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Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – On electon day for over 15 years, I stopped by Roy Sullivan’s Little Rock barber shop to get his predictions. About 95 percent of the time Roy correctly called the outcome. I never missed an election–and Roy never missed offering a prediction. Notwithstanding getting a haircut when needed, my visits to his barber shop were also opportunities to engage in great debates.
In the 2008 presidential election, we’ve already seen glaring errors in the New Hampshire and South Carolina polls. But in election after election Roy’s “barber shop poll” was rarely wrong. On those few occasions he missed it, it was by the narrowest of margins.
This past weekend I had the great privilege of delivering the eulogy at Roy’s memorial service. Roy had a stroke several years ago and over the last few months his condition had worsened. He passed away peacefully last week surrounded by his family.
Roy loved people and politics. He had a keen understanding of both. He was also a firm believer in “term limits” long before they became popular. I don’t think he ever voted for an incumbent, and he wasn’t at all fond of taxes. As a result, it didn’t take us long to find a discussion topic.
When Mack McLarty became President Bill Clinton‘s chief of staff and moved to Washington, he sent Roy a hand-written note from the White House which said, “Roy, I Miss You.” Roy had that note framed on the wall beside his barber chair.
I miss Roy too. Today is a big election day. Twenty-four states, including Arkansas, will hold primaries for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.
I’ll drop by Roy’s shop (now owned and operated by his son Scott) as I have continued to do on election days–even since Roy retired. Others may turn to the New York Times, CNN, Zogby, Reuters or the Associated Press for predictions, but I’ll be counting on the reliable results of the barber shop poll.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD - ”Kids for Hillary” founder David Helfenbein is featured in today’s New York Times. David is a friend of the Clinton School, having spent time here working on a project for his University of Pennsylvania history professor David Eisenhower. Eisenhower, who is also a friend, is the grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Helfenbein, a senior at Penn, first met Senator Clinton when he was 13-years-old, and has worked for her campaigns since. The Chappaqua, N.Y., native now does advance work for the senator’s presidential campaign. Click here for the Times story. Here is an excerpt:
He met Mrs. Clinton in March 2000, when she came to visit the middle school that he attended. Even at 13, David Helfenbein was no political novice. He had been involved in student government since fifth grade, was class president in sixth grade and school vice president in seventh grade.
“I think I took a year off in eighth grade,” Mr. Helfenbein said, before noting that he held a school office every year after that. By his senior year, he was president of Horace Greeley High School.
When Mrs. Clinton visited his middle school, he was determined to meet her. He asked the principal for permission to speak at the event, a naturalization ceremony for new citizens. He was assigned one sentence, but managed to welcome Mrs. Clinton from the podium, and tell her, “You really do light up the room.” Later, he talked his way into a reception for Mrs. Clinton, where he offered to work on her Senate campaign.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – The Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus convened in Little Rock today to discuss the economic future of the Delta.
Governor Mike Beebe kicked off the agenda, followed by representatives from three presidential campaigns: Bob Nash, Sen. Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Campaign Manager; Lisa Ferrell, Sen. Barrack Obama colleague and supporter; and French Hill, Gov. Mike Huckabee’s Finance Chair. They fielded questions about what their candidates would do as president to promote economic development in the Delta.
Afterwards, Clinton School student, Sanford Johnson, joined a diverse panel focusing on education. Johnson taught with Teach for America at Helena’s KIPP school. He hopes to take his experience at the Clinton School and return to the Delta to make a difference.
“It all starts with education. You can’t fix the economy until you fix education.”
Posted by student LINDSEY CLARK – In President Bush’s final State of the Union Address Monday night, he recognized the importance of strengthening and reforming the veterans’ health care system. He noted that over the past seven years, funding for veterans has increased by 95 percent. Urging Congress to enact the recommendations made by Senator Bob Dole and Secretary Donna Shalala and their Commission on Care for Returning and Wounded Warriors, both Democrats and Republicans stood and applauded. Our brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country deserve quality health care. It has been long overdue.
However, one group that is being left out by the President is children. If children are the future of our country, should they also be entitled to health care? Repeatedly, President Bush has vetoed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). An increase in spending has often been the reason for vetoing this legislation that as been in existence since 1997. However, I’m confused. In his speech he asked Congress to support a $300 million program called Pell Grants for Kids that would allow children to attend stronger schools and faith-based schools. He also asked for further strengthening of the No Child Left Behind Act. We can invest in children’s education but we can’t invest in children’s health?
