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Thread: Teamwork

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005


    Perhaps we could take a lesson from this. Two formerly bitter rivals put partisan politics aside and get things done. They also become friends along the way:

    Monday, Dec. 19, 2005, Time Magazine
    When Opposites Attract
    Actually, Bush and Clinton discovered they were not so different after all while on the road raising relief money. Inside an improbable friendship

    The whole deal, as 42 might say, was 43's idea. Looking for a way to showcase the U.S. relief effort after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami last December, George W. Bush wondered if his two immediate predecessors in the White House might be willing to suit up and hit the road. He asked his chief of staff, "Do you think they'd work together?" The easy, reflex answer would have been no. George Herbert Walker Bush and William Jefferson Clinton came from different generations, from different social classes and from opposing political parties. Their 1992 face-off wasn't exactly tea and sympathy: Bush once called Clinton a "bozo," and Clinton usually referred to his rival as "Old Bush." The 10 years that followed weren't much better. The 1992 defeat hit Bush so hard that friends say he needed half a decade to get over it, and an aide recalls that some of Clinton's angriest private moments during his impeachment were rants directed not at independent counsel Ken Starr but at the Bush family's aura of privilege at a time when Clinton felt persecuted. Besides, whatever their history, the dynastic calculations were dizzying: one man's son is President, and the other's wife is believed by many to be a contender for next in line--a pair of legatees who, just to complicate things further, also happen to be the two most polarizing figures in American politics. Spanning those gaps would require a bridge not to the 21st century--but to the 21st dimension. How could it possibly work?

    And yet Andrew Card told his boss he thought it would. He assumed that the President's father would be an easy sell. And Card had been taking a lot of calls from Clinton--calls that came in late on Sunday nights, sometimes early in the morning--and he had been struck by how much Clinton seemed to know about the tsunami disaster and how much he wanted to help. Card knew that both men still had most of the world's leaders, moguls and wise men on their speed dials and could make things happen quickly. And so Card made some calls of his own and, within 10 minutes, had both men signed up, ready to go.

    The result has been the most fascinating political partnership of the year. Their story has been like a buddy movie: an unlikely and even awkward arrangement that evolves into real friendship and then an alliance that expands beyond its original mission. Their team has its limits and its lingering, unbridgeable differences, and their bond sparks considerable resentment in the wings of both their parties. But first with the tsunami and then with Katrina, the two men have galvanized the private response to natural disasters this year. What's more, by working together, Bush and Clinton have reminded a deeply divided nation how much old-fashioned teamwork is missing from its politics and what can be accomplished if people just join forces and pitch in. Says Clinton: "I think people see this, and it reminds them of how America is supposed to work."

    The world's most exclusive club has only 43 members, and all of them are dead except Gerald Ford, 92; Jimmy Carter, 81; George H.W. Bush, 81; and Bill Clinton, 59. For years, the club rarely met at all, and then only at openings of presidential libraries or VIP funerals. But as Presidents have lived longer after leaving office, most have tried to stay busy, and some have felt underused by their successors. Harvard business and government professor Roger Porter, who has worked as an aide to three Commanders in Chief, explains, "Being President is like drinking from a fire hydrant. And then suddenly this entire apparatus that has been feeding you, and caring for you and making you feel important and helping you make decisions that really do matter, is gone. It's a huge adjustment. It's easy to forget that these veterans still have a lot of good ideas."

    Relations between Bush and Clinton began warming more than a year ago, when 41 gave a gracious speech at the opening of the Clinton library in Little Rock, Ark., in November 2004. During a long tour of the facility that followed, the two men got lost in conversation and fell behind the main party, delaying lunch for the rest of the dignitaries. A bemused President Bush dispatched Clinton Foundation chairman Skip Rutherford with a message for the slow-moving club members: "Tell 41 and 42 that 43 is hungry."

    When they arrived in Washington last January to take on the tsunami job, the Bush-Clinton task was fairly limited: tour the region, collect information about how to help foreign governments, direct Americans to the right charities and send a signal at home and abroad that the U.S. takes the relief effort seriously. It didn't take long for the ice to break: both men discovered that they hated repeated rehearsals of television spots and tried to entertain each other between takes. During a round of joint interviews, Clinton put his former rival at ease by changing the subject when reporters lobbed questions at the father about the son's handling of the tsunami response. Call it a club courtesy. "Each of them knows" said a Bush aide, "what the other has had to face in that job."

