Jewish World Review May 27, 2003 / 25 Iyar, 5763
Hitchens & Blumenthal, together again; He still believes in a man called Hope
http://www.jewishworldreview.com | WASHINGTON Four years have elapsed since former Bill Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal and Washington opinion-monger Christopher Hitchens abruptly ended their close friendship. Hitchens had sworn out an affidavit to the House Republican impeachment managers implying that Blumenthal had lied to investigators. It was Topic A in the nation's capital for the requisite 15 minutes. Now they're talking again, in a manner of speaking.
In his new book, "The Clinton Wars," Blumenthal "tells" Hitchens that he's a drunken betrayer. And in his review of the 822-page book, Hitchens "tells" Blumenthal he's a servile apparatchik.
"I don't think I will or could ever forget the transformation," Hitchens writes for the July issue of The Atlantic Monthly, describing a fateful March 1998 lunch at the Occidental Grill during which -- Hitchens and wife Carol Blue allege -- Blumenthal tried to feed them dirt, direct from the president, on Lewinsky and other Clinton paramours. "Where was my witty if sometimes cynical, clever if sometimes dogmatic, friend? In his place seemed to be someone who had gone to work for John Gotti."
Blumenthal gives an entirely different version of the lunch. "As we ate and drank, they laughed and laughed. Tell us more, what happened then?" Blumenthal recounts. "It was impressive how anyone could be so lubricated and articulate. . . . My mistake had been to think that he was a harmless entertainer. The surprise was that he was capable of doing harm without conscience or regret."
HASTA LA VISTA, BABY!
Don't think that the government of Fidel Castro is depressed just because the United States expelled seven of its Washington-based operatives on suspicion of espionage last week. Dagoberto Rodriguez, chief of the Cuban Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy, put on a happy face during a raucous fiesta.
"We have invited you here today for a party," Rodriguez announced to a crowd largely composed of American sympathizers. "For any of us here at the interests section to return to our beautiful island is a moment of joy." The crowd burst into a rousing chant of "Cuba, si Bush, no!" There were plenty of mint-laced mojitos , Havana Club rum, roast piglet, yuca, and black beans and white rice, plus those always-welcome cigars. "Please enjoy the Cuban dinner prepared by 'spies,' " Rodriguez announced, and everyone dug in without benefit of a taster.
HE STILL BELIEVES IN A MAN CALLED HOPE
"Bob Hope was always a god of mine," Dick Cavett told us before emceeing a celebration of Hope's 100th birthday at the Library of Congress last week. "I first saw him in Lincoln, Nebraska. I was probably in junior high, and he was appearing in a variety show in a Hitlerian-sized coliseum at the university.
"I was sitting next to my friend Lyle Burke in seats so high that we could basically just see figures on the stage. And then Hope glided out, and I thought, 'Oh my G-d, it's really him.' After the show, I wanted to see if he actually would have to leave the place like an ordinary human being. I saw him come down some steps before getting into a car with two gorgeous showgirls. I said, 'Fine show, Bob.' And he glanced at me and said, 'Thanks, son.' That made the rest of my year."
Cavett -- who decades later, as the host of his network talk show, got to know Hope personally -- added: "That fabulous personality just leapt off the stage. And he had grace. He was the Fred Astaire of comedy."
"I never talk about my personal life. I don't even discuss it with the person I'm dating." -- New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, dodging our question about whether she and "The West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin are an item