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Out of the Woods / Westport beckons as 'Hillaryland' in 2016

Published 7:07 am, Wednesday, April 10, 2013

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  • Hillary Clinton in a 2013 file photo. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, Associated Press / AP
    Hillary Clinton in a 2013 file photo. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, Associated Press

 

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An article by Maureen Dowd on the front page of the Sunday Review in The New York Times this week described "the inevitable, inexorable, inescapable pull of the Clintons."

It reminded me of Hillary Clinton's close ties to many well-to-do Westporters who have held fundraisers in her and her husband's behalf during the past two decades

The visits to our affluent community's wealthy Democrats, filled with deep pockets,first began in 1991, when Ann Sheffer, Westport's influential arts and political playmaker along with her husband Bill Scheffler, volunteered to host a fundraiser at her home for a little known governor of Arkansas by the name of Bill Clinton.

On June 8, 1998, Hillary appeared at a $1,000-per-person Westport fundraiser brunch in her honor at the Bayberry Lane home of Bob and Yvette Rose.

Rose, a Wall Street executive, is a longtime Democratic Party fundraiser and has hosted past Westport fundraisers for President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

A few months later, on Oct. 7, 1998, Hillary attended the Women's Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee to raise funds for her New York senatorial campaign at the Westport home of Sandra Wagenfeld and Fran Goldstein, who hosted 700 guests.

Greeting Hillary enthusiastically on the speaker's platform was First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, who herself went on to a job in Washington as a member of the board of the Import-Export Bank, and has since become executive vice president of the U.S.-India Business Council, overseeing business advocacy and membership service in the important areas of financial services, real estate, and infrastructure development.

Meanwhile, Hillary returned to Westport on Sept. 21, 1999, to attend another fundraiser for her senatorial campaign.

A reception was held at the home of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and co-hosted by Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman, and Martha Stewart.

Dowd's article in Sunday's Times opined: "The Clinton scandals and dysfunction are in the rear view mirror at the moment, and the sluggish economy casts a halcyon glow on the Clinton era, Hillary is a symbol and a survivor, running on sainthood. Ronald Reagan, elected at age 69 was seen as `ancient king' gliding through life, as an aide put it. Hillary, who would be elected at 69, would be seen as ancient queen striding through life."

Questions, of course, remain. While she has proven that she is adept at handling foreign policy matters, nobody really knows how she would act once in the Oval Office. Everybody knows she is strong and decisive. But would she be as inclusive as Barack Obama and surround herself with "rivals" who speak their own minds and give her frank advice? Would she be able to break the log jam in Congress between the two hostile political parties?

She has certainly gained a great deal of stature as a result of her service as secretary of state -- a role in which, it should be noted, Barack Obama gave her virtual unlimited authority. As Dowd expressed it: "The job allowed her to get out of her husband's co-dependent shadow and develop a more authentic aura of inevitability. President Obama allowed his former rival to take Hillaryland into the State Department and then build it out, burnishing her own feminist brand around the world."

Finally, as Dowd expressed it in blatant New York terms: "The real question about Hillary is this: When people take a new look at her in the coming years, will they see the past or the future -- Mrs. Clinton or Madame President?"

In addition, Joe Biden may see himself as Obama's logical successor. Hillary and Joe got along with him famously for years and neither would want to drive an unnecessary wedge in the party. Exit Biden.

On the other hand, there can be a surprise candidate.

Obama has always gone out of his way to repeatedly praise his wife's attributes. Could a "Draft Michelle" movement catch on? Stay tuned.

Woody Klein is a Westport writer. His "Out of the Woods" appears every other Wednesday. He can be reached at woodyklein12@gmail.com.