    A fact-finding trip to Asia in February went better than either side expected. Clinton let Bush have the lone bedroom on the Air Force plane--a gesture Bush appreciated. Although Clinton is a well-known raconteur on overseas flights, it turned out that Bush was the charmer on that trip, introducing everyone all around, taking a shine to a couple of Clinton's aides and generally making folks feel at ease. Clinton was more subdued, still recovering from his quadruple-bypass operation five months before, but not so much that he could resist staying up at night playing Oh Hell! with Jean Becker, Bush's chief of staff.

    The duo turned up a couple of weeks later in Florida for a Greg Norman--sponsored golf tournament that raised almost $2 million for the tsunami effort. The next day Clinton had surgery to remove some scar tissue and fluid from around his left lung, and Bush immediately checked on his spirits and kept after him for weeks about the importance of working out. A family friend recalls sitting with Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine, while 41 dialed up his new best friend: How do you feel? What do the doctors say? Are you sore? How much are you exercising yet? Are you using the treadmill?

    In April, Bush and Clinton went to the Pope's funeral together, trading stories almost nonstop on the plane ride over, a cabinmate reports. And then Clinton flew to Maine in June for a weekend of wall-to-wall recreation. Bush was so excited about Clinton's arrival that he volunteered to pilot his three-engine speedboat about 30 miles up the coast from Kennebunkport to pick him up in person at the Portland airport. (Fog, in the end, upended that plan.) When Clinton finally arrived, Bush had him out to sea within minutes, an experience that Clinton likened to "levitation" (see box).

    Early on, jokes about the pair began turning up in Bush-family monologues. Barbara Bush dubbed them the odd couple. After Bush allowed as how he might be the father Clinton never really had, Florida Governor Jeb Bush referred to Clinton as "Bro." Bush 43 joined in too, telling guests at a private white-tie dinner that when Clinton woke up from his March operation, he was "surrounded by his loved ones: Hillary, Chelsea, my dad."

    But if the two lions bonded quickly, few who knew either were surprised. Both are confiding, forgiving men, welcoming to almost all comers and still nursing bruises from their time in office. Clinton told a reporter that because Bush had to reconcile with someone who had beaten him, he merited the most praise for making the partnership work. "I think he deserves far more credit than I do," said Clinton.

    By summer it was obvious that the partnership also had mutual political benefits: Bush's closeness conferred a statesmanlike legitimacy on Clinton and washed away some of the grime of impeachment. For Bush, the arrangement made it more likely that Clinton's criticism of Bush 43 would be delivered in a gentler, less personal way. "Like all relationships between human beings, this one is complex," said an aide to 43 and 41. "There is real affection, coupled with mutual need."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005

    Re: Teamwork

    Quote Originally Posted by Continued

    Bush and Clinton shook off a barrage of griping--interference, they called it--from longtime allies who said each was being used by the other. A veteran Bush aide tells TIME he pressed 41 about the partnership in a call last summer and was abruptly waved off. "Don't start with me," Bush told him. "Clinton's been very deferential, and we've been doing good things." When Clinton got the same treatment from a well-known Democratic operative this fall, an aide reports that he exploded and said, "This is much more important than politics."

    But too many meetings stayed private for the relationship to be simply, or even mostly, one of convenience. In addition to their public appearances, the two men met several times without reporters or camera crews present. Clinton flew to Houston last September to make plans for paying out Katrina funds, then joined Bush for dinner at his home there. The two men met for breakfast at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and did some quiet photo ops for private donors. During a stop in Little Rock to shoot some public-service announcements last spring, 41 spent more than an hour talking alone with 42 in the mock Oval Office at the Clinton library. "It looked like a wax museum in there," said a visitor who peeked in.

    What happened next explains why the men who survive the world's hardest job share some things no one else can understand. With some time to kill, Bush got happily lost in the Clinton galleries until a tourist approached him near one exhibit and said, "Hey, you look a lot like George Bush." Replied 41: "I am George Bush." Word spread quickly, and as Bush made his way back down a corridor, a group of schoolchildren broke into spontaneous applause. The kids were paying their respects to one President as he was paying his respects to another.

