Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategists have concluded that she will easily be nominated in 2016 but cannot win the general election–unless a strong conservative running as an independent drains votes from the Republican candidate. So they will surreptitiously do their best to make that happen, Orbmagazine has learned.
“They are reaching out to Wall Street allies to do ‘black-ops’ funding for a 3d-party run by Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum or Herman Cain in case a moderate like Jeb Bush or Chris Christie becomes the nominee,” says a well-informed source in the upper echelons of finance. “Who knows, they might even land Sarah Palin. She would love the attention.”
Due to the recent Supreme Court decision on campaign financing, it is easy to disguise the true sources of money channeled through opaque political action committees, which are experts at negative advertising. The Clinton undercover agents could attack the Republican and build up the 3d-party candidate without leaving any fingerprints.
Hillary’s approval rating is stuck at 43 percent, not enough to win a two-person contest for president. But, as the Clintonites well remember, Bill Clinton was elected in 1992 with 43 percent, when independent candidate Ross Perot grabbed 18 percent of the popular vote, most of it from the incumbent president, George H.W. Bush.
“The Clinton war machine is hoping for a replay of ’92, with a right-winger wounding the moderate Republican candidate and allowing Hillary to slip in with a plurality,” said our source. “And in recent days, many people are starting to believe that Jeb Bush will win the nomination, which would make for an eerie echo of the Bush-Clinton race 24 years earlier. Eerie indeed.
What is interesting about the Clintons’ audacious bid to recapture the throne is that everyone acknowledges it would be their third co-presidency, but no one talks or writes about it. It is verboten in Manhattan to point out that trying to keep Bill Clinton from interfering in government operations in a Hillary White House would be like trying to keep Anthony Weiner from sex-trolling on the Internet. Fuhgetaboutit. It’s what they do.
Who would be the person with the nerve to tell Bill Clinton he can’t sit in on a meeting of the National Security Council? Who would be so foolish as to try? If and when the former president tells the pilot of Air Force One to lift off, or advises the Pentagon to send troops to Outer Mongolia, who will go to Huma to ask her to ask Hillary to countermand Bill’s instructions? No one–it’s in his nature to give orders, and he will. Good for him–that’s our boy. Plenty of drama.
Hillary, if elected, will be the one to raise her hand and take the oath of office, but Bill will co-pilot the Ship of State. He will have successfully circumvented the constitutional prohibition against a third term, just as Juan Peron did in Argentina.
Even more interesting is that most of her supporters accept and badly want another Clinton co-presidency. One lawyer said to me last week, “It’s one of Hillary’s strongest arguments for her election.”. [Clinton detractors would also welcome a co-presidency–it would confirm their deepest fears and paranoid fantasies.]
If the Clintons win in 2016, it will be the highest-profile co-regency since King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The Clinton/Rodhams have come a long way from Little Rock, and they ain’t goin’ back. For students of presidential history, it doesn’t get any better than this.
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The Times Breaks the Ice at Gstaad
by Eric Newill, Orbmagazine National Editor
In its never ending attempt to document the trials of the wealthy, the Times’ T Magazine this month published a laugh-out-loud essay offering a snapshot of the frozen-in-amber Alpine resort Gstaad and its poor little rich girls and boys. With an arch tone and many amusing turns of phrase (“drunk on the glühwein of power,” to name just one), writer Phoebe Eaton presents a town in conflict with itself, where an idealized image is bedeviled by the modern scourge of commerce, celebrity and consumption.
One can’t be certain if she is exalting or satirizing this A-list enclave when she pens lines like, “Good manners appear to have gone the way of the wooden ski.” Perhaps both. In any event, Eaton is ably aided by a host of pithy subjects, particularly the retrograde wit, writer and society fixture Taki Theodoracopulos, whose dislike of the New Gstaad is sparklingly evident.
A longtime part-time resident, Taki, who remembers when the streets were lined with cheese shops, butchers and vegetable markets, abhors the new boutique culture, and has a “special contempt for jewelers, Russians (but not Romanoffs), Bernie Ecclestone et filles, Arabs and any nonskier who would presume to snare a balcony table at his own beloved Eagle.” (That last remark references a contretemps that occurred at the old-line Eagle Ski Club, where to his horror Taki had discovered diamond czar Laurence Graff occupying his usual spot. Taki prevailed.)
