The case for a ‘Presidents’ Club’ to advise Trump

The case for a ‘Presidents’ Club’ to advise Trump
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I don’t pretend to know former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonTrump sues to block NY prosecutors' subpoena for his tax returns Most voters say there is too much turnover in Trump administration RNC spokeswoman on 2020 GOP primary cancellations: 'This is not abnormal' MORE well.

I met him in 1998 while working as director of communications for former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.). In the 20 years since, I have been backstage with President Clinton several times, attended events where he spoke numerous times, and had the honor to speak with him personally a few times.

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The latest, very brief conversation took place in Fort Lauderdale on June 12, where President Clinton and mega-selling author James Patterson were about to speak before a sold-out Broward Center for the Performing Arts crowd regarding their already best-selling novel, “The President is Missing.”

 

After a quick catch-up chat backstage, I went to my assigned seat in the auditorium to listen to the “Conversation with President Bill Clinton and James Patterson,” moderated by author Brad Meltzer.

As I listened to the former president answer questions and address issues in his thought-provoking rhetorical paragraphs, I came to the same conclusion that I had two decades earlier: Bill Clinton has not only one of the best minds in political history but one of the best minds in history, period.

I say that as someone who is easily one of the most conservative writers out there. I’m a conservative who happens to respect and admire Bill Clinton for a number of pragmatic and commonsense reasons.

I am not writing now in defense of him, regarding interviews gone wrong, answers taken out of context, or any of his admitted mistakes and regrets. I am writing in defense of my — our — nation.

As I listened to President Clinton dissect various issues seamlessly and with the infectious passion that he has for policy, my overriding thought and question was: “How in the world is this guy not sitting down in private with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' MORE at least once a month to lend his considerable intellect and invaluable experience to the process of presidential decision-making?”

Of course, to sit down with President Trump, Bill Clinton first would have to be invited to the White House. Assuming both men could put aside the 2016 election, its emotions and results, it would make all the sense in the world for this to happen.

More than that, it should be a meeting attended also by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaKrystal Ball tears into 'Never Trump' Republicans Sanders campaign announces it contacted over 1 million Iowa voters Iowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats MORE. Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush would be welcome, of course, health permitting.

Out of a nation of approximately 327 million people, there are only five living citizens who are former presidents of the United States. There is no club on earth more exclusive, nor any collected wisdom more prized.

The United States of America cannot be about Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, or liberals. It must be about what is best for all her citizens.

In the increasingly polarized political climate of today, many on the left — as well as a good number on the right — refuse to give President Trump credit for anything. That is not only wrong, but foolish. Donald Trump has been successful in a number of areas over the course of his career, including his short tenure as president.

At times his success was helped by having the best people, with the highest intellects and the most extensive experience, sitting beside him to advise him on issues of importance.

As president, nothing can be more important than the welfare of our nation. I believe President Trump is more than secure enough to invite Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama to the White House for private meetings.

The question is, would they show up? For the good of the nation, they should.

Having had a few ringside seats to politics — both as its being made and being blown up — I would advise that if this “Presidents’ Club” became a reality, it must be done in total and absolute privacy.

Once official photos and video are taken for posterity, the room must be cleared. No recordings, no notes and, especially, no staff. Just three former presidents privately giving the sitting president their wise counsel based upon their years of sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office.

Between them, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama have 24 years of experience as U.S. president. That’s experience that could — and should — help guide President Trump while helping us all.

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration. He is the author of “The North Pole Project: In Search of the True Meaning of Christmas” (Simon & Schuster 2017).