Mr. McAuliffe's excellent adventures
By Michael M. Bates
Democratic bagman Terry McAuliffe is one awesome guy. If you don't believe that, just ask him.
McAuliffe's new book, What a Party! My Life Among Democrats, is an inadvertently hilarious exercise in narcissism. The former chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and fundraiser extraordinaire is as self-absorbed as his comrade Bill Clinton.
McAuliffe writes that he's a Democrat because of his yearning to help common people. No one promised him the struggle would be painless.
So here's Terry having brunch at Barbra Streisand's mansion. Terry at Pamela Harriman's house asking singer Paul Simon him if he's had any hits. Terry hunting ducks with actor Larry Hagman. Then Terry's lunching with the owner of the Baltimore Orioles. Doing lunch at the Palm with Jack Nicholson. Having dinner with Jon Bon Jovi. Meeting with P. Diddy, Beyonce, the Black Eyed Peas and Luciano Pavarotti.
Don't overlook Terry's audience with the Pope. Or his teasing Oscar de la Renta that McAuliffe's 13-year-old daughter should be a runway model. Or the outing to Mikhail Barysnikov's beach villa. Or Yasser Arafat rubbing Terry's leg under the dinner table before giving McAuliffe a kiss on the lips. That trauma may have been balanced by Olivia Newton-John holding Terry's hand and singing "I Honestly Love You" to him.
What poor Terry's had to endure just to fight for common people. Many of his adventures, such as the family vacation at Julio Iglesia's "spectacular oceanfront estate," took place with his very dear friends Bill and Hillary Clinton.
So close are they that Terry coughed up $1.3 million in 1999 for Clinton to buy the Chappaqua house. Golfing together, Bill told McAuliffe he didn't have the necessary cash, but hadn't informed Hillary:
"The President was terrified to tell her that because of the exorbitant legal fees, both the house and her hopes of running for Senate were in danger of falling apart." Striking a blow for average Joes everywhere, Terry assured Bill he'd supply the bucks.
What's interesting in this charming anecdote is that the President of the United States was "terrified" to talk to his own wife. Having already explained Monica to her, the fear level shouldn't have been so high. Of course, the scarier part for them wasn't losing the house, but having her political ambitions thwarted.
Terry writes, "Clinton was relieved that he wouldn't have to have any more awkward conversations with Hillary over this. . . ." Isn't Hillary now running around saying that she immediately wants "to start a conversation" with the whole country? Yet her husband urgently wanted to avoid a conversation with her. Maybe she means the whole country minus an impeached president.
As you've concluded, McAuliffe unremittingly brags in his book. On 9/11, he watched events unfold not on just any television in his office, but on a big television in his office. Joking that Vice President Cheney was drunk when he accidentally shot a friend, Terry has to wait not seconds, but several minutes for an audience's laughter to die down. McAuliffe zipped through law school while running four businesses and raising money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the DNC and Walter Mondale's presidential campaign.
Terry boasts that calling his friends from Air Force One "helped them get dates." He crows about showing up at the 2004 Republican Convention. Staggered by his daring, delegates took his picture to prove to their friends that gutsy son of a gun was really there.
His son's birth presented Terry with a chance to quarrel with a doctor over socialized medicine. McAuliffe knows that the child is proud that "as he came into the world his father was down the hall fighting for the little guy."
Terry claims he's "Mr. Positive" (hope that's not from an AIDS test) and likes everybody. Yet he seethes with hatred for George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, et al.
Conspiracies abound. The 2000 election was stolen. Reagan made a secret deal to release the Iranian hostages after the 1980 election. Running the White House like a Motel 6 for fat cats was purely a Republican witch hunt, as was Clinton's last minute pardons of assorted scoundrels, one of whom had renounced his U.S. citizenship.
McAuliffe's shaky on other matters as well. He touches on "the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis." It was in 1962. With no evidence, he contends flatly that in 2000 the press liked George Bush and disliked Albert Gore; their coverage reflected those feelings. Terry overlooks analyses that repeatedly show most in the media are liberal. Just one instance was a 1996 Roper Center study in which half the Washington bureau chiefs and congressional correspondents identified themselves as Democrats. Only four percent said they were Republicans.
But, hey, what's the use of being a Democrat if you have to deal with reality? Terry raved, "This is the best election night in history" the evening Monsieur Kerry lost. The following day he claimed, "This party is stronger than it's ever been."
Terry's tome would have been better if he'd included some investment tips. Here's a man, after all, who turned $100 in 1991 into $2.45 million by 1993. Oh, and then there was that $375,000 he received the same year for "helping" Prudential Insurance obtain a contract to lease office space to a Federal agency. Naturally, his political clout has absolutely nothing to do with his incredible financial acumen.
McAuliffe's wealth permits him to travel in rarefied circles while simultaneously poking fun at what he terms Republican elitism. It can't be easy fighting in the trenches day in and day out for all those little people, but someone has to do it.
That Terry. What an awesome guy. Just ask him.
This Mike Bates column appeared in the April 5, 2007 Reporter Newspapers.