Bill Clinton, Magician?

Kym Kemp / Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008 @ 11:56 p.m. / Family , Humboldt , Our Culture ,  Politics

We sat in the living room. I turned the radio to KHUM and began cooking dinner. My oldest has gone retro recently and dug out his old Gameboy. My middle son lounged by the fire reading a novel, they ignored the news as always while I avidly sucked it all in as always. But, then Bill Clinton began to speak.

A sparse population, a remote location, and California’s position in the primaries conspired to keep candidates and high profile politicians far from even our county seat. The last time a president was here was in the ‘60’s. Before that, it was Herbert Hoover. But now, with California a player in the upcoming primary, Bill Clinton showed up in Eureka to give a standard stump speech in support of his wife. Apparently, more than a thousand disappointed people were turned away from an overcrowded facility but here in our remote mountain home, Clinton worked his magic through the radio.

First one teenager, then the other began to listen. Staunch Obama supporters (for reasons having more to do with Obama’s perceived outsider status than actual policies), I expected to hear many snarky comments. But first Clinton made them laugh and then he drew them in with his fabled warmth and (apparent) sincerity. We missed some of his speech as they asked me questions about what had Bill Clinton done as president. However, we heard enough that they fell a little under his spell. At the end one son said, “If she talks like him, like a real person, she’s got my vote.” We chatted for another half an hour about everything from the Peace Accords to Bill playing the sax to Monica to the deficit.

I expect his magic to wear off tomorrow. I expect tomorrow they’ll be thinking about the issues and wondering (like me) if Hilary Clinton will make the changes they want to see (and whether they can wheedle more video time out of me). But tonight Bill waved a wand and made presidents seem like people and made political policies seem relevant. And, they care a little bit more about the process and want to know more about policies. So a thank you to all the people who worked so hard to bring Bill Clinton here, you and the president made politics tangible to boys learning to be men.

Related tags: california, campaign, charisma, clinton, election, family, humboldt, issues, northcoast, politician, politics, president, primary, rural, son

12 comments

  • I saw Obama speak live a couple of years ago and had never seen anything like it. He oozes charisma.
    I can’t decide who I prefer, Hillary or Obama. I’ll have to flip a coin for the primary.
  • I’m leaning to Obama but I need to sit down with a list of issues and make sure but I could live with Clinton, Edwards or Obama. This is the best choice in candidates I’ve ever seen.

    I saw Obama at the democratic convention on tv and he is an incredible speaker, too.

    Just the fact that Clinton came up here made by my boys listen to politics in more than a passing fashion. I know the people who volunteered to help make this happen worked really hard and they had to deal with a lot of other people’s frustration as those who stood in line for hours weren’t able to get in. But,this made a difference in my kids’ lives and I suspect they aren’t the only ones.
  • Kym
    Remember when you were all upset about finding your ancestors were involved in Indian massacres, and I went to the trouble to try to explain to you that it had more to do with the times and survival than character?

    Unless I’m wildly mistaken, you had a religious, conservative upbringing. Mormon? What made you decide to go with the Democratic party candidates?

    This is an honest question. One that I have a lot of concerns myself over. I don’t think that I could trust a president that had to pray for wisdom and guidance. But I have a tendency to be conservative in spending. I’m for free education and subsidized healthcare, but if a person is not willing to work to support himself, he can just go ahead and starve. I feel sorry for people with genuine need, and think that they should be helped. But the bum that lives in the doorways, and trashes the neighborhood, and pees in the street, needs to be forced to clean up his act.

    I KNOW that our politicians have sold our blue collar jobs to China, and other offshore countries, so the stock market can make a killing. And all of them talk about helping all the out of work people find jobs, and I know full well that is only campaign rhetoric.

    I guess what I want you to tell me is where do we find an honest politician, and how would we know that person if we found him/her?
  • Ernie, You ask some big introspective questions.

    I didn’t (those many years ago) start out solely as a Democrat. Over the years I have registered as everything from a Republican to a member of the Green party with stops in the Independent and Peace and Freedom parties along the way.

    Although the Mormon religion is conservative on many social issues, most of the people I came into contact with, most especially my mother, raised me to believe that we are all God’s children, that kindness and forgiveness are the highest virtues, and God doesn’t ask us to judge (judge not..).

    In my teenage years I became passionate about fairness and justice thanks to some good teachers, Picton, Woods, Starr, Holke, the Fosters, Luce and some great friends (anyone remember Society for the Prevention of Brain Atrophy.)

    As I studied and worked, I searched for the party that most represented my ideals AND had some chance of getting them implemented.

    Although I no longer believe in God, the wonderful people I was raised with make me unprejudiced against having a religious leader. I see religion as null rather like skin color or gender, neither a plus nor a negative. I do find using religion as a stick to beat your own agenda with as Huckabee does, unpleasant and difficult to digest.

    I think we all, in our own way, pray for wisdom and guidance. I know that I have no belief in a higher power but I pause often searching for the right path and that is a form of prayer, just as prayer correctly used is a form of reflection.

