Bubba Trouble

The Comeback Id

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 July 2008 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.
Click here to read Todd S. Purdum’s blog and watch his “Capital Conversations” with Dee Dee Myers on VF Daily.

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.)
In fairness, it should be said that Clinton’s entourage that weekend also included his daughter, Chelsea, and her boyfriend, Marc Mezvinsky, and no one who was there has adduced the slightest evidence that Clinton’s behavior was anything other than proper. Nor, indeed, is there any proof of post-presidential sexual indiscretions on Clinton’s part, despite a steady stream of tabloid speculation and Internet intimations that the Big Dog might be up to his old tricks. On any given visit to London, for example, Clinton is as apt to dine with Tony Blair or Kevin Spacey as with anyone who might raise an eyebrow.
But among the not-so-small cadre of Clinton friends and former aides, concern about the company the boss keeps is persistent, palpable, and pained. No former president of the United States has ever traveled with such a fast crowd, and most 61-year-old American men of Clinton’s generation don’t, either. “I just think those guys are radioactive,” one former aide to Clinton who is still in occasional affectionate touch with him told me recently, referring to Burkle and (to a lesser extent) Bing. “I stay far away from them.”
Another former aide, trusted by Clinton for his good judgment, said, “On the sort of money, women, all that stuff … I’m the bad guy. All this stuff is kept away from me. Whatever they’re doing, they definitely view me as somebody you cannot confide in.” The Comeback Id: Politics & Power: vanityfair.com