“He was just kidding,” our waitress said about her coworker, the sometimes banquet waiter Marcus Burrizon, age 21, who was just hauled away in shackles and leg irons by Secret Service agents. It was “Renaissance Weekend” in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and President Clinton and about 1,600 top achievers were getting together for beach fun-runs and golf when Mr. Burrizon allegedly left a note in the men’s room that threatened the President.

“I hate him,” said another waiter, an ex-Marine from the Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina, referring to the President. “I was an air traffic controller at Beaufort. When he pardoned the air traffic controllers who were fired by Reagan for going on strike, that left no job openings for us. If it wasn’t for Clinton, I’d be making $82,000 a year.”

Arriving at Hilton Head on a sunny afternoon, Clinton missed the Renaissance session on “Moral Compasses for Modern Leaders” and headed straight from the airport to the links. “Even a blind pig finds his way,” he said, shifting into his Southern Boy lingo.

Upstairs at the hotel, a crowd of leaders from business, media, government, and academia gathered to discuss “Spiritual Life in a Secular Society” and “Women as Leaders” and to ask the President and First Lady questions. Downstairs, at the beauty shop, the girls were dishing dirt. “I thought they’d be more tight-lipped,” said a woman who was getting her nails done, referring to a White House staffer who had just left the shop. “She told us it’s standard procedure for new, young female employees to make the trip to the Oval Office, and if he’s interested, the President hits on them.”

Upstairs, in the “About Shame” session, Ben Wattenberg, author of Values Matter Most, and sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer discussed “Morals, Manners and Today’s Pop Culture.” Downstairs, the valet staff was buzzing about the grand arrival of Barbra Streisand. “She had the heaviest 10 suitcases I ever lifted and she wouldn’t talk to any of us. She stood by herself, dressed in black, with her back to everyone and if approached, she turned away When we took her upstairs to her penthouse suite on the beach, all she said was ‘Where’s the rest of it?’ She had the valet girl unpack everything in her suitcases. She asked the same girl to come in and repack her luggage on her day off. ‘People who need people’ to reload their underwear.”

Upstairs, Streisand empathized with ex-Senator Larry Pressler about his recent election defeat, citing similar setbacks suffered by the heroine of her recent movie The Mirror Has Two Faces. At dinner, Ms. Streisand was in a good mood, sitting at the head table between her boyfriend, James Brolin, and the President. Downstairs, Renaissance guests were talking about how to keep her from being invited next year. “At dinner, she strolls in and gets in front of all of us, just cuts in line. Everyone except her—Pulitzer Prize winners, ambassadors, Nobel winners—wears their name tag.”

Upstairs, the President was listening to Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen To Good People. Chuck Robb, the Senator who was caught getting a massage from a topless centerfold, was a panelist in the “What I’ve Learned About Love” session. His mother-in-law, Lady Bird Johnson, was there. Prosecutor Kenneth Starr wasn’t in attendance at the invitation-only weekend. He missed the “Renaissance Laughter” session with film writer Patty Marx, author of You Can Never Go Wrong By Lying.

After leaving the Renaissance New Year’s Eve party at 1:45 A.M., Bill Clinton told reporters the weekend lacked luster and that something was missing this year. “We’ve got to do some thinking about how to recover some of that sense of intimacy,” said the President. Downstairs, the staff breathed a collective sigh of relief as the Renaissancers headed for their cabs. “Thank God they’re gone,” said our waitress, a friend of the detained waiter. “They were in the hotel kitchen with about 1,000 bomb-sniffing dogs. I’m afraid of dogs.”