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Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – I’ve known Hillary Clinton for more than 30 years. I have and will always have the highest regard for her. We worked on education issues; we served together on the Arkansas Children’s Hospital board; our daughters played on the same softball team; and I had the privilege of chairing the Clinton Foundation during the planning, construction and opening of the Clinton Presidential Library. She is an incredible person and would make an outstanding president. With the highest percentage of the 54 primaries, Arkansas supported her overwhelmingly. Depending on which states are included in the count, she may have actually won the overall popular vote.
However, at this juncture that is moot. Congressman Rahm Emanuel said it well: “It depends how the loser loses whether the winner wins in November,” and he’s right. As an example, one of the reasons Senator Mark Pryor had a meteoric rise in Arkansas politics (no Republican opposition for a second Senate term) was the class he showed and the respect he earned in accepting defeat after a tough loss to Attorney General Winston Bryant several years ago. Since that time, Pryor has been unbeatable.
Contrary to the opinion of some others whom I respect, Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination because he made wise strategic decisions in two areas (1) technology and (2) better understanding the party rules, the complicated delegate selection process and competing in both caucuses and primaries. Senator Clinton’s vote to support the war in Iraq (though I thought at the time she was right) first opened the door for Senator Obama. But he had the prevailing primary message — change — and based on his organizational and oratorical skills, he proved to be an effective messenger. As Senator Clinton told me in 1991 while we sitting at the ballpark watching our daughters play softball, what the Democratic Party needed to win was the right message and the right messenger. Whether Senator Obama’s change is stronger than Senator Clinton’s experience in the November election remains to be seen. Many Obama supporters say yes. Many Clinton supporters say no. Only time will tell.
I sympathize with those women who are disappointed, hurt and even angry. After all, many women (including my 110-year-old grandmother) have waited lifetimes for the opportunity to elect and experience a woman president. They thought 2008 was their time and their year. Quite frankly, I did too. Unfortunately, in politics no one has the market on times and years. Though sexism probably did play a part (as did and as will racism) the real factor is not what Senator Clinton didn’t do, or Bill Clinton’s role, or media bias; it’s what Senator Obama did. He won at the grassroots and in the trenches. His victory is historic – -particularly for those of us who grew up in the segregated South. Like John Kennedy in 1960, Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy in 1968 and Bill Clinton in 1992, he also energized a new generation. Additionally, when someone can raise $55 million in one month, $45 million of it online and without hosting a single fundraiser, you have to acknowledge the strength. And when it comes to communicating, Senator Obama’s the best we’ve seen since President Ronald Reagan and may in fact be better. He’s also showing maturity beyond his years.
Interestingly, many younger women are actively supporting Senator Obama. As others have noted before about this campaign, youth and change at times trumped gender. The real test, however, will be in November whether mothers, aunts, grandmothers and their friends can be influenced by others. I asked my grandmother if she would vote for Senator Obama and, though he’s not her first choice, she said yes.
Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen in a luncheon at the Clinton School before a recent speech here said he liked and respected all three of the frontrunners (Senators McCain, Clinton and Obama). Secretary Cohen served in President Clinton’s cabinet and was the best man at John McCain’s wedding. So he speaks with some authority. But he said — based on his travels around the globe — that the world’s choice in 2008 is Senator Obama. Why? Because a large percentage of the world’s population is not Caucasian. There’s certainly been very little reporting or emphasis on this particular point, but perhaps there will be in the months ahead. We’ll soon see Senator Obama traveling internationally. Pay attention to the crowds he draws and the response he receives because world reaction may well influence American reaction. Not too long ago, 75,000 people turning out for Senator Obama at a rally in Oregon certainly created a national buzz. His crowd of 32,000 (17,000 inside and 15,000 outside) Tuesday night in St. Paul wasn’t shabby either.
It is entirely too early to determine a November winner. We don’t know who the vice presidential candidates will be; we don’t know what will be happening with the war, the economy, gas prices, food prices, international relations, health care, social issues and other matters. We do know Senator McCain is by far the strongest candidate the Republicans could nominate in a year where Republicans face potentially big losses in the Congress; a time when a large number of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction and when President George W. Bush’s approval ratings are in the tank. But Senator McCain is a war hero and a maverick with experience. Even his critics acknowledge years of fierce independence. We also know the Republican National Committee is far ahead of the Democratic National Committee in raising money. Senator McCain should sweep the South with possible challenges in North Carolina and Virginia. If Senator Clinton is on the ticket, add Arkansas to the Southern states in play. Senator McCain has a good chance in Michigan where Democrats have been winning. But Senator Obama will strongly contest Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Nevada and New Mexico where Republicans have won in the past. Current polls are projecting a very close Electoral College vote. Let’s see what they say after the conventions in late August and early September.
