Forget 'renewal' talk, it's the sax that says 'new generation'

MIKE LITTWIN

January 22, 1993|By MIKE LITTWIN

Don't let anyone tell you there's not a dime's bit of difference between the Democrats and Republicans.

As an example, here's how you knew for sure this wasn't the Eisenhower inauguration: I'm watching the MTV ball. And one of the MTV floor "reporters" is interviewing somebody whose name I believe is Jellybean and who may have once dated Madonna. The "reporter" asks Jellybean, as who wouldn't, "What song was it that got Teddy Kennedy's big butt boogeying out there on the dance floor?"

I was too stunned to hear the answer.

Change?

You betcha. Later, Don Henley is leading a sing-along, "Senators, congressmen, now please heed the call/Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall," and all the senators and congressmen attending the MTV bash were asked to leave. OK, they weren't really asked to leave. But you see the irony here, don't you? (They didn't, which is why they're in Congress.) We've reached the evolutionary point wherein senators and congressmen actually want their MTV.

It's a new day. You feel different. You feel renewed -- renewal having officially replaced change as the Clintonian byword. There's a little spring in your step. You have to feel good.

Why not? Nobody asked you to sing with Roger Clinton.

The inauguration was a beauty. Billy Graham was there, as he has been at every inauguration since Franklin Pierce's. The First Family looked great. Al Gore, as someone remarked, looked amazingly lifelike. George Bush looked on in the nice, grandfatherly way that he will adopt in his new life, which we can now call his retirement mode.

Then the new president, to the shock of everyone who has ever known him, gave the shortest speech since he was in the fourth grade (little Billy's topic: How to Clean Erasers and Not Hurt the Ozone Layer). The inaugural poem, if no more memorable than the speech, was also short. It was like they all had decided they just wanted to get on with the parties.

First, though, they had the parade, featuring your basic precision-lawn-chair band as well as some chain-saw jugglers. Maybe next time they can work together. Of course, Elvis impersonators were everywhere. Hey, isn't it time for an Elvis moratorium? I think we've also had a little too much of "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," a song nobody really likes. Maybe the best news from the whole day was that Fleetwood Mac has re-disunited, if that's a word.

The best part of the parade was Bill and Hillary out on the boulevard, doing the man-and-woman-on-the-street bit. I liked them later dancing at the balls. They've got what a certain former president used to call vigor. You try keeping up with his schedule. And, also, I guess you noticed, Bill's hair never moved.

Some people said there were too many parties, that the Democrats were going a little overboard. I didn't think so. There's a lot of pent-up energy for the guys who have been out of office since Jimmy Carter, who really didn't believe in partying anyway.

The only time I felt maybe things were getting out of hand was when I saw Maria Shriver interviewing Roger Clinton, the First Brother. I confess to a feeling in the pit of my stomach that someday all three networks will be doing movies of the week about him.

Brother Roger, as you may have heard, is a singer. He just signed a record deal, which may -- and I'm just guessing -- have something to do with one of his relatives. I caught his act. It's not that he was terrible, but I think you'd be more inclined to wear Hillary's hat than buy one of his records.

Asked how he felt to see his brother sworn in, Roger said it was pretty much the same feeling as when he sang at the MTV ball. Huh? Billy Carter, call your service.

Certainly, the family is musical. And though Bill is not as hip as some would suggest -- one music critic has correctly noted that the president's tastes run pretty much to lite rock of the forgettable '70s variety -- he does play more than a passable sax. And is there a hipper instrument anywhere than the saxophone?

Bill "Big Man" Clinton played "Your Momma Don't Dance (and Your Daddy Don't Rock and Roll)" at one of the balls. It was not simply a good moment. The song said more than he could ever say in any speech about a challenge to a new generation. Clinton is the new generation, just like the song said. He dances. He rocks and rolls.

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