His withering comments about the sorry state of things take in not only the declining quality of boldface names—a steep slope that descends from Bill Buckley and David Niven to today’s exemplar, Madonna (“I think it was Elizabeth Taylor who started the rot”)—but even friends who support the new $110 million Les Arts Gstaad concert hall: Speaking of Baroness Marion Lambert and Dame Theresa Sackler, he laments, “Instead of spreading their money to poor Greek sailors out of work and buying gigolos, which is what ladies used to do, they want to go cultural on us. Go artsy-fartsy.”
Indeed, in addition to the glittering roll call of international luxury brands such as Audemars Piguet, Brunello Cucinelli and Cartier, the Big-Time Contemporary Art World has staked its claim in Gstaad. For the exhibition “Elevation 1049” (curated by New Yorker Neville Wakefield), Roman Signer created a “kinetic sculpture” in the form of a house careening downhill on skis. Meanwhile, super-gallerist Larry Gagosian was observed “sharking around the Alpina,” a fantastic new hostelry built upon the bones of its venerable namesake, featuring Japanese cuisine, an underground spa and an ever-changing collection of important artworks.
Eaton has fun with the arriviste nature of the town’s accommodations: “Le Grand Bellevue…offers six different saunas and steam baths and an ice grotto. Locals nicknamed the Bellevue ‘the Bang & Olufsen’ after some Philippe Starck-inflected radical surgery there in 2002. A new redo has rendered it a Swiss Family Soho House.”
Along the way we also meet such archetypes as Lorenz Bach, whose eponymous boutique “targets the kind of Continental peacocks who parade around in tweedy waistcoats, just as he does,” and his cousin, real-estate entrepreneur Marcel Bach, whose perseverance with the Alpina has made him “very, very rich”: “After a first failed frostbitten crack at Mount Everest, he bestrode its summit a year later.”
Still, for all the teeth gnashing and hand wringing over the town’s evolution, some things remain consistent, such as proper dress in the august Palace hotel. Eaton relates the owner’s tale of Harvey Weinstein appearing in his establishment’s Grill, resplendent in untucked shirt and exposed undershirt. After first believing “a waiter had gone crazy and was quitting,” he proceeded to ask the Hollywood honcho to retire upstairs and return suitably attired.
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Which Son Will Get La Grenouille?
With this morning’s NYT obit for Gisele Masson (11/14), the mystery of who will inherit society’s favorite restaurant, La Grenouille, approaches its dénouement. Did the grande dame, who founded the joint in 1962 with husband Charles Sr., bequeath it to Charles Jr., the beloved proprietor from 2000 until last April, or her other son Philippe, who replaced him then at mama’s direction?
The creme de la creme had threatened to boycott when Charles Jr. was edged out, but they couldn’t bring themselves to forego the cosseting and coddling they are accustomed to on 52d street. So Charles Jr. became manager of the restaurant at the Baccarat Hotel, opening in February two blocks away.
Now the suspense is unbearable. The majority of plutocrats are hoping it goes to Charles, but are resigned to a Philippe usurpation. Trust me: chic heads are losing sleep over this.
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Why I Will Mourn the Polish Tea Room
By Leonard Finger, Orbmagazine Correspondent in Buenos Aires[EDITOR’S NOTE: The Broadway community is reeling this week from news that the coffee shop at the Edison Hotel on West 47th will close at year’s end. For decades, this was the unofficial commissary for stage actors, stagehands, ticketsellers, agents, chorus girls, playwrights, directors and even producers. It was dubbed “The Polish Tea Room”, a dig at its ritzier, pricier counterpart on 57th street. On a personal note, we ate there too. The first business lunch for Orbmagazine was conducted over its blintzes. Leonard Finger, for many years a theatrical agent and noted collector of theatrical memorabilia, is now living in Buenos Aires. He sends us this cri de coeur.]
I am very sad to see it go. Not only was it the last outpost of shabby reuse..the tacky luncheonette fitted into a ruined ballroom with pastel painted plasterwork. It was the last Times Square “fast food” reflecting the Jewish influence on the theater and New York in general. A bowl of matzoh ball soup? That’s fast food? Well, it was, and to many other uncircumcised citizens, to boot. The knish may be the final thing, but is it even sold anymore from those metal carts with rats living in them at night?
The hot dog was German – only marketed by Jews at Coney Island.
The Edison mushroom barley was my preference in winter…and they had a passable borscht. But what I liked best there was the matzoh brie. Not available elsewhere.
Of course, the loony hierarchy of the VIP room, with Neil Simon and Manny Azenberg, added the “club to which you should want to be a member” ethos. Unlike the Carnegie, everyone who worked there was not only civil but friendly. Of course old Puerto Ricans are more charming than flatulent old Hebrews.