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June 25th, 2017

Insight

Time For Another Bush-Clinton Bonding? This Time, Dubya Mentoring Hillary

Bill Whalen

By Bill Whalen

Published May 30, 2017

Hillary Clinton doesn't lack for attention these days.

Last week, she delivered a commencement address at her college alma mater (Wellesley, Class of 1969).

She's working on another book - when it comes out later this year, her third in three years.

And she's launched Onward Together, a political organization whose stated purpose is to "encourage people to organize, get involved, and run for office".

But despite all the activity, there is an obvious discontent to Mrs. Clinton's existence.

She tries to make light of what happened last fall. Then, as she did in the Wellesley commencement, she quickly goes to the dark side - before her graduating audience, whose parents can barely remember Watergate, trying to make Donald Trump this generation's Nixon.

Earlier in May, she did something similar - dropping by the Women for International Women Luncheon in Manhattan and launching into discourse on how she was a victim of bad conspiratorial timing: "If the election had been held on October 27, I'd be your president, and it wasn't. It was on October 28."

As such, it suggests that Hillary Clinton has not found an inner peace despite the long walks in the woods. Think presidential hopeful Tracy Flick telling you she's fine with the surprise hand dealt her in her race ("no, didn't bother me at all").

Here's a suggestion for Mrs. Clinton: hop a plane to Texas and spend some quality with an individual who held the job you've long coveted - former President George W. Bush.

It wouldn't be the first pairing of a Clinton and a Bush. Every year, Bill Clinton makes a sojourn to Houston to check in with the man he defeated back in 1992 - George H.W. Bush.

Theirs is a relationship both public and private. The two ex-presidents have teamed up on Asian tsunami relief and help for Hurricane Katrina victims.

Behind closed doors, there may be a father-son dynamic (Clinton was born 44 days after George W., the oldest of George & Barbara Bush's offspring). "'[My] brother by another mother,' the boys call him," Barbara Bush has said of Clinton. "But he's very nice - I think he thinks of George as the father he never had. Truthfully. I mean that as a compliment. He's been very thoughtful about calling and he's a good fellow."

Not that Hillary Clinton should be looking to become a sister from another mother, but there are four things she could learn from the 43rd President.

He's At Peace. Watch this video of Bush's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel's show earlier his year. He's relaxed, comfortable, mixes it up with Kimmel and his sidekick, and doesn't have a bad word to say about anyone - even when Kimmel tries to get him to take a poke at Donald Trump.

History's full of presidents who struggled in their post-White House years. Lyndon Johnson, for example, went into seclusion at his Texas ranch. Bush 43, the other Texas president, isn't in the same funk.

He Has A Hobby. For Bush it's painting, which he said he took up after noticing Winston Churchill did the same. Bush started at it in 2009, hiring an art teacher to help him channel his "inner Rembrandt".

"It keeps me active, so I'm not on the couch chewing potato chips all the time," Bush told "Today" host Matt Lauer. "It's one of the great learning experiences."

Bush's artwork first became know when his sister's email account was hacked back in 2013. Since then, he's been more public about sharing his pastime.

Other than the woodsy strolls, perhaps Mrs. Clinton likewise can find an artistic outlet - painting, ceramics, woodwork, macramé - something to help her let go of those campaign demons.

He Has A Cause (That's Not Self-Serving). Why was Bush on Jimmy Kimmel Live? To promote his book: Portraits In Courage: A Commander In Chief's Tribute To America's Warriors.

The book features 66 of his oil paintings of American servicemen and women he's personally, each with a write-up of the individual's injury and recovery. All proceeds go to Bush's Military Service Initiative, which helps post-9/11 veterans transition to civilian life.

Here's a look at some of Bush's post-presidential philanthropic work - perhaps most notably, addressing HIV/AIDS and malaria in Africa and the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Initiative to fight cervical and breast in Africa and Latin America.

Not that encouraging individuals to politically organize and run for office should be dismissed, but it's not quite the noble pursuit as what George and Laura Bush have been up to.

Put bluntly: Mrs. Clinton should affix her name and clout to a cause other than getting like-minded Democrats elected.

He's Not A Money-Grubber. Bush 43 is no stranger to the honoraria circuit. But he's done it quietly and with less eye-popping numbers (low six-figures).

Nor has there been anything like the quid-pro-quo stench attached to Clinton moneymaking ventures (think selling uranium supplies to Russia, foreign governments donating to the Clinton Foundation).

Since 2001 and Bill Clinton's departure from office through May of last year, the two Clintons reportedly have hauled in $153 million by giving 729 speeches. Yes, $153 million.

Even if they lost half of that fortune to taxes and wardrobe and downloading iTunes movies for long flights, that's still $3 million a year if they invested the sum in, say, tax-free muni bonds. To paraphrase Bud Fox in Wall Street, that's enough to get you to first base in the Big Apple.

Mrs. Clinton shouldn't be looking to Bush 43 for investment advice. But he could teach her a thing or two about cashing in on the office at a respectful pace, without much public fanfare, and with little question of dubious ethics.

Add it up: a hobby, a cause, a more dignified pursuit of the almighty dollar and inner peace.

Too bad Hillary didn't get such Bush-league advice years ago.

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Bill Whalen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he studies and writes on current events and political trends. In citing Whalen as one of its "top-ten" political reporters, The 1992 Media Guide said of his work: "The New York Times could trade six of its political writers for Whalen and still get a bargain." During those years, Whalen also appeared frequently on C-SPAN, National Public Radio, and CNBC.

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