It's catch as catch can on Clinton campaign trail

ROGER SIMON

April 13, 1992|By ROGER SIMON

Campaign Notebook:

AND THEN HE WASHED HIS HANDS OF THE PRESS . . .

There are three rules for the traveling press corps: Sit down whenever you can. Eat whenever you can. Go to the bathroom whenever you can.

So during a campaign stop in New York one day, a reporter hurries into a bathroom to exercise Rule Three, when who should walk in and occupy the station next to him but Bill Clinton.

Now it is not easy to get a private moment with Bill Clinton these days. While the Secret Service is chiefly there to guard against assassination (or at least catch the guy afterwards), they are also used to keep the press away from the candidate.

So the reporter briefly debates with himself the propriety of what he is about to do and then, as usual, propriety loses and he looks over at Clinton and says: "So what do you think of Israeli settlements on the West Bank?

And Clinton starts thinking of a reply that will satisfy both the Jewish voters of New York and the needs of U.S. foreign policy and, finally, he hits on it.

@4 "I don't give interviews in washrooms," he says.

I THOUGHT HE SAID VICTROLA . . .

On his way down the aisle to deliver a speech, Jerry Brown saw Mark Shields, the syndicated columnist and TV commentator, sitting in the audience and paused to take issue with one of his columns.

Leaning over him, Brown said: "Don't analogize me to Savonarola. He was burnt. This campaign is Ignatius vs. Martin Luther."

L So here's the new game: Can you translate that into English?

It took me only several trips to the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) was a priest and reformer who preached boldly against the abuses of church and government and eventually was tortured, hanged and burnt.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) began life as a ne'er do well, who liked wine, women, and song. But he underwent a profound transformation, became a priest, dedicated his life to austerity and denial and founded the Society of Jesus.

(At 18, Jerry Brown decided to become a priest and entered a Jesuit seminary, where he spent his days in prayer, study, physical labor and almost total silence. After about three years, he left for the University of California at Berkeley.)

Martin Luther (c. 1483-1546) was the German theologian and religious reformer who began the Reformation and split the Catholic Church.

So in that one comment to Shields, Jerry Brown managed to pack in quite a sophisticated historical allusion.

But Shields' comment after Brown continued on his way is also instructive: "I never analogized him to Savonarola!"

*

GREAT MOMENTS IN DEMOCRACY . . .

Bill Clinton: "Bubba is Southern for mensch."

Jerry Brown: "If you want to know, do I go out with girls? Yes, I do. You want their names and their phone numbers?"

Jacques Barzaghi, Brown campaign guru, describing Bill Clinton Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times: "The groom on top of the wedding cake. He looks like he sleeps with a hairnet."

Jacques Barzaghi explaining why, after three years of living in the Australian rain forest, he left: "Too much rain."

William Kristol, Dan Quayle's chief of staff, responding to Bill Clinton's pledge that he would keep a strictly kosher kitchen in the White House: "Why hasn't he done that in Arkansas?"

*

THE WAGS ON THE BUS . . .

Two possible fall campaign slogans for Bill Clinton, as suggested by his traveling press corps:

* "I never held up a liquor store!"

* "Even Eisenhower fooled around!"

*

STOP ME BEFORE I TELL THIS ONE AGAIN . . .

A gunman leaps from the shadows and confronts a frightened citizen.

"Who's gonna win the Democratic nomination?" the gunman demands. "Clinton or Brown?"

The citizen thinks for a moment and then shrugs. "Aww, just go ahead and shoot," he says.

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