Bill Clinton spoke at the opening of BEA tonight in Chicago. After leaving Kauai at 10PM and flying all night to arrive at the hotel in Chicago around three PM the next day, we were wiped out, but there was no way we were going to miss Bill. A cab ride and some line standing later, we took our seats…
He spoke before about 3000 people. He was, as you already know, funny, and bright, and well-informed, and charming, and twenty-minutes late. He spoke for an hour without notes, except for looking down to get the names of the people he wanted to thank. He talked about putting the book together, and had some very funny anecdotes about dealing with his editor.
In the end, he said basically this: “You all, you have nothing to worry about. Things have been as devisive and partisan as this in this country before. In fact, when the country was being established, the things that Adams wrote about Jefferson would boil the hair off a dog. But every time this country has faced this great devisiveness, partisanship, the country has always chosen to focus on those things that would unite us, to focus on those things that bring us together, not that set us apart.”
And for the first time since the 2000 election, I felt hopeful for this country.
The guy sitting next to me, a very famous author, said, “I don’t care, I would buy that guy two Monicas if he’d take the job back again.” Which cracked me up, because the guy sitting next to me was also an ex-minister.
Later we went to dinner with some friends at a small hotel restaurant, and Larry Flynt came in with his wife and some friends.
Now I’m crapping out on you guys to let the jet-lag wash over me.
Tomorrow I have to go lose an award. I’ve been practicing my “I’m just happy to be nominated face.”