    If their work in the first half of the year was in part getting to know you, their work in the second could be called getting down to business. Phase 2 began after both made a discovery neither expected. Even though they had never tried to raise money directly for the tsunami-relief effort (they had simply guided donors to established charities), checks had rolled into their offices. It was a lot of money too: more than $12 million at last count, and it was still coming in last week. Many of the checks, moreover, came from people who attached notes making clear that in part they had been moved to give by the sight of the former rivals joining force. Mark Ward, a USAID official who worked closely with Bush and Clinton this year, said the unprecedented partnership changed the way Americans think about charitable aid. "They were able to get the attention of people in the U.S. who didn't give money to problems overseas before. Even my mother said, if these two could come together, she would find $100."

    Bush and Clinton soon realized they were becoming a brand--a nonpartisan, let's-do-it-together brand that people hadn't seen for a while. So after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast and Bush 43 called on them to set forth once more, the two men said yes but told the President they wanted to do it differently this time. Instead of directing others to charities, they would create their own nonprofit fund so donations could be sent directly to their offices in Houston and New York City or through the government website usafreedomcorps.gov They called it the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.

    The money poured in: $20 million in the first week. Over the next four months, they raised more than $115 million from corporate leaders, foreign governments and little kids hawking lemonade. Bush held regular photo ops with just about anyone who would give him a check; hounded by a particularly insistent woman who said she had "some money to give him," Bush agreed to finally meet her on a Boston tarmac, where she handed him a check for $500,000. "People just wanted to give to them," said Jay Carson, Clinton's spokesman. In fact, aides to both men report, some folks sent checks earmarked for the Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity or Toys for Tots with the expectation that the dream team would send them along.

    Bush and Clinton divided likely donors to call, and each fired up his fund-raising network for more. Unable to travel together because of scheduling conflicts, they carved the afflicted region into two and tried to cover as much ground separately as they could. They pleaded with Governors and mayors for ideas and then swapped what they heard by phone and e-mail. By mid-September, both men were, in Card's phrase, "very, very hands on, down in the weeds," more excited and enthused than their aides had seen them in months.

    Frenetic by nature, both men wanted to pay out the money as fast as it came in, to use it to fill gaps in the official relief effort. Said an aide: "Both saw cracks on about Day 3." Aides urged the two men to be patient and let the government and emergency charities, which had far more to hand out than they did, go first. It wasn't easy for either.

    But something else about Katrina bound Clinton and Bush even tighter: both men had deep emotional ties to the Gulf Coast. Bush made his fortune in oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico during the 1950s, when offshore drilling was still considered risky. And it was in the now infamous New Orleans Superdome that he snared the G.O.P. nomination in 1988 and spoke of a "kinder, gentler" nation. To Clinton, New Orleans was also promised land: his mother worked at the city's Charity Hospital while he was being raised by his grandparents in Arkansas, and it was to Louisiana and Mississippi that his family took its only out-of-state vacations. In Katrina, two men from different eras, backgrounds and philosophies found common ground--and it was littered with debris.

    Bush and Clinton returned to New Orleans together earlier this month, handing out $90 million in reconstruction funds to local colleges and universities; block grants to the Governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama; and at the suggestion of Bush 43, funds to help reopen churches and faith-based institutions. They created a bipartisan board to oversee the Katrina donations and vowed to put out a report later this month explaining how they spent their tsunami funds. (One project: buying new fiber-glass boats for fishermen who lost their vessels in the storm.) There's talk of a Clinton visit to Bush's College Station, Texas, library in the spring, and both men may address the May 2006 graduating class of Tulane University in New Orleans, which is set to reopen next month. They plan to keep raising money for Katrina relief as long as they can. When they taped their final TV spots of the year, they did them in one take.

  3. #3
    umdkook Guest

    Re: Teamwork

    good post......i should have linked it to the end of my "goodbye" thread cuase its rite on the money.

    ive mentioned it before, but if anyone by chance goes to any discussion forums thru yahooNews, you will see such rabid cons/dems with so much hate for each other its sickening.

    people forget who they are talking to and about, and some need to be put into check with their outrageous behavior (and dont say its me cuase i am only REacting to others hate with my own hate)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    Re: Teamwork

    Quote Originally Posted by umdkook
    good post......i should have linked it to the end of my "goodbye" thread cuase its rite on the money.

    ive mentioned it before, but if anyone by chance goes to any discussion forums thru yahooNews, you will see such rabid cons/dems with so much hate for each other its sickening.

    people forget who they are talking to and about, and some need to be put into check with their outrageous behavior (and dont say its me cuase i am only REacting to others hate with my own hate)
    But isn't "reacting" rather than responding considered "outrageous behavior"?


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