Wow. That’s all I can think to say right now, just….wow.
ROME, April 7 – Flying into Rome as a guest passenger on what used to be his airplane, Air Force One, Bill Clinton had this to say about Pope John Paul II, even in death, “The man knows how to build a crowd.”
At lunchtime on Thursday, at the foot of the famed Spanish steps about two miles from St. Peter’s Basilica, Mr. Clinton proved that he still knows a bit about that art, too.
Clearly unwilling to spend a beautiful day in Rome cooped up in his hotel, he went for a midday stroll, stopping in at a few of the luxury shops on the narrow, cobblestone streets off the square, known for its fountain and familiar to film buffs as the backdrop for a scene in “Roman Holiday.”
While Romans were unlikely to catch a glimpse of President Bush – he moved only in motorcades and appeared only at a few official events – Mr. Clinton was clearly reveling in the fact that shoppers, tourists having lunch at outdoor cafes and Italian business people walking to meetings all stopped to greet him.
“Isn’t this a great city?” he said. Along the streets, people starting yelling “Bill, Bill, Bill,” and a few shouted “U.S.A.!” One shopkeeper raced out with a photograph of Mr. Clinton on a past visit.
Between handshakes and waves, the former president, looking thin, said that he was feeling good after two operations on his heart, but that he tired easily and planned to go back to his hotel for a rest – a change from the way he used to tour cities. He reminisced about his long walking tours of the backstreets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, during the last long foreign trip of his presidency. “You go around the world and you see a lot of affection for Americans,” he said.
There was certainly a lot of affection for Mr. Clinton, who consistently got better press here during his presidency than Mr. Bush does.
Is there no event either so grave or so frivolous, so meaningful or so trivial, that these ass-smooching liberal journalists won’t turn it into yet another opportunity to pucker up for their beloved Saint Bill? I mean, Gawdalmighty. You can’t help but be embarrassed a bit, not only for the writer who managed to type this between sated murmurs of gratitude for the Arkansas pud in his mouth, but for the editor who thought “Hey, just what we needed to round out our coverage of the Pope’s funeral!” Sheesh.