First Lady Makes Abrupt Exit From Private Club
NEW YORK (AllPolitics, Dec. 11) -- Being first lady of the United States must have its perks, but, depending on who you listen to, an exemption from being thrown out of New York City's exclusive University Club is apparently not one of them.
This much is certain: Mrs. Clinton had just given a speech at the club before a $1,000-a-plate fund-raising luncheon for the Women's Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Forum, and was chatting with New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams at the swanky club.
Adams, the self-proclaimed "first lady of New York Gossip," reported in today's issue that as she and Mrs. Clinton were settling in for some "girltalk," a club employee came over, "bellowed" something about "rules" and told them, "You will have to leave."
The columnist repeated the story to CNN, saying a member of the club came up to where Mrs. Clinton, Adams and some aides were talking and told them they had to leave because their behavior was "abominable."
But according to the White House, the reported incident was no big deal. Mrs. Clinton's press secretary, Marcia Berry, said, "it was a small incident that was blown out of proportion."
White House Deputy Press Secretary Joe Lockhart, travelling with President Bill Clinton in Florida, said, "[The president and first lady] share the view that this is much ado about nothing."
Lockhart explained that while Mrs. Clinton was on her way out when she stopped to chat with Adams, and a photographer took their picture. The spokesman says club officials apparently objected to the picture-taking so Mrs. Clinton continued with her exit.
In response to an inquiry about the incident, one of the University Club's staff told CNN Thursday that "they were very happy to have Mrs. Clinton here yesterday and other than that we have no comment."
Adam's More Colorful Account
But in her "Old Coot Gives Hill & Me the Boot" cover story for today's Post, Adams provides a more colorful account that includes plenty of mocking of the once all-male establishment, categorizing it as a "forbidding pile of old bricks on 54th and Fifth" where "the average age of the members is deceased."
Adams' violation of a rule against the use of a cellular phone on the premises put her on shaky footing with the attendant of the private room she was assigned, who the gossip queen dubbed the "sculpture" for his pale and unmoving presence.
After this initial run-in, the first lady arrived. As they were the only people, besides the "sculpture," in the room, the two women greeted each other effusively. In Adams' words: "It was cheery, gushy. It was you-look-great-no-you-look-great-no-you-look great exchanges. It was mwaah-mwaah airkisses."
Next Adams gave Mrs. Clinton a bottle of her new perfume (of course called "Gossip"), which the first lady proceeded to spritz. Next the two, along with two of the first lady's aides, were engaged in a little "girltalk."
Somewhere in the midst of this behavior, the women crossed a line because the next thing they knew, "Lumbering across the divide, [the sculpture] bore down on us. He stood over us ... and in a thundering voice bellowed: 'This is not permitted. We have rules here. We will not tolerate this.'"
Naturally, they were shocked and Adams writes, "One of us, I think maybe me, burbled 'This is Mrs. Clinton' -- thinking maybe he only recognized Dolley Madison."
His sputtered response was, "This is not acceptable behavior. You will have to leave."
"We didn't know what the 'this' was," Adams said in her story. "Was it being women, was it being noisy, what?"
Nevertheless, Mrs. Clinton's response was to stand abruptly and say, "Let's go." After they scooped up their belongings, the party of four, "like scared rabbits, scurried out."
The University Club has declined to comment.
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Thursday Dec. 11, 1997
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