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royal flush special

by Charlie Finch  

Clinton and friend

1993 White House Christmas Card

   Looking for insight into President Clinton's psyche, Royal Flush interviewed reporter Nina Burleigh, who has published numerous profiles of the President and First Lady in Time magazine.

Burleigh told us, "I was invited to ride on the presidential plane for a fund-raising trip to Philadelphia. A call went out on the p.a. -- Clinton needed a fourth to play hearts. Even though I hadn't played since I was 12, I agreed to do it." Burleigh is a fetching, extremely sharp and worldly 35-year-old brunette from Chicago.

"Instantly I felt Clinton's eyes go up and down my body -- it didn't stop. Clinton has an ongoing rap going with his sidekick Bruce Lindsey. They play hearts very fast.

"It's the perfect game for Clinton. Because it has a lot of risk, you have to get everybody else's cards, Shoot the Moon to win big, or you lose everything. When I played slowly, Clinton egged me on mercilessly. His eyes never left my body."

In spite of her 15-year-career and respect among fellow journalists on the White House beat, Burleigh told us, "I was very tempted. He's the most powerful man in the world."

When asked where the Secret Service were in all of this, Burleigh replied, "In the back of the plane, eating pizza." Apparently the president keeps them at arm's length.

Burleigh also interviewed Hillary Rodham Clinton extensively on other occasions.

"I'm from Chicago just like her so I instantly recognized the type. She comes from a middle-class Goldwater Republican household -- she's always relentlessly social-climbing. At first I was one of her favorites because of the Chicago connection, but the minute I wrote one negative thing it was over."

Congratulations to Tom Krens for his usual impeccable timing. Mrs. Clinton will be the honorary chair of the Guggenheim Museum's "China 5,000" show, opening on Feb. 5.

CHARLIE FINCH is the New York editor of Coagula Art Journal and has coauthored the forthcoming Most Art Sucks from Smart Art Press.