Let me tell you a story. Remember the Bill Clinton administration? I was 34 when Bill Clinton was elected in
Shad Philanthropist Thomas W. Winthrop Attorney James D. He is a lawyer who rarely steps into a courtroom, who seldom writes a brief or motion. He is a lobbyist who does not lobby, at least not in the official sense of the term. He is a civil rights leader who some say has forsaken his early ideals in a successful quest for a place at the seat of national power.
He is a black man who has achieved an unprecedented, unparalleled stature as a Washington power broker, reaching the pinnacle of one of the most obstinately white workplaces in the nation, the K Street megafirm.
He is an apparently devoted husband whose reputation as a ladies' man crosses generational, racial and social boundaries. Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr. Once, he risked shouts of wrath and even bodily harm to help make a revolution against racism.
Then, following a decade running the National Urban League, he joined one of Washington's most powerful law firms. Now, he sits on the boards of 11 major companies and spurns an opportunity to become the first black attorney general of the United States because he says he'd rather not open his accounts to public view and because being the first black is "no reason for me to take a job.
Jordan is, by all accounts, not only a master fixer, but President Clinton's closest confidant, a man with whom the leader of the Free World spends time on the links, on vacation on Martha's Vineyard, in workaday conversation, at Christmas Eve dinners with just the two men and their wives, and most of all, at moments of crisis.
While Clinton is, as president, the visible leader in the relationship, the two men's friendship is as close to equal as can be in a bond involving the chief executive, friends of both men say.
After all, it was Jordan who first introduced then-Gov. Clinton to world leaders at their annual Bilderberg gathering in Germany in Plenty of governors try to make that scene; only Clinton got taken seriously at that meeting, because Vernon Jordan said he was okay.
Now, the two friends face the gravest crisis they have met together. Yet just when Clinton would seem to need Jordan most, they are in touch, aides say, only by phone, and it is not even clear whether that much contact has happened. Appearing together in public would only aggravate the popular suspicion that Clinton and Jordan have done something untoward to hide the president's alleged relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
And so both men must appear to be conducting business as usual. The president, largely staying out of public view until tonight's State of the Union address, has made only brief, if forceful, statements about the storm raging around him.
And but for a clipped statement to the press last week in which he denied any wrongdoing, Jordan has been seen only as a smiling, carefree pedestrian, entering or leaving work as if nothing had happened. That is Jordan's strength. His cool, his command of himself and his surroundings even under the most relentless pressure, is one of the primary sources of his authority.
Even in a fateful hour, Jordan need not speak out.
He has people who will do that for him -- or who will remain silent, whatever he wishes. More than 20 of Jordan's closest friends and associates declined to speak for this story. Even Dick Morris -- once a presidential confidant, now a radio commentator willing to discuss virtually anything -- offers only apologies this time.
What Jordan possesses most of all, as he has often said, is his connections. His job, more than anything else, is to know people, and to know just what it takes to motivate them, whether to do a favor, complete a task or simply be there for a client or friend.Court of Appeals of Virginia Unpublished Opinions.
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