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Monday, June 02, 2008

The Comeback Id

Bubba Trouble

Old friends and longtime aides are wringing their hands over Bill Clinton’s post–White House escapades, from the dubious (and secretive) business associations to the media blowups that have bruised his wife’s campaign, to the private-jetting around with a skirt-chasing, scandal-tinged posse. Some point to Clinton’s medical traumas; others blame sheer selfishness, and the absence of anyone who can say “no.” Exploring Clintonworld, the author asks if the former president will be consumed by his own worst self.

by Todd S. Purdum, Vanityfair

Bill Clinton

Former president Bill Clinton campaigning in Richmond on behalf of his wife during the run-up to the 2008 Virginia primary, which Hillary Clinton would lose to Barack Obama. By Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.


It was a wedding straight out of Sex and the City: a rehearsal dinner looking out over the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero, a garden ceremony and dancing reception in a grand château outside Paris, topped off by a private fireworks display. The groom was a thirtysomething American lawyer with friends in high places, the bride a dark-eyed designer with social sheen, and the guest list a mix of family and what Noël Coward once called Nescafé Society.

But the real cynosure of the occasion last August was the smiling, snowy-haired man who is the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral he attends, the 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton. He had come to the City of Light with the motley crew that constitutes some of the post-presidential rat pack to celebrate the marriage of Douglas Band, the man who for the last decade has been his personal aide, gatekeeper, enforcer, and—more recently—counselor in the multifarious business, philanthropic, and political dealings that keep Clinton restlessly circling the globe.

Also in attendance was Ron Burkle, the California supermarket billionaire and investor who is Clinton’s bachelor buddy, fund-raiser, and business partner. Burkle had come with an attractive blonde, described by a fellow guest as “not much older than 19, if she was that.”

Burkle’s usual means of transport is the custom-converted Boeing 757 that Clinton calls “Ron Air” and that Burkle’s own circle of young aides privately refer to as “Air Fuck One.” Clinton himself had arrived on the private plane of another California friend, the real-estate heir, Democratic donor, liberal activist, and sometime movie and music producer Steve Bing, whose colorful private life includes fathering a child out of wedlock with the actress Elizabeth Hurley and suing the billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian for invasion of privacy, alleging that private investigators for Kerkorian swiped Bing’s dental floss out of his trash in a successful effort to prove that Bing’s DNA matched that of a child delivered by Kerkorian’s ex-wife, the former tennis pro Lisa Bonder. (The suit was later settled out of court.)

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Clinton attacks Vanity Fair

The Clinton camp responded today to Vanity Fair's long article on Bill with its own 2,476-word memo, which includes attacks on the magazine's "penchant for libel," on editor Graydon Carter, and on writer Todd Purdum and his wife, former Clinton aide Dee Dee Myers.

The memo (after the jump) calls the piece "journalism of personal destruction at its worst" and singles out, among other things, Purdum's suggestion that Clinton's heart surgery changed his personality.

Purdum "is not an MD," the memo points out.

The memo, provided by Clinton aide Jay Carson, also singles out Myers for this unexplained criticism:

Purdum's disclosure of [his marriage] in the piece does not, as Vanity Fair apparently concluded, remove the obvious conflict of interest. It's a conflict that would likely not be contemplated at more reputable publications, especially considering that, as a result of this relationship, at least one source's anonymity was revealed to others.

The memo also lists Bill Clinton's post-presidential accomplishments.

"Most revealing is one simple fact: President Clinton has helped save the lives of 1,300,000 people in his post-presidency, and Vanity Fair couldn't find time to talk to even one of them for comment," it says.

Full Memo Here


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