SCHIP would support 10 million children, regardless of how fragile our economy is or what happens to parents’ jobs. Eighty-one percent of Americans support the program, including 43 state governors. Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe is a supporter. SCHIP serves around 80,000 kids in Arkansas. Representative Zack Space (D-Ohio) is leading the charge in Congress to override the President’s veto. I urge organizations, government officials, and the public to encourage their representatives and senators to support this legislation and override President Bush’s veto. Our veterans have fought for freedom and security of our country and it is the children of this great nation will build upon those freedoms and securities to make our nation even greater.
Lindsey Clark is a Clinton School student working toward her Master of Public Service Degree. This column represents her personal views.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Clinton School Students watched on television as President Bush delivered the State of the Union Monday night. Here are excerpts from the papers they wrote analyzing his speech:
Sarah Argue: “This largely symbolic exercise could be put to real use. It is disappointing that a speech that takes over network television in order to bring it to the people of America is really just a ‘ra-ra’ for the President.”
Lukman Arsalan: “One thing I should give credit to President Bush is that he mentioned Jordan as one of the countries that was a victim of terrorist Al-Qaeda attacks. This made me think how terrorism has no boundaries.”
Sharon Bailey: “He used the word ‘compassionate’ only twice, but not in proximity to words that are most often associated with compassion, such as health care, doctors, schools, volunteers, children or even tax relief. Instead the word ‘compassionate’ was used twice in a passage that described soldiers on active duty in a war zone.”
Carly Benkov: “He seemed to be self-assured, and the camera even caught him displaying a huge smile that often overflowed into laughter. This made it even harder for us to take him seriously, as we kept wondering what it was he thought was so funny.”
Molly Brunkow: “I wonder if the president actually sees his past seven years as securing what he calls a ‘more freer, more helpful and compassionate world.’
Lindsey Clark: “The speech lacked passion, only offering moments of emotion when he spoke of the military and when he vehemently defended his polices in Iraq.”
Emily English: “He used graphic images only when discussing the war and moved quickly through global poverty issues to bring us back to our veterans of war.”
Tim Giattina: “Realizing it unlikely that Congress would usher through any major legislative proposals in the final year of his presidency, his final address lacked any of the grand, sweeping proposals of previous years.”
Jose Guzzardi: “In regarding to foreign trade in general, I think Bush did a good job in advocating for free trade agreements with Latin American countries as a way to stop ‘false populism.’”
Amanda Harris: “It seems as though those in Washington have done a lot of talking about bipartisanship but are just as quick to polarize issues and sides as soon as something controversial arises.”
Sara Himelfarb: “I was pleased see the President honor Donna Shalala and Bob Dole for their work on relief efforts for veterans, and I very much appreciated the idea to allow soldiers to transfer their educational awards to their children or spouses.”
Sanford Johnson: “Considering the severity of the housing crisis, I expected him to spend more time on it. He did offer tax free bonds to help people refinance mortgages, as well as increased funding for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. While this is a start, what about the predatory lenders that got us into this mess in the first place?”
Erin Jones: “What I did like seeing was the overwhelming support of funding the military. While I am not in favor of the war, I am also not in favor of sending troops out who are unprepared and ill equipped.”
Geoff Kearney: “Though he was more tempered in many ways than he was in previous States of the Union, President Bush is still very much a tough-talker. He made a point of threatening to use the veto pen multiple times.”
Ryan Lewis: “Nothing permeated from my TV screen more clearly than the tension in the chamber.”
Marquita Little: “President Bush’s overall presentation and delivery was good….The address was well organized and he spoke at a pace that made him easy to follow.”
J.D. Lowery: “His rhetoric was an odd mix of partisan defiance and modesty in acknowledgment of his now limited influence with Congress.”
James Mitchell: “Bush made so little departure from his scripted ideological positions that I began to wonder if he and I are looking at the same country.”
Jonathan Mwaba: “Bush used the stage to allay some fears that has hit the American economy and stock market by focusing on finances, which was a good move on his part I thought. This classical move would qualify for what people back in Africa would term as ‘political engineering.’”
Hunter Riley: “One of the most interesting comments of the night when the President mentioned the Gulf Coast (what I feel was specifically because he left it out of his speech last year).”
Joe Schafer: “While I disagree with the call for extremes in border security, I do feel his ideas on the need for a feasible guest worker program should be given some attention.”
Penelope Sur: “Sometimes it seems that this President’s lack of curiosity about the concerns, beliefs and priorities of his constituents creates an inevitable disconnect between his policies and our country’s needs.”
