Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, both with lots of ambition, knew they’d have to tend to their relationship once the former first lady joined the garrulous Schumer in the Senate. So six years ago, the two New York Democrats started meeting for monthly dinners at Hunan Dynasty on Capitol Hill, a restaurant Schumer calls his “late-night office.”
It was there that Clinton persuaded Schumer to write a book about politics, and it was there that she feted him when the book came out in January.
Clinton says the book’s title, Positively American, is “soooo him” because Schumer always sees the glass half full. But she says they tossed around other ideas for a title, such as these:
• An Inconvenient Booth: Tales From Hunan Dynasty
• Chuck Schumer: Please Put the Dishes in the Sink (a suggestion from Senator Dick Durbin, who has shared an apartment with Schumer since 1992)
• The Audacity of Chuck Schumer (“That was taken,” Clinton says with mock iciness, referring to 2008 presidential rival Barack Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope)
• Tales of the Senior Senator (“Underline senior,” she says)
• The Schumer Way: How to Keep the Congress, Win the White House, and Achieve a Perfect Score on Your SATs
• The Republican Political Machine: A Shanda (“That was the New York title,” Schumer says of the Yiddish term for shame or embarrassment)
For the book party, many of Schumer’s colleagues showed up for egg rolls and fortune cookies, a free book, and Senate-style schmoozing.
Massachusetts senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy stood on either side of Schumer as he signed copies for each. Kennedy offered Schumer a fortune cookie. “This has a good message for you,” he said.
“I bet it does,” Schumer retorted: “get lost. go home.”
Then Kerry, who a week before had announced his noncandidacy for the presidency, sounded a new note of self-deprecation.
“These bookends here,” he said to Schumer, noting that the author was between two presidential also-rans, “this’ll end your career.”