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Madeleine Begun Kane

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President Clinton recently picked up a cordless electric drill and joked that he'd be needing one now that he's about to become a homeowner. I have only one piece of advice for Mr. Clinton. Come to think of it, I have lots of advice for him about foreign and domestic ... uh ... affairs.

But for the sake of brevity, I'll limit my counsel to the subject of home ownership. First, let me put my expertise on the table:

1. I own a house;

2. I own a house; and

3. I own a house.

And if that isn't enough to convince you, my house is a mere 35 miles (and 1.5 million dollars) away from the five-bedroom Chappaqua, New York home the Clintons plan to buy.

I know what you're thinking, but the rumor isn't true. I have never so much as touched a golf club, and neither has my husband Mark. So it doesn't bother us at all that every golf course within a 60-mile radius is about to be invaded by pesky Secret Service guys.

Now that you know I'm properly credentialed and bias-free, here's my advice for the President:


At least, don't do it unless you're planning to invite former President Carter over twice a week. I hear he's pretty handy with a hammer. Although I suspect he'd rather negotiate a hostage release than negotiate your wiring and pipes.

Unlike Jimmy "the Toolman" Carter, you Mr. Clinton have never had to get your hands dirty. As President and Governor you've led a sheltered life: Your shelter has always been taken care of by others, without your having to leave dozens of phone messages begging sundry roofers and plumbers to "pretty please" bail you out.

I'm not sure what it's like in your current neighborhood, but up here in New York, roofers, plumbers, and electricians are independent. By that I don't mean that they have their own private companies, although many of them do. In fact, several have their own private zip codes.

What I mean is that we have a lot more homeowners here desperate for repairs than skilled contractors ready and willing to do the work. So even the most incompetent home repair contractors find at least 50 messages like this on their answering machines every day ... assuming they bother to check their voicemail between rounds of golf:

"Hello, is this Sextuple A Electricians? I haven't had any power for a week and this is the 12th time I've called. Please fix my wiring, I'm begging you. Money's no object, even if I have to get a 3rd mortgage."

"Hello, Roughneck Roofing? Please, I'm desperate. The roof you installed last month seems to be collaps..."

"Cashdrain Plumbing? I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I never should have criticized you for forgetting to shut off my water before working on the toilet. Will you ever forgive me? Please come back. I'll do anything. There's even a classified secret in it for you, if you come right away."

So, Mr. President, as much as your wife really wants to be Senator ... and as much as you really owe her BIG TIME, I do think you should reconsider. Because if you insist on buying that lovely 1.7 million dollar home, it's only a matter of time before you put it back on the market ... as a handyman's special.

© 1999 Madeleine Begun Kane. All Rights Reserved.
1st Published

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