Book broker to the rescue

There’s this lawyer in Washington who pretty much runs everything in that incestuous little company town where they do public service for personal profit. His name is Robert Barnett.

Once I got a letter from him saying that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be able to talk to me for a book I was attempting to write about her husband’s first year as president. Fair enough. Couldn’t blame her.

Then I saw Bob Woodward’s book, “The Agenda,” on that husband’s first six months as president. Hillary had not only talked to Woodward, but shared juicy information. Fair enough. People are afraid not to talk to Woodward because they know some other rascal is bound to talk to him about them.

So I beheld Woodward’s acknowledgements section. There he gave a shout-out to his long-time agent. That would be this same Robert Barnett. Then I learned that this Barnett was married to a CBS reporter. People in Washington were talking at the time about Arkansas as a strange little backwater place where business and politics overlapped inappropriately. Did they have no sense of themselves, of irony, of their own absurdity, of their self-delusion, never mind their desperate need for introspection?

Why do I bring this up now? Perhaps it’s partly because I can’t seem to get quite over it. But mainly it’s because there are these negotiations being started in Washington to mend the fences between Hillary and Barack Obama. And the point person for these epic delicacies of such great national interest is, you guessed it, this same Robert Barnett.

He is trusted by both Hillary and Barack because, you guessed it again, he brokered million-dollar book deals for each of them.They’re trying to figure out exactly how Barack is going to get his people to send Hillary money to pay off her debt. They’re trying to figure out the extent to which Barack will pay for Hillary’s travel and expenses if and when she campaigns for him — a negotiating point that would seem to say that she won’t be the vice presidential nominee. They’re trying to figure out the extent to which Hillary will be adored and ego-stroked at the national convention.

If they work all that out, Barnett may even bring up what to do about Hillary’s crazy husband, who is still sputtering, spewing and venting.

I’m no millionaire book broker, but I’ve been thinking about how the Democratic convention in Denver ought to go. I’ll throw this out there in case Barack, Hillary and ol’ Bob Barnett are listening.

You devote Monday to the Kennedys. You have the 40-year anniversary of Robert’s tragic killing. You have Ted’s health challenge. You have Caroline inching into politics, to the point of having endorsed Obama and serving on his vice presidential selection squad.

Tuesday night is all Hillary’s. You let her and her people have it. She gives a showcase, spotlighted speech. The convention floor regales her in a lengthy demonstration. And so forth.

On Wednesday night her name gets placed in formal nomination. And who gets to do it? Why, her crazy husband himself, old Billy boy. He has some experience with nominating speeches, having bored the nation for Michael Dukakis in 1988. He gets to vent, spew and celebrate himself, his own legacy and his brilliant, wonderful wife.

Then, in a magnanimous gesture, Hillary follows her husband to the podium to hug him, thank him and then, in the interest of saving the very country from McBush, removing her name from the nomination into which her husband just placed it, so that Barack Obama can be nominated by acclamation.

Then she delivers herself the powerful nominating speech for Barack, saying no one could appreciate him more than the one who went to war against him.

Barnett can take credit for this plan if he wishes. It would carry more weight coming from the Beltway than from some incestuous backwater little place.

John Brummett, an award-winning columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock, is the author of “High Wire.” His e-mail address is jbrummett@

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