For Bill, the Big Apple Might Be Very Tempting

A few reasons why President Clinton could have the time of his life running New York

By Ciro Scotti

Save for some dark and divisive rumors about a coming indictment from Special Prosecutor Robert Ray (the Ken Starr Chambermaid), the future looks bright indeed for our young, enigmatic, outgoing President William Jefferson Clinton.

Certainly, he'll want to take some time to digest all the extraordinary events of the past eight years -- the hateful scandals, the Republican noses rubbed in dirt again and again, the triumph of presiding over the most prosperous economy the world has ever witnessed.

Perhaps he'll find a warm, quiet place to lay down a straw mat and meditate on what might have been -- had not the jealous zealots of the Right mounted a jihad against his Administration and him personally.


  Once the reflection is finished -- he leaves on Jan. 20, so let's say by Jan. 22 -- Citizen Clinton can consider the stack of offers that will be piling up on the desks of his $1.7 million home in suburban New York and his $2.8 million house in Washington.

Yet in the light of some winter morning very soon, with Hillary and Chelsea gone, Buddy at his side, sitting in front of the fire, the roar of the crowd growing more distant, Bill Clinton is going to realize something: Only one job will make sense. The one that's been bandied half-jokingly about but that somehow seems righter by the day: Mayor of New York.

Oh, sure, he could be a Wall Street rainmaker pulling down gazillions a year, a Hollywood mogul hobnobbing with the surgically enhanced glitterati that adore him, a tweedy thinker presiding over some prestigious university in the Northeast, even a corporate executive bringing glamour to staid brands as he convinces all those disapproving suits that he really wasn't such a bad guy.

At the least, he could take the lowly road of predecessors like former President George Bush and collect outlandish fees for canned speeches overseas. But the next job must afford our needy Bill the attention he craves. He'll get it in Gotham, all right.

Money has never been the game for Clinton, and besides, Hillary is bringing home plenty of bacon with her memoirs (Diary of a Mad White Housewife?).


  Tinseltown is a hoot, but, hey, forcing yourself to talk public policy with some aged star whose skin is pulled tight as a bongo can be a drag when all you really want to do is get naked and jump in the hot tub.

Heading up an Ivy League school would be rewarding, especially if some coed guidance counseling is required. Yet the leafy, bookish life will be there for the taking in later years. No need to rush into academia now -- not with the Big Apple just a train ride away.

Oh, it would do Clinton's heart good to teach a thing or two to the starched MBAs of Corporate America. They never had to do diddley for their outrageous incentive pay while his economy was lifting all boats. Being even vaguely subordinate to some full-of-himself CEO might be too demeaning, though. Sure, Bill might take a no-show board seat here and there, but heavy Big Biz would be too tight around the collar.

The downside to being Mr. Mayor? Despite the old saw that running NYC is the second-toughest job in the country, going from leader of the Western World to Prince of the City would be a step backward. As mayor, Clinton would also have to swallow some pride and actually appear interested when Governor George Pataki (or a future Governor Rudy Giuliani) speaks. And if he got called to testify on Capitol Hill about some program or another, he'd have to muster all his restraint and talk nice to those congressional toadies that, as President, he would regularly squash underfoot.


  Ah, but the upside. In order to establish residency, the Clintons would have a perfect excuse for moving the hell out of the suburbs and into Manhattan. Once he won, it would be back to public housing at Gracie Mansion. And win he would. The small-bore pols now talking about running for mayor would make a light, pre-breakfast snack for Bill.

Sure, there would be work to do, but Rudy has done a lot of the heavy lifting already. And if New Yorkers didn't already love Clinton enough, the striking change from eat-your-spinach Rudy to let's-eat-our-way-through-the-Zagat's Bill would start him off on a long honeymoon.

New York is the country Clinton wanted to lead -- diverse, intelligent, cosmopolitan, and enlightened. And what a mayor he would be. Can't you just see him strolling down Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick's Day, his nose purple in the March wind, his smile as wide as the Hudson. Hizzoner Bill Clinton. The toast of the town.

Scotti, senior editor for government and sports business, offers his unvarnished views every week in A Not-So-Neutral Corner, only for BW Online

Edited by Douglas Harbrecht

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