Clinton family unites at library for tribute to mothers | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Clinton family unites at library for tribute to mothers

Posted By on Sun, Jun 10, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Sunday night open line begins. No complaints here. I can never get enough good tomatoes when they come in, but even on Sunday you can drive right up to the door at Hestand's and restock with a big bag full of Cherokee purples, ready to eat.

Oh, but wait, there is this:

TRIBUTE: Virginia Clinton Kelley, in photo with her sons, is subject of new Clinton Library exhibit
  • TRIBUTE: Virginia Clinton Kelley, in photo with her sons, is subject of new Clinton Library exhibit

* NEW AT CLINTON LIBRARY: A traveler reports sitting in front of Chelsea Clinton on a flight into Little Rock this afternoon. She'll be speaking at an event at the Clinton Library this evening for the opening of an exhibit on two remarkable women — Dorothy Rodham and Virginia Kelley. Chelsea's parents — former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — will be on hand.

These smart and very different women were the most influential formative figures for two of the most important figures on the world stage today. Mrs. Rodham — smart, engaged, kind and funny — was the grandmother everyone should wish for. Virginia Kelley, another smart woman, was about as much fun as anyone you could hope to encounter. My enduring memory is of her son, the soon-to-be president, being interviewed on a cable TV show when Virginia called in live from Las Vegas. She claimed to be on some sort of serious mission with Barbra Streisand. Clinton's face positively lit up at the sound of his mother's voice and his smile spread: "You stick to that story, mother," he said, laughing. Virginia Kelley liked to make a wager now and then. And colorful? Oh, my.

The Kelley-Rodham exhibit opens tomorrow.

THE WOMEN: Hillary Clinton, Dorothy Rodham and Chelsea Clinton at Chelseas wedding.
  • THE WOMEN: Hillary Clinton, Dorothy Rodham and Chelsea Clinton at Chelsea's wedding.

* IN OTHER NEWS: Fox 16 reports that the Jennings Osborne estate auction wound up today with the sale of his Hot Springs lake retreat, which sits on more than seven acres, for $840,000, plus the 10 percent buyer's premium.

* GO GABBY: Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman forced out of office by a near-fatal shooting, is out campaigning for a former aide in the race for her old seat. It will be close. Her opponent, a gun nut in an earlier race, is avoiding that topic this go-round.


Several hundred — politicians, FOBs, family friends — gathered for the Clinton Library reception and saw a film on the mothers. It's worth seeing, with tributes to them galore, but the highlight for me was learning of Dorothy Rodham's love of the Rolling Stones and seeing photos of her with Keef and Mick during their Little Rock stop some years ago.

Chelsea Clinton spoke warmly of her grandmothers, particularly Dorothy Rodham, with whom she shared 32 years. Virginia Kelley died when she was 13. But she recalled their counsel — first Rodham's that it's not what happens to you, but what you do about what happens to you. Kelley wasn't certain about death and taxes, Chelsea said, but her dad's indomitable mother was always sure there'd be a tomorrow.


Brian Chilson's photo shows the Clinton family before Chelsea's talk. Also joining them were Hillary's brothers, Hugh and Tony, and their wives and children. Roger Clinton wasn't present. A friend said he was at his son's high school graduation. Chelsea's husband, Marc Mezvinsky, also was unable to attend.

Bill Clinton defied oddsmakers. He didn't speak. But all the Clintons worked the rope line for a good period afterward, greeting friends and posing for photos.

The former president spoke to me at length about his foundation's agricultural project in Africa. He'll be visiting Malawi, Ethiopia and other places again soon. As ever, he spoke knowledgeably about the details — yields on one-acre farms in Malawi and the hurdles of getting goods to market. He spoke glowingly of a woman who'd quadrupled her yield on a half-acre farm and thus lifted her annual income to $400. She'd been chosen a leader of other farmers — all men — because of her skills.


Bill and Hillary Clinton seemed to enjoy their daughter's remarks, particularly when she talked about being a grandparent someday. She'll have to have her own child first, of course.

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