In the absence of news–any news, of any sort, any kind, anytime, anywhere–from the United Nations Summit, or from the inaugural Clinton Global Initiative meeting, I give you instead shameless namedropping.
Friends, it’s just a citywide gabfest, stretching from the East River
to the Hudson. Manhattan is in total gridlock. The police, limos and
SUVs with tinted windows, and every kind of vehicle you can imagine,
complete with sharpshooters hanging out the back (hey, there’s nothing
like a guy with a machine gun to cut down on your urge to jaywalk), are
zooming past, while we poor working saps are held back by extremely
serious Secret Service types.
After standing in line outside the UN yesterday for 2 and a half
hours, only to arrive at the media center to find that they were showing
President Bush’s address–on CNN–I decided to look for greener
pastures, news-wise. But first I had to get out of the UN, which is no
mean feat these days. I ran more or less smack into Pervez Musharraf,
the president of Pakistan. I think he was all mixed up and in the wrong
hallway, and I certainly was. Then a security guard told me I had go
through a metal detector to get OUT of the building. I told him he was
mixed up, and dashed out the first door I could find.
On to the Clinton meeting, which made the UN look deeply, thoroughly,
comprehensively organized. I will not bore you with the details of how
they didn’t have my press credentials because the “credentialling
company failed to forward any of the files,” or with the hour I spent
standing in the on-site credentialling line, only to be told I was
supposed to be in the registration line. Where, after I stood there for a
half hour or so, time punctuated by the rather amusing incident of a
young woman just ahead of me fainting, but who refused to sit in a chair
and put her head down, for fear of losing her place in line. Only to be
told, when I reached the front of the registration line, that I should
be in the on-site credentialling line instead. . . . And so it went.
And no, I didn’t get the goodie bag, which contained a notebook, an
umbrella, a bottle of water, a pound of Starbucks coffee, and a Nokia
9300 cell phone (!), among other things that I didn’t get to examine. In
fact, I didn’t get a copy of the schedule or the attendee list, until I
had been in all the aforementioned lines again about 3 times, but,
finally, finally, oh blessed relief, I made it into the first plenary
There I sat a a few feet away from Bill Clinton, King Abdullah of Jordan, Prime Minister Tony Blair of the UK, and our own Secretary of State, Condi Rice. Before they started yakking on about various matters, there was Richard Holbrooke, kissing the Emir of Qatar, and Al Hunt, who was saying that he’d already talked to James Carville twice today. I tried to speak to Al Hunt, because he went to Wake Forest, but suddenly he spied Gray Davis, the recently deposed governor of California, and so I made my exit. Whereupon I collided with Jesse Jackson, who was giving an impromptu interview in the hall.
And no, I’m not going to the reception at the Museum of Modern Art,
because, as it turns out, and completely against what I was told about 5
or 6 times today, the press is not, in fact, invited. So I am hanging
out for the evening, and thinking about what news tomorrow may bring.