Big Democratic donors really have not liked the Obama years. President Obama sees schmoozing with billionaires as a chore, and those very important billionaires can tell. One donor told The New York Times on Tuesday that if Obama's behavior was a movie, it would be He's Just Not That Into You. Which is why deep-pocketed Dems are so happy that the Clintons are fundraising again, recently for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
Arthur L. Schecter, who became an ambassador to the Bahamas during Bill Clinton's presidency, told the Times:
"It’s a whole different shtick. The Clintons have a way of making people feel like they’re part of something and important to what’s going on, and I found that lacking in the Obama team."
Instead of staying after hours at fundraising events as Bill is known to do, Obama hosts what one donor calls "cuckoo clock parties." "He comes down, gives a speech, poses for some photos and pops back inside.”
Obama's anti-schmoozing attitude is well-documented. "It's not so hard to give a basic 'please' and 'thank you,'" an anonymous donor "sniffed" to Politico last week. During the summer of 2012, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer reported on how upset big donors were that Obama wouldn't pose for pictures at his first White House Christmas and Hanukkah parties.
This decision continues to provoke disbelief from some Democratic fund-raisers. “It’s as easy as falling off a log!” one says. “They just want a picture of themselves with the President that they can hang on the bathroom wall, so that their friends can see it when they take a piss.” Another says, “Oh, my God — the pictures, the fucking pictures!”
So the amiable Clintons are back to make rich people feel important. After five years of Obama, donors "lap up the attention" lavished by the Clintons, Politico's Maggie Haberman writes. At a recent Manhattan fundraiser for McAuliffe, Bill stayed late, even after the "important" guests had gone home, the Times reports, "to shake hands and pose for photos. He greeted the waiters and joked with stragglers that he would meet them at a nearby bar." At another McAuliffe party, he "noticed the hosts’ bored young son on a sofa. The former president plopped down and the two played on an iPad together."
Hillary is no slouch, either. She writes excellent thank-you notes, and Obama does not. While the Obama campaign sent mostly automated emails during the 2012 campaign, the Times reports the Clintons write handwritten notes: "Even while serving as secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton called some longtime supporters on their birthdays ('It’s your secretary of state calling to wish you a happy birthday...'), and sent personal notes when a new grandchild arrived."
Hillary has become significantly more popular with the liberal base since her 2008 bid for the presidency, as The Atlantic's Molly Ball explains. "And yet the naked transactionalism of the event was a reminder of the other side of Clintonism, which has also reemerged as the pre-presidential buzz around Clinton has intensified," Ball writes. But the Clintons' style seems to work — last night they raised over $1 million for NYC mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio at a party at the Roosevelt Hotel. Former City Council candidate Debra Cooper told NY1, "There were many shouts of Hillary 'Hillary, Hillary, Hillary' along with 'Bill, Bill, Bill.'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.