Byline: Susan Watters
WASHINGTON — With the election finally over, Washington observers are quick to deliver the prognosis for D.C. society.
“There’s no joy here, and it will become even more joyless,” says Sally Quinn, who predicts plenty of posturing by congressional investigators and special prosecutors before the first Clinton Inaugural Ball. “The atmosphere is very acrimonious and ugly. Republicans want blood, and the media is very hostile and angry because they’ve been stonewalled throughout the campaign.”
With all the departures from the Clinton White House (even George Stephanopoulos wants out), social optimists think a new Clinton cabinet member will emerge to provide some sparkle.
“About the only people I see out now are Donna Shalala, Mac McLarty and Laura Tyson,” says Gahl Burt, Ronald Reagan’s former social secretary.
“If things get worse, the bunker mentality will get worse, too,” says Quinn adding, “If I were Al Gore, I’d hide my head in a fox hole and stay down until the firing stops. He’s the only one who can’t leave.”
On the other hand, Christopher Buckley wonders how much more fun things would have been with a Dole presidency.
“Everyone would have been asleep at 9 p.m.,” he says. “The Clintons strike me as liking to party down, but the social energy tends to get spent in the first term. Second terms aren’t as much fun. They’re full of special prosecutors and the inevitable wearing down. On the other hand, the Clintons are youthful. Maybe it will be interesting to see how Mrs. Clinton manages to Macarena in manacles.”
There’s always the return of Pamela Harriman, Bill Clinton’s ambassador to France, to look forward to.
“If Dick Holbrooke is Secretary of State and Strobe Talbott goes to the White House as head of the National Security Council, then we’ll be seeing a return to dinner parties at Pamela Harriman’s house,” says Burt.
On Capitol Hill, Cokie Roberts expects the Senate to become “a lot less staid” with the arrival of “younger, feistier faces” like Sam Brownback (R., Kan.) and Mary Landrieu (D., La.) “Things will get very rough. There’ll be investigations and counter-investigations. People will be proving points and getting even. This group is less willing to work well and play nicely together. One thing that happens when everyone is mad at each other, they have less fun.”
So what’s a fun-seeker to do? Buckley advises moving to London for the next four years. Arnaud de Borchgrave has his own solution: “For $150,000, you can become a citizen of Saint Kitts. And it’s tax-free.”