The Scene is room is 312 at the Motel Six on Pa. Route 44 just outside Scranton. It is the summer of 2009. Former President Bill Clinton is leaning forward off of one of the twin beds facing Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), who is seated uneasily in a small chair at the table.
The former president has come at the behest of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to convince Sestak to drop his primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania’s newly minted Democrat. The air conditioner unit is gently rattling in the background.
“Joe, we can make life very, very good for you.”
“Mr. President, I just don’t know if this is appropriate.”
“Of course this is appropriate. Would I be involved if it was something not appropriate?”
Sestak looks at Clinton at realizes he’s not being ironic.
“OK, but just hear me out,” Clinton continues. “Rahm has a sweet deal in mind. You won’t even believe this when you hear it: Drop your candidacy, and Obama will appoint you to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.”
“The President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. Yup, the PIAB, baby.”
“The Presidents Advisory . . . ”
“The President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.”
“What does it do?”
“What does it do?? It’s the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.”
“OK, but what does it actually do?”
“I don’t know. I never met with it when I was president. But let me tell you, it sounds very impressive to chicks and will completely blow people away at cocktail parties.”
“Well, I’m pretty busy as a Congressman, I mean – ”
“Oh, don’t worry, it’s just one of those bullshit committees that produces a report every twelve months that no one reads. But as bullshit committees go, it’s the top.”
There’s a knock on the door. Sestak looks stunned. Clinton calmly heads across the room and opens it up.
“Hey, this is on Rahm. He thought you might be hungry,” Clinton says
“A turkey club sandwich. Um . . . thanks Mr. President. You sure I can’t pay?”
“Don’t sweat it. Enjoy.”
“Hi, how is your stay with us? Are you finding everything alright? Do you need ice? The machine is down . . . ”
“Thank you,” interjects Clinton, looking at the bill. “What, $42 for club sandwich?”
“You know, hotel prices. You ordered the Super Duper Triple Decker Turkey Club, yes?”
“This is not the fucking Ritz Carlton.”
“Listen Mr. Clinton. I don’t set the prices, but I can have the manager come up and explain to you our policies.”
“No, please, here, just get out. I mean, thank you.”
“OK. Enjoy the rest of your stay with us and if there’s . . . ”
“Please get out.”
As the waiter departs Sestak is shaking his head.
“Mr. President of course I guess I’m honored by your offer, but I really just feel it’s my obligation to serve the people of Pennsylvania, and that being senator is the best way to do it.”
“Oh cut the horseshit Joe. Alright listen. Rahm expected you might be a fucking boy scout about his, so he has authorized me to up the ante. There is a position that might be opening up directly in the White House in a few months. The person in it is incompetent and Rahm wants someone with your military background and attention to detail.”
“Well, um, OK, that sounds kind of interesting. Maybe it would be another way to serve. What is it?”
“White House Social Secretary.”