Favorite

The Clintons 

I wasn't particularly excited about the 25th anniversary celebration of Bill Clinton's election. Life goes on.

But I joined thousands at the talk by Bill and Hillary Clinton moderated by James Carville and mingled at social events Friday and Saturday nights.

I was happy I went. It turned out to be an emotional release over Hillary Clinton's defeat in 2016 and the ensuing national calamity. It was a reminder, too, of what it was like to be led by grownups.

About an hour into the program Saturday, Carville brought up the "elephant in the room" — Hillary's 2016 defeat. I recommend a trip to the Clinton School of Public Service's website to hear her 10-minute response. It included an acknowledgment of her own responsibility, but rightly said the Russian involvement, its links with Trump and the success of Republican vote suppression tactics in key states all deserve attention, if for no other reason than to make sure it doesn't happen again. National media — if they didn't, as The New York Times did, try to turn the event into a revisitation of Clinton female scandals — ginned out grist for the right-wing resentment mill. For example: Hillary's observation that Fox and other outlets deliver "partisan advocacy positions irrespective of the truth, the facts, the evidence."

The many references to Donald Trump drew attention, too, particularly Hillary's note of his obsession with her, evidenced a few hours before by the 800th or so attack on her by Twitter since his election. Said Hillary: "Honestly, between tweeting and golfing, how does he get anything done? I don't understand it. Maybe that's the whole point." She talked about how she'd used yoga, positive activities on a new political group and reading to help cope with her loss. She favors mysteries, she said, because "the bad guy always gets it in the end."

Emotional ovations followed tributes to Hillary Clinton. There was plenty of affection for Bill Clinton, but the event felt more like a Hillary rally. Some young women, infants when Bill was elected president, told reporters when asked about whether Bill's transgressions should be re-examined, said that they were in line for books because of Hillary Clinton, not Bill.

There weren't many differences in the side-by-side comments of the Clintons. Their synergy has always been part of their combined strength.

But I thought this: They are people who speak in complete sentences with an assurance built on serious study of everything from children's health to genome mapping. They referenced again and again "Putting People First," the 1992 campaign mantra. I confess — as someone who respects and likes Hillary Rodham Clinton, including her sharpish tongue and impatience with fools — that Bill wins the voter-connection contest. If there's ever been another political natural like the boy from Hope — the man Barack Obama called the Secretary of Explaining Stuff — I've never seen him. That is at least part of why the opposition loathed him. Drop all the anvils and sticks of dynamite they could find and they still couldn't beat the Roadrunner.

Both spoke believably about campaigning, but you couldn't beat Bill's story of meeting a 19-year-old from the backwoods of Kentucky researching the frontiers of space. It was warm, funny and generous about people and their potential. As Hillary said, you can watch Bill in these little meetings (hundreds of thousands over the years) and know that he is listening, not merely politicking. I don't think it was strictly a putdown of Trump, but also an article of Bill Clinton's faith, when he said how much better it is to reach out to the world and build diverse communities rather than divide people and feed on resentment.

I'd have liked to Donald Trump on that stage trying to speak on Bosnia or Kyoto or CHIP (the health insurance program for kids currently in Trump administration limbo) — or even — let's think of a gimme he'd flunk — what book he'd read recently.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Bill Clinton

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • Industrial hemp pilot program coming soon to Arkansas

    One of the booths at this week's Ark-La-Tex Medical Cannabis Expo was hosted by the Arkansas Hemp Association, a trade group founded to promote and expand non-intoxicating industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in the state. AHA Vice President Jeremy Fisher said the first licenses to grow experimental plots of hemp in the state should be issued by the Arkansas State Plant Board next spring.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • In black and white

    The men and women who patrol Little Rock in black and white vehicles tell a story in black and white.
    • Dec 7, 2017
  • Man's world

    The news of high-profile men outed for sexual harassment and worse shows no sign of abating soon.
    • Nov 30, 2017
  • The smell of the swamp

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has been ravaged by the industry-wide decline in circulation and advertising, but it continues to invest in important state Capitol reporting.
    • Nov 16, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Cats and dogs

    • I miss my wolves. It has been over five years since the last of my…

    • on December 12, 2017
  • Re: Where cities go from here

    • So Florida says he was wrong the first time and the second time he says…

    • on December 10, 2017
  • Re: Cats and dogs

    • Dee-lightful column - and wonderfully written comments.

    • on December 10, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation