President Clinton seemed to be having fun yesterday moving into his new digs in Chappaqua, N.Y. But it's not at all clear whether he's going to be able to play golf at one of the most prestigious private golf clubs in the area.
"It's very hard to get in to golf clubs these days," says possible presidential candidate Donald Trump, a member of the highly sought-after Winged Foot Golf Club, which has been the site of the U.S. Open four times. It has a 15-year waiting list.
But a former president? Wouldn't that count for something in terms of jumping the list? Sure, Trump said in a chat yesterday. "It wouldn't have been tough for him to get in, but for the scandals."
The White House says Clinton has not applied for membership at the exceptionally fine club. It's so exclusive that its Web site, save for directions and a short blurb, is accessible only to members with a password. The rules and regs? Calendar of events? Tournament results? All secret.
"He's not going to get in," Trump predicted.
But not to worry, Trump said. "I'm building a beautiful golf club five minutes from his home, and I would be happy to have him as a member."
Probably just as well. Clinton wouldn't like Winged Foot. As former club president William Rose explained in 1997, Winged Foot is a "golfer's club . . . not a wealthy man's club . . . not a society club . . . not a business club. The game of golf is taken extremely seriously here. We play by the rules and the etiquette of the game." Translation: No mulligans.
Meanwhile, all that chatter about the Clinton presence messing up the neighborhood, depressing property values, bringing riffraff, is likely off base, according to Trump, who, after all, knows property values.
Trump said he thinks Clinton has "helped the property values" in the area. While there has been an increase in traffic, having a former president in the neighborhood is a plus and there's "a lot more security," in the area.
Opening a Cabinet Door?
Now comes word that U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke is having Vice President Gore preside over this year's first public meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Monday. Washington has the rotating council presidency for January, so Holbrooke is in charge.
Gore would be the first veep ever to run a council meeting, Holbrooke said. Gore will oversee a session on the impact of the AIDS epidemic on Africa.
It's all very important, of course, but that didn't stop one cynical White House type from saying "this is the kickoff for the Holbrooke for secretary of state campaign" in a Gore administration. Holbrooke has also invited Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) up for a speech.
Holbrooke may be trying to follow Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright's script for her move from the U.N. to Foggy Bottom. Maintaining good relations with Helms was an Albright priority. Doubtful that we'll see a Helms-Holbrooke kiss, however.
Meanwhile, some people think that national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, last seen yesterday addressing the National Press Club on foreign policy, also wouldn't turn the State job down.
Moffett Withdraws Bid for Argentina Post
Seven years later and President Clinton still hasn't figured out how to make ambassadorial appointments. The latest fiasco came yesterday when former Connecticut representative Toby Moffett, who had been tapped in the summer to be ambassador to Argentina, pulled out.
Seems the background checks on Moffett, which began in the fall, kept dragging on and on and the last word was that it might take a few more months for the nomination to go to the Senate. That would have meant a spring confirmation and the possibility of a half-year ambassadorship. It also would have meant pulling his five children out of school in the spring and further financial losses.
Moffett decided this was making no sense and pulled out. "We're back to square one," said one Clintonite. Actually, they're not even there. It's almost impossible to get anyone save a career foreign service officer confirmed this year. And even that is not a given.
Argentina, which had formally agreed to Moffett and had President Carlos Menem issue a statement hailing his selection, will no doubt be impressed by the administration's deftness. Clinton is within reach of having the post, empty since Dec. 19, 1996, vacant for his entire second term. Quite a feat.
Brain, Robb Join White House Staff
Charles Brain has been waiting for official word that he will be the head of the White House legislative affairs operation. He got it Wednesday afternoon when White House chief of staff John D. Podesta, meeting with Senate Democratic leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) and House Democratic leader Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.), announced the selection.
Karen Robb, a veteran of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department and chief of staff to Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), is the pick to handle Senate matters in the office.
Lynch Leaves Hill for Pharmaceutical Group
On the Hill, Ann-Marie Lynch, now staff director of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on health, is moving to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) as executive director for strategic affairs and economic analysis.