Clinton over the moon for the stars

'ON A clear day in Washington you can see Barbra Streisand forever.' So said the New York Times in one of a sudden flurry of newspaper articles and commentaries - almost all laden with disapproving finger-wagging - about the apparent love affair going on between the Clinton administration and Hollywood.

Ms Streisand, once famous as superstar recluse, does indeed appear to have become a Washington fixture. She has been spied at dinners attended by the President, on Capitol Hill, at Democratic fund-raisers and sharing meals with cabinet members. She even had Sunday lunch with Chris Patten, Governor of Hong Kong, when he was here for talks recently.

In her train, however, comes a long line of celluloid luminaries, all apparently intent on breathing the same air as the Clintons. Some even make it into the White House for a night. The singer Judy Collins has managed it and Liza Minnelli is on the list for next month, at Hillary Clinton's invitation.

One star, albeit perhaps a faded one, might become a regular in the White House if the rumours are true that Mr Clinton's youthful spokesman, George Stephanopoulos, has coupled up with Jennifer Grey, who had the lead role in the 1987 movie, Dirty Dancing.

And who, meanwhile, did the President dine with in Vancouver after his summit last month with Boris Yeltsin? Not a panel of Russian experts but a whole gaggle of celebrities, including Sharon Stone (most famous for her nudity in Basic Instinct), Richard Gere and Richard Dreyfuss.

Another busload of crowd-pullers, including Billy Crystal, Christopher Reeve and Sam Waterston, was recently given a tour of the White House and given policy briefings by different members of the cabinet.

The columnists are wasting no time in pointing out the dangers for President Clinton - who wants to portray himself as a centrist Democrat close to the people - of cavorting with people who are the very symbols of liberalism and elitism. The President's approval rating has slipped to 45 per cent, according to a USA Today-CNN poll - 10 points lower than at the end of April. The advice from the Washington Post was simple: 'If Clinton wants to see some Hollywood stars, he could do what the rest of us do: go to a movie]'.

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