Russ Swearingen: “In a very real sense, his presidency is a ‘lame duck.’ However, he remained vocal about his branch’s superiority over the Congress; seemingly bullying the Congress by stating multiple times that is up to Congress to do the business of the people.”
James Szenher: “The President made it clear that his intentions were to continue the fight in Iraq ‘until our enemies are defeated.’ Since the terms of defeat are undefined and the enemy is a loose organization of cells which constantly recruit new members, it’s difficult to guess about when the President thinks this end will come, if ever.”
Jay Thompson: “Every time I watch a State of the Union I am amazed by just how much silly, partisan showmanship is involved. It always resembles a highly choreographed play more than a political event that has implications worldwide.”
Tina Tian: “The situation in Kenya today is threatening the world democracy. When President Bush named several other countries, like Sudan about world security and peace, I had an expectation from him and his opinion on Kenya. However, I did not hear that.”
Idonia Trotter: “Overall President George Bush comes across as friendly, but armed with strong beliefs and convictions. People tend to not like his politics, but they like him as a person who was evident in the hand shakes and hugs, patting of the head of rival democrats.”
Loan Truong: “Even though he (Bush) tried to touch on issues concerning many people in the country, he diminishes the severity of these problems.”
Julie West: “Americans really want to know if the stimulus package will provide them with greater economic security at the kitchen tables, the mortgage crisis can be managed and healthcare costs can be controlled.”
Chance Williams: “I was relieved to hear that the President is finally taking an aggressive stance on the deficit, but it begs the question: Where have you been?”
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Tonight President Bush delivers his seventh and final State of the Union address. Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, who spoke recently at the Clinton School, will give the Democratic response. Clinton School students will be asked to offer their written comments on both speeches as part of a seminar Dean Mike Hemphill and I are teaching this semester. I’ll post some of the comments later this week.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – Everywhere we go, we hear about Flat Stanley’s adventures. The latest comes by way of The Washington Post “Reliable Source” column, which yesterday lead off with an item about U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab who introduced her Flat Stanley to Bill Gates:
Could the world’s richest man please pose for a photo with it?
“Ah,” Gates said warmly. ” Flat Stanley!”
Click here for the full column.
Since Arkansas First Lady Ginger Beebe sent paper Flat Stanley dolls with our students as they traveled abroad for their International Public Service Projects last summer, we’ve learned more and more about the Flat Stanley Project, started by Texas third grade teacher Dale Hubert. The concept involves making a doll of the popular children’s book character, taking it to interesting places and chronicling his experiences with photographs and Flat Stanley journals. Then you send Flat Stanley to elementary school classes so he can share his experiences and broaden the horizens of the students there.
Mrs. Beebe has taken Flat Stanley’s experiences with the students, who traveled to Indonesia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Belize, South Africa, Malawi and Prague among other locations, into classrooms throughout Arkansas. Plans are underway to continue to the Flat Stanley partnership with the First Lady this summer.
Click here for more info on the original Flat Stanley Project.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – David Gearhart of Fayetteville, Ark. vice chancellor for advancement at the University of Arkansas, was named the school’s Chancellor Friday by the Board of Trustees. Recommended by UofA President Dr. Alan Sugg, Gearhart will succeeed John White on July 1. White, who has headed the Fayettville campus for 11 years, will remain on the engineering faculty. I’ve invited Dr. White to spend some time at the Clinton School as well.
David and his wife, Jane, are longtime friends–dating back to college days. I also had the opportunty of teaching their son, Brock, when I was a visiting professor on the Fayetteville campus. David will make an outstanding chancellor, and we at the Clinton School look foward to working with him in his new role.
Another good friend, Charlie Cook of Washington D.C, who writes the Cook Political Report and also for the National Journal, met with Clinton School students for two hours Friday morning about the 2008 Presidential campaign. Charlie was in Little Rock to speak to the Political Animals Club, There’s no one who knows politics better and loves it any more than Charlie. Our students always look forward to his visits, and we’re hopeful for a return stop this fall for a review of the general election.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – We just got word that the River Market will be hosting CNN’s “American Morning” program tomorrow. Here are the details:
– CNN’s “American Morning” will be filming live from the River Market tomorrow for their cross-country Election 2008 bus tour. They’re talking with voters and going deep into the issues that impact us all. They’ll be here tomorrow morning from 5am until 8am. Select River Market vendors will be open early tomorrow, so come on down and have some breakfast or coffee & let your voice be heard!