Anything you want to hear just ask Bill Clinton

ROGER SIMON

September 18, 1992|By ROGER SIMON

LOS ANGELES -- What do Barbra Streisand, inner-city blacks and middle-class Latinos have in common?

Not a heck of a lot. Except that Bill Clinton wants them all.

And on a single day this week, he went after them all. The old fashioned way: By promising them the sun and the moon and the stars.

In the morning, to a black crowd in riot-scarred South Central Los Angeles, Clinton promised a $6 billion community development plan.

In the afternoon, to a Latino crowd in the comfortable suburb of Baldwin Park, east of Los Angeles, Clinton promised a national trust fund so that "anybody" could go to college.

And in the evening, to Barbra Streisand, singing in concert for the first time in six years to raise money for Clinton, well, what can anyone promise Barbra Streisand?

Listen to what she wants: "You see," she told a reporter, "if you don't feel loved as a child, you spend your life trying to get that love. It's everybody's birthright to be loved."

So, Barbra, sweetie, doll, let me tell you something:

Bill Clinton loves ya', baby!

You keep raising $1.1 million a night for the Democrats like you did Wednesday night, and he'll not only love you, he'll make you ambassador to France.

Streisand sang at a fund raiser in Beverly Hills at the estate of Ted Field, department store heir, movie producer and big Democratic contributor. Typically, the semi-mysterious Field maintained a low-profile at the event, preferring to let the movie stars wander over his 44 acres and sit behind sawhorses as they watched Streisand, Tammy Wynette and others sing on a makeshift stage. (Sawhorses? Did they expect this kind of crowd to try to grab Streisand's shoe as a souvenir?)

Field's house is 36,000-square feet, so vast, in fact, that one obvious solution to the housing crisis in South Central Los Angeles must have occurred to Clinton:

He simply could have invited all the poor people who came out to his morning rally to come to live at the site of his evening rally. After all, 36,000 square feet isn't a home, it's a zip code.

Instead, Clinton offered promises to the poor, in a speech that clocked in at significantly more than a million dollars a minute.

"I do not want to win this election to change my address and go to Camp David on weekends," Clinton told the black crowd at the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center. "I want to change your life!"

Clinton wants to do this with massive federally-funded programs that would provide, among other things, special savings accounts for welfare recipients under which the government would provide up to $1,800 a year in matching funds.

"People want independence, not dependence," Clinton said. "They want a hand up, not a hand out. Don't you know we would reduce the racial tensions in this community and we would diminish the tension between rich and poor if people thought if they worked hard and played by the rules they could get ahead?"

Clinton then motored over to the San Gabriel Valley, about 25 minutes east of downtown Los Angeles, to be greeted by a mariachi band.

"If you vote for Bill Clinton and Al Gore, we will set up a national trust fund and anybody will be able to go to college," Clinton told the crowd. "That represents a real family value in the Latino community and in the United States!"

And then, as dusk fell, Clinton traveled to Beverly Hills to tell a galaxy of stars: "I have seen your movies and sung your songs . . . I have always aspired to be in the cultural elite that others condemn."

They laughed. He laughed.

"I want you to do more than write a check," he then told the people who had already written checks of from $1,000 to $2,500 to get in the gates. "I want you to write a new future for America. I want you to be part of that."

And with that, Clinton cannily acknowledged what the Hollywood stars really want: They want to matter. They realize that what they do for a living is mostly fluff and fantasy. But in their real lives, they want to know they count.

And Bill Clinton was willing to tell them that they did. Bill Clinton was willing to give them what they wanted.

All day, every day, Bill Clinton is willing to tell the people, no matter who they are or where they live, exactly what they want to hear.

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