UK IT HUMi:
HE LONG political odyssey ofBill Clinton seemed to pass amilestone of sorts, as he vaca-tioned here on Martha's Vineyard withhis wife and daughter. The frenziedpace of his first six months in ofRce,to nearly everyone's surprise, juststopped. Mr. Clinton seemed suddenlyto realize that the nation and theworld could get along for days, evenweeks at a time without any action byhim, and, perhaps even more surpris-ingly, without any comment from him.He shut down and shut up.The press corps that follows himeverywhere caught glimpses of him,mostly through the TV pictures shoteach day of his vacation activities.They were the images of a man ruddyfrom the sun and relaxed from therest. He was doing none of what he isthought best at: thinking out loudabout any and every policy issue be-fore the nation. Ironically, he neverseemed more likable and appealing.
Mr. Hume is chief White House correspond-ent for ABC News.
There was something unmistakablycomforting about seeing the Presidentacting like a normal person on vaca-tion. It's hard to tell if it was more ofa relief to see him being left alone orto have him leave the rest of us alone.His most quotable comment of theweek was "Whoa, Mama," shouted athis golf ball from a tee at the FarmNeck Country Club. Shades of GeorgeBush? Not really, not when the mostconspicuous member of the foursome,besides Mr. Clinton
was Ver-non Jordan, late of the Urban Leagueand, despite his standing as a big-timeWashington lawyer, a shield againstany charge that the populist Presidenthad gone high-hat on his holiday.The choice of Martha's Vineyard,late as it was, seems in retrospect tohave been inspired. It may be the oneplace in America Mr. Clinton could gowitbout any danger of running intoanti-tax protestors, anti-abortion pro-testors, or anti-gay protestors. TheVineyard is a redoubt of Sixties liber-alism; even the island's one radio sta-tion plays mostly the music of thatera. The waitress—pardon me, wait-person—who attended the Presidentand his party at the fabled Black DogTavern said she had marched onWashington but had never before meta President. She was thrilled. So wasnearly everybody else, to judge by themyriad of welcome signs posted allover the place. The only message thathad even a faintly discouraging wordwas nailed to a tree along one of theisland's byways. "Bill," it said, "weknow you're trying."Even the place where Mr. Clintonstayed seemed perfect, the private es-tate of Robert McNamara. Thus theonetime Vietnam War resister man-aged to associate himself with theman who ran the war, without break-ing poiiticai ranks. McNamara ofcourse is a Democrat. Nearly everyonehere seems to be. The curator at theCounty Historical Museum says shewas pressed into service as the Repub-lican registrar of voters because "thelast Republican on the island whocould write died last year." That maybe an exaggeration, but not by much.This is, after all, the vacation home ofsuch luminaries as Carly Simon,James Taylor, William Styron, JulesFeiffer, Art Buchwald, Katharine Gra-ham, Sheldon Hackney, JacquelineKennedy Onassis, and Spike Lee. Notmany Dittoheads in that group. Suchpeople may not be easily impressed,but one senses that they would all begiddy if
Clinton chose to make thisthe site of his summer White House.They certainly gave the Presidentthe full treatment. Mrs. Graham hadhim over twice, and Mrs. Onassis tookhim out for a luncheon cruise on a 70-foot yacht owned by her beau, MauriceTempelsman, the diamond dealer. Af-terward, she entertained him at herhouse. For Mr. CHnton, who dates hispresidential ambitions from the dayhe met JFK in the Rose Garden dur-ing a Boys Nation photo-op, hobnob-bing with his widow must have beengratifying indeed. Alas, the camera-shy Mrs. Onassis did not oblige withthe kinds of consecrating poses withthe President that the White Housewould no doubt have loved. She sentbrother-in-law Ted and boyfriendMaurice out to greet the Clintons onthe pier. "Welcome to Massachusetts,"said Ted heartily. T. R. Reid of the
once described a tu-mescent Ted as having had "an epicu-rean summer." From tbe look of himhere, he's had another one.The summer regulars here, Vine-yarders as they call themselves, do notmerely regard this picturesque islandas a nice place to visit. They share analmost cultish devotion to it as a sortof Nirvana. The
thelocal paper owned by the eminentJames Reston and his family, wentinto rhapsodies tbe day Mr. Clintonarrived. In a welcoming editorial, thepaper said, "This place in the sea be-yond the land offers a special qualityof life, a certain quiet and peace . . .Ten days of vacation at the SummerWhite House is not much time. Butthe Vineyard holds out unimagined re-wards for those who pause longenough to experience the beauty ofthis fragile land." Whew. The paperSEPTEMBER
1993 /NATIONAL REVIEW 29