I saw a few news items…
New York Magazine: “After the 2000 campaign, the Clinton-Gore relationship plummeted into a downward spiral. On Gore’s side, there was a bedrock belief that, as one of his friends puts it, “if Clinton hadn’t been impeached, Al Gore would be president and the world would be a different place.” And on Clinton’s side, there was certainty that had Gore been even a modestly competent campaigner, the impeachment wouldn’t have mattered—a view the Clinton people (and Clinton himself) liberally spread around. By the time Clinton and Gore left the White House, each was nurturing such grave resentments that they were no longer speaking.”
Prospect Magazine: “Clinton and Gore patched up their tattered relationship after September 11. Gore’s decision to distance himself from his sponsor during the 2000 campaign because of the Monica Lewinsky mess had created a rift. The tragedy brought about reconciliation. Both men were overseas when the terrorists struck, Clinton in Australia and Gore in Austria. After checking on their families and closest friends, associates say, each had the same compulsion to talk to the other.”
Okay, I thought, there’s drama – but is there a story? Well, I looked into it more. Oh man.
GORE: “I’d just arrived in Vienna on September 11, and when the planes hit the towers, I knew right away it was bin Laden.” Gore’s first thought was to call Tipper; his next was to call Clinton. “When we were in office, there was nothing significant that happened where we didn’t talk very quickly.”
LARRY KING: Did you try to get back home right away?
GORE: Yes, I did. Though they closed the air space. And it took a couple of days. And I finally said, get me anywhere in North America and I’ll do the rest. I flew to Canada and rented a car and started driving south.
LETTERMAN: Tell me about what your day was?
CLINTON: …I was in Australia and I got a call from two former staff members of mine who were in Tribeca and had a clear view of the World Trade Center. Then they called me back as the second plane was hitting and I just blurted out Bin Laden did this. I just knew. President Bush was kind enough to get me a military plane. I flew home.
From the New York Times: “Gore crossed into the United States at Buffalo, where he stopped and donated blood…” At 8:00 pm Bill Clinton called Al Gore’s cell phone. Gore answered Clinton’s call while on the road outside of Buffalo, NY.
GORE: So I was going to drive all night long then Bill Clinton called me on my cell phone, returning a call that I had made to him from Europe. And he said, “Hey, why don’t you stop by the house in Chappaqua?” I got there at 3:00 in the morning. (NYT:“…former president Clinton was napping on his couch waiting for Mr. Gore’s knock on his door.”) And we talked until dawn and then we got on the plane that they had sent for him to go down to Washington.
In those few hours they spent together on September 14th, they fixed their friendship.
It was their first extensive visit since a tense post-election face-off the year before in the final days of the Clinton White House, where the two aired their anger at each other over Gore’s presidential campaign.
The elephant in the room is, of course, Hillary running for President. In one way, it’s all about her.