It is extremely rare to be in the presence of a former U.S. president, especially considering that only five of them still remain. But that is exactly what happened with my wife and I on June the 8th at the Marriot Marquis in Times Square. The event in question was a gala honoring Susan Patricof, the mother of our friend Jamie Patricof, for her thirty-two years of work at the Northside Center in Harlem, a charity which benefits disadvantaged kids. President Clinton was there to present her with an award (see photo) celebrating her service, along with Bill Cosby, Rosie O'Donnell, jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, John Legend, and other assorted heavy hitters.
Whether you love him or loathe him, hate his politics or think him one of the better Presidents, after sitting in the same room with him for an hour and a half (my wife and I were less than five feet from him), one thing is simply undeniable: people are drawn to him in droves. Not just women either; men are determined to shake his hand and bask in his reflected power. At every single break in the program, people would clamor for photos, handshakes, some form of acknowledgement.You see it with every President, especially at the State of the Union addresses, when eager politicians and well-wishers practically hang over the aisles to gladhand our Great Leader and get thisclose to the source of power. With Clinton it was off the charts; he positively reeked of confidence and charisma, but without the Jamie Foxx-esque aura of self- love that is hard to stomach. I have heard similar things about George W., that he has a powerful presence and a certain kind of magnetic pull, but I have never experienced it, so I can't comment.
As for the rest of the event, John Legend was very good (and well received), Rosie O'Donnell was significantly more attractive in person (no joke), and Bill Cosby was acting extremely odd. Seated opposite President Clinton in a rather dark ballroom, he sat rigidly, arms perpetually folded, staring up at the ceiling wearing a jet black pair of sunglasses for the entire night, clapping sporadically while his more animated wife Camille (I kept repeating "Ca-Meeel!" in my mind in my best Cosby voice) thoroughly enjoyed herself.
Oh yeah- and how's this for the power of advertising? Every time I looked at Cosby, every time- I wanted a Jello pudding pop. Swear to God.