Bill Clinton steals the show at the Creativity Conference

April 26, 2013

At Friday morning’s “Creativity Conference” sponsored by TIME, Microsoft and the Motion Picture Association of America, the media masses assembled at the Corcoran Gallery of Art to discuss creativity: its role in academics and the workplace, its potential as a force for good in our nation and around the world, its possibilities and its limitations.

Also, honestly, everybody showed up to see Bill Clinton.


Bill Clinton is making meaningful eye contact with you right now. (Photo credit: Jessica Goldstein)

Bill Clinton — former President of the United States, current husband of Hillary Rodham Clinton/the fastest texter in the west, Twitter newbie — was on hand to deliver the keynote address. He was probably told that the theme of the event was “creativity” but, in true Clintonian fashion, used the event as a springboard to talk about anything and everything that interests him. Also? That thing people say about how it feels like Bill Clinton is making eye contact with every single person in the room when he gives speeches? THAT IS REAL.


“You’re part Neanderthal, too! We all have so much in common.” (Photo credit: Jessica Goldstein)

Some highlight’s from Clinton’s speech:

Best fortune cookie wisdom: TIE “I always tell people, when they get discouraged when politics don’t go their way: Nothing is permanent, and that’s a good thing.” and “The future has a weaker lobby than the present.”

Best thing I’m not entirely sure is true: “I wish I were 20! I’d give up being President again just to take the chance and see what will happen.”

Best reason we don’t live in a world where Bill Clinton is a jazz musician: “I looked in the mirror and said, ‘No matter how hard you work, will you ever be as good as John Coltraine?’ And the answer was, ‘No.’ ”

Best subtweet to the anti-environmental lobby: “Just on the off-chance we burn up the planet, it’d be nice to know there’s someplace we could go.” (On our recent discovery of two new planets.)

Best joke I bet he has not stopped telling since this happened: (After describing how we apparently have all partly descended from Neanderthals): “I told my family that at dinner one night. Chelsea said, ‘Dad, Mom and I knew you were part Neanderthal all along.”

Another boldface name at the shindig: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was interviewed by the executive editor of Time magazine, Michael Duffy, about creativity as it pertains to public policy.


This event had a professional doodler (probably not her exact job title). Here is one of her lovely illustrations. (Photo credit: Jessica Goldstein)

Cantor mostly stressed that we all need to learn to listen to one another, even when we disagree. Is this a lesson you could have ascertained from last night’s episode of ‘Parks and Recreation’? Probably. But it’s still fun to hear people talk about the Vice President, as Cantor did: “Obviously [Joe Biden] and I disagree on a lot of things… But we find common ground.” No specifics provided on that common ground.

And the two (other) best quotes of the morning:

“Paul [Newman] encouraged everyone to speak up, from the interns to the director… That’s because he was a man with no insecurity.” — Harvey Weinstein, on the handsomest man who ever walked this Earth.

“I was at the table… Anybody who tells you they knew what ["The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City"] were going to become is full of s**t… [On Lena Dunham] Is she special? Yes. Does anyone know how and why that happened? No.” Richard Plepler, CEO of HBO, on the unpredictability of tapping into the zeitgeist.

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Amy Argetsinger | April 26, 2013