In the run-up to New York City’s mayoral primary, there was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment of Clinton nostalgia that comes around everyone once and again. It peaked just before un-classy Anthony Weiner finished dead last in that race. The buzz was around his very classy wife, Huma Abedin. Ms. Abedin was a long-time aide to Hillary Clinton — from the time Mrs. Clinton was First Lady, through her Senate tenure, and then as Secretary of State.
Typically, this nostalgia affects those of us who either miss the politics of the Clinton 1990s, or professionally came of age then. The trigger is usually a story about a high-level political operative or appointee doing this or that. The subsequent two or three news cycles will follow along, and go something like this, more or less:
1. Person A did important, relevant news item B.
2. Person A was once the blank in the Clinton Administration and was widely regarded as blank.
3. Person A is expected to do blank now… and may/may not be involved in the Hillary Clinton campaign for president.
The New York City tabloids are doing their level-best to keep the buzz going — and as usual, they have embarrassed themselves.
These nostalgia moments are becoming more frequent. (We noticed this pattern with the announcement of Gene Sperling’s White House departure as well.)
This week, we have the must-read — but ultimately anti-climatic — piece from The New Republic on Doug Band, the former body man for the former president. Band, who hails from Sarasota, has his own title of “president” now, of the very impressive global company called Teneo.
Here is the big news writer Alec MacGillis went to a lot of trouble to “break”: Doug Band may have used his years-long connection to Bill Clinton to help build up his business!
Someone get the smelling salts.
I realize you are as shocked — shocked! — as I am that someone who spent their early career in Washington, DC, carrying around the bags of the leader of the free world, and later, helping him create his foundation and global philanthropic work might actually do anything remotely political. Heaven forfend.
Don’t get me wrong: I have personally been on the receiving end of the wrath of Doug Band. It wasn’t fun.
In 2002, I found myself in Sarasota, Florida, managing a congressional campaign for what is now the old 13th Congressional District. It was a tough primary — five folks on the Democratic side — and just a tough race all the way around. Congressman Dan Miller was retiring, and Katherine Harris was the presumptive GOP nominee (she had a nominal primary challenger). My candidate, Jan Schneider, was (and still is) a smart, capable attorney with a Ph.D. as well. She had gone to Yale Law School with both Clintons and had volunteered her legal services to the disastrous Florida recount of 2000 on behalf of Team Gore.
Running against the Wicked Witch of Florida politics.
Friends with the Clintons.
Smart — knew everything about every issue…
I made a terrible assumption that given those circumstances, the money would flow into the campaign like a river. After all, who wouldn’t want to beat Katherine Harris! She was everything Democrats despised.
And yet we were alone. Even the local Democrats wouldn’t endorse in the primary.
The low moment came for me sitting in a Taco Bell, eating terrible fast food, sipping a Pepsi, and having Doug Band call my cell phone from New York. I answered, and he started with screaming. How dare I tell anyone that the Clintons would support Jan! They were NOT coming to Florida for her!
I don’t know that Jan or I ever told anyone that either Bill or Hillary Clinton would come to Florida to campaign for her. Maybe they should have.
Or maybe not. The old 13th — that included DeSoto and Hardee County — was a heavily Republican district. And Democrats ended up with Katherine Harris, Member of Congress, and a pretty awful Member of Congress at that. She was a punchline for her tenure there, and capped off her political career with a disastrous run for the United States Senate.
I left the campaign in 2002 just before Jan won the primary. She went on to lose in the general, badly, but not as badly as people thought.
I can’t read a single word about Doug Band without hearing his shrill scream in my ear.
And yet, I’m not bitter. He was doing his job, I was doing mine.
Hillary is certainly running. The story is not so much a “scandal” at “Clinton, Inc.,” as that Band is effectively out, and Chelsea, her father and her mother are managing the image. Perhaps we’ll see how they do when it’s time for the next wave of nostalgia.