The current New Yorker magazine carries an intriguing...


May 27, 1994

The current New Yorker magazine carries an intriguing profile of First Lady Hillary Clinton, who is using that role in new and powerful ways. The same issue carries tributes to a pace-setting First Lady of another era, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Here is a reminiscence from Clark Clifford, long a player in the Democratic Party:

"In the first dream months of the Kennedy presidency, Mrs. Kennedy suggested that I come over for lunch. She said that she had been thinking about what her goals should be as First Lady. And she had decided what she wanted to do. She said, 'I wish to make the White House into the First House in the Land' -- from the standpoint of its furnishings, its paintings, the rugs on the floor. And nobody had ever approached it that way before. At that time, it was really pretty drab.

"I remember there was a Daniel Webster desk that she had to have. The furniture she wanted was, in the main, Early American. We had a committee, and she would call up one of the members -- they were wealthy members -- when she found something she wanted, as she did when she found the desk. And she would say to the member, I wonder if you would be the donor. The member usually said yes.

"There's a story -- I don't know if it's true or not. At one point, maybe at the end of their first year, she said there should be a portrait of Benjamin Franklin in the White House. And then she found out there were only two portraits available. One was not for sale, the other was. So she called Walter Annenberg, who owned the painting, and she said, 'Mr. Annenberg, you are the leading citizen of Philadelphia and that's why I'm turning to you -- because we need in the White House a portrait of the man who in his day was the leading citizen of Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin. Don't you think that a great Philadelphia citizen should give the White House the portrait of another great Philadelphia citizen?' Annenberg said he would think it over, but who could resist such an appeal. He called back quickly to say the White House could have the painting. He never mentioned that it had cost him $250,000."

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