Bush the Younger are singing the same tune at the behest of the latest leader of the band. They’re bringing the ultimate prestige of their exclusive Chief Executives Club to the crisis in Haiti at the behest of the newest member, Barack Obama.

They’ll be very visible careening to and fro, and taking advantage, behind-the-scenes, of their unique connections to their old heads-of state buddies as well as their big-money groupies.

It probably would take something like an earthquake to get these two guys together. Other than being former leaders of the free world, they don’t really have a lot in common. That, and the fact they’re both sometime-ardent political enemies of Obama.

But he should give them plenty to gossip about when they fill the awkward gaps in conversation while they are forced together in various Green Rooms and private jets.

“It was bound to happen”. Bush begins the small talk. “Barack started out as King of the World, just a year ago. It seemed like everybody was united, celebrating his historic accomplishment”

“Well, George,” says Clinton, “I recall that you didn’t have that experience. At least half the country felt you had stolen the election in Florida. I personally didn’t care, because I thought that Al Gore was a wooden twit. But as I glumly stood on your inauguration stand, I sure didn’t look out on a sea of proud Americans the way Barack Obama did”

“You’re missing my point, Bill” . Bush is slightly annoyed. “What we all had in common on Day One was a belief that we had all the answers. I was genuinely convinced that my experience as Governor in Texas prepared me for the world stage. You must have too, as Governor of— what-was-that-state?”

“Lemme think”. It always takes Clinton a moment. “Oh yeah, Arkansas”.

“Whatever”. Bush picks up his thought. “It didn’t take long, I think you’ll agree, to discover that we not only didn’t have all the answers, we had no earthly idea how many questions there were nor how many thought they had the only good way to solve each issue, to say nothing of how upset they would get when we wouldn’t drop everything and immediately deal with them”.

“You got that right George. It’s easy to understand how the approval ratings of Obama the Rock Star have dropped like a boulder. He hasn’t learned the bitter lesson:
When you try and please everybody you please nobody”

“Besides Bill, living in that White House bubble wears you down after awhile. The public knows about everything that goes on in that building”

That brings a really quick response from Clinton: “EVERYTHING!!”

That one flies right over Bush’s head. He’s off on another tangent: “The palace intrigue was impossible for me to manage. Not only did I have to watch out for Karl Rove, but Dick Cheney was lurking. At least Gore accepted his role as Vice President and in Barrack’s case, his guy Biden just talks up a blue streak. Cheney was dangerous. He thought he was Emperor. Be glad you didn’t have anyone like that.”

“Of course I did. I had Hillary”

“Oh yeah, what’s she doing these days?”

Clinton wouldn’t even bother with that one. “Speaking of Hillary, you know, George, she and I honeymooned in Haiti and I have a long attachment to the country. That knowledge will give me experience you don’t have to deal with this catastrophe”

“Are you kidding Bill? Are you forgetting about Katrina?”

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