Given many factors including the strong way she finished the campaign, Senator Clinton must be given even more serious vice presidential consideration. There’s precedent for such a move. Look back to 1960 when a young Senator from Massachusetts defeated an older experienced Senator from Texas in the primary. Later, the two rivals teamed up making President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson winners. Though times were different then, that partnership didn’t develop until the convention.
President or not, vice president or not, Senator Clinton will remain a major force. She made it very clear in her remarks Tuesday night that she wasn’t going away. She solidified support from many of the millions who voted for her and who now anxiously await a signal on “where we go from here.” The speech reinforced her already powerful bargaining chip, and I assume a “where we go from here” strategy will be determined in the near term after some well earned rest.
If Senator Obama loses in November, there’s 2012 for her to consider. If he wins and she’s not vice president, there’s a career in the Senate, maybe Governor of New York, or possibly the Cabinet or the Supreme Court. Either way, one thing is certain: she will be a very formidable and important player in America’s future, and if she’s not on the ticket I hope she will spend some of her time at the Clinton School and at other educational institutions. Four decades ago at the University of Arkansas Law School she was a great teacher. Throughout this presidential campaign and though she didn’t win, she proved she still is one.
Posted by ERIC WILSON – The following is post from Clinton School student Sanford Johnson’s personal blog. He is working in Cape Town, South Africa this summer with the South African Education and Enviornmental Porject. Here he shares a few stories about his travel from Arkansas to South Africa.
I’ve been here for over a week now, so I’m a little behind on the details. With that in mind, I’d like to share some of the valuable lessons I’ve learned over the past week.
If you think having a flight cancelled is horrible, things could actually be a lot worse. Try making it to the airport, only to find out that your plane isn’t there because the airline went out of business…a month and a half ago!! That’s what happened to us in Johannesburg. The only thing worse that seeing no plane is seeing the bare wall where the airline’s logo used to be.
Nobody will ever ask me where I’m from during this entire summer. Every time I open my mouth, I might as well be singing “Proud to Be an American” by Lee Greenwood. In addition, never tell a South African “that dog won’t hunt”. It takes too long to explain.
Take three Americans, put them in the back of a taxi driving “on the other side”, and watch them fear for their lives at every right turn! It’s not as scary now, but that first full day was rough.
KFC is the Starbucks of South Africa. The KFC-per-capita rate here easily rivals a majority of states in the Southern U.S. I’m still hoping to find a Chili’s before Amanda gets here next week.
Coming to South Africa is a great way to limit the amount of news you hear about the 2008 presidential race. I’m happy to know that the Democratic nomination will be decided by the time I get back. Which brings me to the most important piece of wisdom…
Building a democracy is hard. As with many countries in the past, South Africa is learning how hard the process truly is. Building an effective democracy – one that all citizens take part in – is also very difficult to get right on the first try. The United States has been at it since 1776, and we’re still working out the kinks. South Africa has only had full democracy for a little over 10 years. While the 90s brought happiness to millions of newly-freed South Africans, these citizens are now looking to the government to address education, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and a host of other issues. I believe that major steps toward improving democracy usually come with new generations of leaders, so perhaps it will take new leaders to address these pressing issues. We’ll see how it goes.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – The Scholars Garden is the area of the Clinton Presidential Park between the Clinton School and the National Archives staff offices. The garden, which is a wireless hotspot, is a place where people can gather, relax, have lunch and work on their laptop computers.
When the Scholars Garden was first built, the “mounds” which were developed as part of the landscaping were merely for decor. However, they soon became outdoor stages and electrical outlets were added so music could be played and hot food could be served from them. Still one had to walk up and walk through what we in Arkansas call “monkey grass” to access the top of each.
We’ve informally named these mounds “Tyler Denton Mounds” after the former Clinton Foundation director of special events who now works for Bono in Washington and who was instrumental in the opening of the Clinton Center and Park. There’s Denton I, II, III and IV. President Clinton spoke at an event honoring the Clinton Center volunteers from Denton II. I also spoke there at a reception when I was named Dean of the Clinton School. Most recently, we had a spirited game of Clinton School baggo (Russ Swearingen won top prize) there. And, in a very moving and powerful ceremony last winter, names of those who had died from AIDS were read continously from Denton IV over a 24-hour period.
