On Nov. 3, MSG promised the "hottest ticket in political history." Lincoln/Douglas, move over. The Clinton/Bush session was pitched as a chance for participants to step out of the “spin room and provide attendees with a courtside seat to an uncensored, unedited and completely unpredictable live event.”
Clinton would likely be grilled on HillaryCare, right-wing conspiracy, Somalia, Lewinsky, impeachment, Middle East peace and the half-hearted pursuit of Osama bin Ladin. Bush would undoubtedly face questions about Florida 2000, unnecessary war in Iraq, Gitmo, torture, CheneyRule, roll back of Constitutional protections, cronyism, global warming, lack of energy policy, Katrina and rampant deregulation that put the financial system on the brink of collapse.
In the announcement, MSG Entertainment president Melissa Miller Ormond said that her company is proud to “bring these highly charged and relevant political events to Radio City Music Hall during one of the most exciting and, at times, controversial political landscapes of our time.” She got that right. High-rollers ($1,250 tickets) were promised a cocktail reception and photo-ops with the former Presidents. It was to be a night in political junkie heaven. And then the plug was pulled.
It seems our tender leaders were a bit taken back by the hype surrounding the event. Were their heads in the sand? Bush barely visited New York City during his eight years in office. The curiosity factor to see Bush in action was enough to encourage people to fork over $60 for a “cheap seat.” The joint appearance is very notable during a time when Democrats and Republicans can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on anything in Washington. A Clinton/Bush session may have inspired more civil discourse on Capitol Hill.
Some suspect Dubya dropped out due to cold feet, chilled by the realization that he would have had his clock cleaned by smooth talking Slick Willie. I don’t buy that at all. Bush held his own in Presidential debates against Al Gore, who has appeared in the MSG program, and John Kerry. He would have done Texas proud against Clinton, whom once praised Bush as a “formidable politician.”
In bailing out, Clinton spokesperson Mark McKenna told CNN the event was supposed to be a “moderated conversation with no fireworks.” We’ll take it.
A moderator like Charlie Rose or Bob Schieffer would ensure a lively evening. Reconsider guys.
Or even better, how about holding the get-together at Madison Square Garden? The “world’s most famous arena”seats 20,000. Or better still, delay for a spring fling at either Citi Field (45,000) or Yankee Stadium (57,000).
Wherever you meet, you are bound to fill the house.