The Presidents Club may be unofficial, but it is not a metaphor or a figure of speech: the fraternity of presidents has a history, rules, taboos, resentments, partnerships, days of mourning and thanksgiving. At a time of deep political division, the club is a place where members from both parties come together to get work done, rewrite their own histories, sometimes compete and squabble and fight—but also remind us of what political
the Presidents club became an actual fraternity, an abiding alliance between sitting and former Presidents born of the experiences they had shared, the mistakes they avoided and the opportunities they seized. Presidents can do more together than apart, and they all know it, and so they join forces as needed, to consult, complain, console, pressure, protect, redeem.
Washington has referred to the Senate as “the world’s most exclusive club.” But Americans were reminded last week that presidents have a club of their own, albeit one that rarely meets. With only a handful of living members at any given time, the Presidents Club sometimes looks more like a dysfunctional family than a collection of august world leaders. Old resentments bubble up, nobody seems to want advice from their elders, and they see one another mostly at funerals.