As you will note in the picture, stairs to each of the Tyler Denton mounds have been added making them even more accessible for use by the public, the Clinton Foundation, the National Archives and the Clinton School.
New stairs have been added to Denton I.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – In case you missed it, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last week ran a feature story about the working homeless shelter Our House and the Clinton School’s impact there. Clinton School inaugural grad and current faculty member Joe Ballard did his final Capstone project with Our House, where he completed an extensive application that landed five full-time volunteers for the shelter that provides support to bring people out of homelessness. Ballard’s work brought five AmeriCorp VISTA volunteers with an estimated worth of $375,000 over three years to the shelter. Joe’s work shows the value of the Clinton School’s public service projects, not only to the students but to the community itself. Download this PDF to read the story: our-house.pdf.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – We just got word that Clinton School grad Christin Harper has been hired as a senior policy analyst at the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). Christin completed her Clinton School Capstone (final) project this year with DHS, where she worked on immigrant policy and planning. She completed her international project in Vietnam last summer where she worked with Heifer International on developing handicraft workshops for persons with disabilities. She earned her undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University in European Studies and French.
Congrats to Christin!
Q&A with DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD –
Q: What’s it like at the Clinton School during the summer?
A. While different from the traditional school year, it’s still a busy time. Our students are working on their summer international public service projects, and we’re working to make sure they’ve arrived safely in their respective locations on all six inhabited continents. While some have experienced airline delays and spent far more time than expected in airports, we’ve been fortunate. We’re also planning orientation for our new class arriving in August, finalizing the fall and spring curriculum schedule and school calendar, working on budgets and coordinating our summer, fall and spring public programs.
Q. Was it sad to see them leave?
A. Exciting is more descriptive. Having seen the personal growth as a result of the international experiences from our those in our two previous classes, I know some of our students will have life-changing experiences. What’s more difficult for me is realizing how quickly these nine months (August 2007 to May 2008) have passed. This fall about half of our students will be returning to Little Rock for their final capstone (individual) public service projects. Others will be working all over the country and the world.
Q. How do you keep in touch with students abroad?
A. Email makes international communication much easier, and some of our students have blogs. I read them daily.
Q. What can you tell us about your new class that will be entering this fall?
A. It’s very strong. We’ll be announcing the members in a few weeks.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – Three Clinton School students — Julie West, Carly Benkov and Molly Brunkow – are completing their International Public Service Projects in Nepal where the country’s Constituent Assembly voted yesterday to abolish the monarchy and declared Nepal a federal republic. West, who is working with a rural education and development program in Kathmandu, reports on yesterday’s events on her blog:
Yesterday was a big day in Kathmandu and all of Nepal. The Constituent Assembly voted, as expected, to abolish the monarchy and Nepal was declared a federal republic. We had a national holiday, in fact, the first National Republic Day. It was a peaceful day and the people were out in a festival atmosphere. I toured Durbar Square and enjoyed the beautiful weather. It is expected to take up to two more years to write the new Consitution. The assembly also decided to establish a ceremonial Presidency but still have to decide the functions of that office.
While many in the country are still on holiday and the banks and certain businesses were closed. My office, READ Nepal, is an oasis amidst the sometimes chaotic noise and traffice of Kathmandu. More on my little oasis later.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – The Associated Press has a preview story on the late state Senator Vada Sheid’s book, “Nothing Personal, Just Politics,” which will be read tonight at the Clinton School. Click here for the article. Sheid, of Mountain Home, was the first woman elected in her own right to the Arkansas House and Arkansas Senate. Governor Mike Beebe, who served with Sheid in the Senate, will be one of the readers.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – Our nextdoor neighbor, the Clinton Presidential Library, launched a new brochure today to promote the “Billgrimage” tour of Clinton-related sites throughout Arkansas. Library director Terri Garner also discussed possible exhibit changes to freshen up the museum. Click here for an Associated Press story about possible changes. Here’s an excerpt:
The permanent exhibits at the Clinton Presidential Library could be revamped or entirely changed as the landmark dedicated to the former president’s time in office approaches its fifth anniversary, the facility’s director said Tuesday.
Library director Terri Garner said discussions have begun about how best to showcase Bill Clinton’s pursuits since leaving office in January 2001. That could include displays about work done by the William J. Clinton Foundation, which focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention and environmental policy.
Then there’s also the matter of his wife, Hillary, and her own political career in the years since.
“You have to be a little bit careful because this is a library about his presidency,” Garner said. “However, there needs to be an aspect of the ongoing post-presidency as well.”