I was invited to attend a small dinner for President Clinton at a home not far from our own. I arrived there after having some difficulties with police lines. It is astonishing all of the things that have to be done wherever the President goes. I guess that the lady's apartment had to practically be rebuilt for the occasion.
I arrived early so that I could get some idea of the scene before the occasion started. Some other people arrived about the same time. We had pleasant conversation and sat down at one of three tables, made up for 10 each.
A delightful dinner was served. At 9:00 p.m. sharp, in walked the President of the Unite States. We had all been told to stand and push our chairs in. In my excitement I did something to the plate of soup in front of me, and all of a sudden it was all over the tablecloth and dripping onto the floor. However, none of it got on my clothing, or on the dress of the lady sitting next to me. It was quickly cleaned up.
The President came by, and I said the last time we had dinner together was at the Elysee Palace with President Mitterand. I was one chair away from the President and I could hear most of his conversation with others at the table. It seemed to me that he never stopped talking. He was very natural. He's very young looking, showing no wear and tear from the campaign. His hands are very interesting, his fingers long like a musician's or an artist's. I was able to arrange for members of my staff to attend the large dinner they had at the hotel and they concurred in my description. He is a very big man, but he is certainly in good shape.
The dining room windows were draped. They told me that this was done in case someone in another building wanted to take a pot shot. It seems that some guns have a two-mile range. This information did not bother my appetite; having seen the number of policemen downstairs, I concluded that I was dining in the safest spot in San Francisco.
When the dinner was over, the hostess made a presentation to the President and he responded that he would like to take questions from the small audience of 30 people. However, he spoke again for nearly a half an hour without any hesitation at all and with a broad knowledge of every subject on which he touched. I must say that I felt that he was preaching to the choir. Finally he asked for questions again, and I stood up.
I told him that I was a member of the Bohemian Club and that I had just returned from the Bohemian Grove. I told him that he was not held in high regard there, and he made some quip indicating that it was a place he would not go himself. The audience applauded. I said that since I knew that this occasion was to take place, I had questioned people as to what they would say if they could sit down with the President. Most of the people I asked made denigrating remarks, though others took the question seriously, and I said that I would like to pass these remarks on to the President.
First of all, I explained that what I as going to say to him probably couldn't be accomplished before the campaign but should be given some thought once he was elected.
I mentioned that one of the people I spoke to referred to school teachers. The family having fallen to pieces, and the church disintegrating, there was only one person in contact with the youthful population and that was the school teacher on whose head fell the awesome duty of trying to instill precepts of American freedom. The terrible thing is that we pay school teachers less than we pay garbage men.
The second message passed along had to do with the public debt. I said although he could not handle this in his campaign, he should seek innovative methods to handle getting rid of the debt even if it causes some problems to the financial community. I said everyone in the room had benefitted while we were accumulating the debt, as had all the other people in the country. And if they have to suffer during the payoff, so what?
I told him that I had spoken with Henry Kissinger at some length and he'd told me that he had some contact with the President but not any face-to-face conversation. I asked then- Secretary of State Kissinger if he would accept an invitation for a face-to-face conversation with the President and he indicated that although he did not agree with the President, he would certainly welcome such an occasion.
I asked General Haig the same question. He told me he had had several conversations with the President, and that the President had taken his suggestions relative to certain questions of China policy.
I then talked to another general who had some experience with terrorists, who told me that threatening to kill them was no use and that the only thing they could understand by way of punishment was to have the left hand cut off.
I closed by suggesting to the President that when people took him on for his medical plan, they understood that the plan at least described the parameters of the problem, whereas the plan itself was too big to understand, and parts of it were already being implemented.
One of the waiters came up to me before I left and thanked me for saying what I'd said to the President. I thanked him for making my day.