    I also am conservative in spending issues. This is one reason I have never understood the Republicans vilification of Clinton and support of Bush. The deficit speaks there. However, I am one of the few people I know that supports tax increases in some cases. Actually, I would prefer to reduce military spending and increase education, health, and social welfare programs. I am pretty anti military which makes many of Hilary Clinton’s votes hard to choke down.

    Ernie, I have to say that I don’t know where to find an honest politician and I’m pretty sure even the most honest person in the world has moments when they wiggle. I’m still searching among the issues and the gut feeling I have on whether the candidate is going to implement changes that I would like to see. (They can and do tell you anything. What are they actually going to do?) One of the reasons I’m leaning towards Obama though I do not agree with all his policies is that he took an unpopular position on Iraq in the beginning at a time when he must have thought it might hurt his chances of being reelected. This makes me favor him on the “character issue.” But, I’m not fond of other positions he has taken and, is he, like Hilary Clinton, able to get stuff done.

    I loved, no Love Jimmy Carter. He is my favorite president ever but he was ineffective in many ways. And I’m enough of a pragmatist to want the business of government to proceed.

    So, I hope I answered your questions. I know you made me think. In fact, I’m still mulling things over and wondering if in 5 minutes I’ll have to come back and add to this post.

    Its scary seeing the attacks and nasty comments on Eric and Heraldo’s and even other people’s posts to put myself out here so nakedly. But, if I can’t risk looking naive or foolish, then I have no business being a writer.
  • All very thoughtful and honest answers. My problem is; I look for that great and charismatic leader, that people would believe and follow, and who sees things the same as I do. I think that Bill Clinton had the Charisma, but he also gave a lot of factory jobs to NAFTA. Although what he does with his private life is his business, I think he let the American people down with all of his “affairs”. Not exactly commanding of respect.

    I follow you on the God thing though, as a child I spent a lot of time in church. I kept expecting someone to tell me; “Okay, this is all just make-believe to make the kids behave themselves, it’s not real”, but it never happened. I tried to believe, as my friends ridiculed me and said; “You don’t think that all this just happened do you???” My theory was, well yeah, it all just happened. Either that or God just happened, and to me, that was a bigger stretch of the imagination.

    As far as who (There is no “whom” in my language) I want for president, I’m still confused. I think that I’m waiting for the second coming of Jesus, and I’m not event religious.

    As far as being concerned about how your ideas are viewed, I don’t think that you need to worry, you are very respectful of other people’s ideas, and you don’t push yourself and your ideas on other people. You should do fine.

    Thanks for a very thoughtful answer; it makes me feel better about some of the ways that I think. If you decide to run for president, I’ll vote for you.
  • Don’t you think that what most of us want from a president is for her to be as smart and charismatic as Bill Clinton as good hearted and moral as Jimmy Carter, as willing to sacrifice as Lincoln and as visionary as Martin Luther King. On top of that we want to feel that she’s ‘just folks’ and can understand our lives. So we all have impossible standards. Nobody’s going to live up to that job description.

    You know what else I’d like in a president, a lot more talking about the issues and a lot less trumpeting their own horn.

    And while we are on the subject of impossible wishes—how about a media that talks about issues and not the horse race? They spend hours discussing which candidate is currently the favorite and seconds comparing and exposing the differences and the results of those differences between each candidate’s proposals!

    Thanks for the thoughtful questions. I’m sitting here with my voter’s pamphlet and getting ready to study the issues and you put me in the right mood.
  • Amen! Great post and thoughtful comments. Thank you.
  • Kym,
    There is a reason I won’t go political with my website. Now, I will make snide remarks about society, but I really do not like the game of politics. I believe our community, or any community would rather draw lines and fued rather than forget about their political beliefs and roll up their sleeves to work together to solve our problems. You don’t need politicians to tell you how to work together.

    This whole blame game that appeared after the Clinton visit was a disgusting display of our local citizenry. What difference does it really make in your everyday life whether you got to see President Clinton speak or not. The message was delivered on KHUM. Wasn’t that good enough?

    Looking at the paparazzi mentality of the locals was embarrasing. Every photo I have seen showed dozens of cameras and cell phones snapping photographs. “Oh look everyone, I have a crappy photo of President Clinton on my cell phone.” See..I was there….that makes me extra special”

    My opinion. It would have been fine by me if it were a closed attendance and the only way you could see him was to be a member of the Hillary for President campaign. Other than that, you could hear it on the radio. Why was it so doggone important to see the man and take his picture. Why? Because of celebrity.

    So….who wins elections? Celebrities. And we’re all falling for it.

    Decline to state. Vote Independent.
  • What a great set of posts, here. I’d like to live in a country where religion was not a factor in politics, but I know that’s political suicide in the here-and-now. So are they lying when they say their religious, or is it heartfelt, and which answer would I rather have? Do I want them to be dishonest but wink to me that they’re just doing it to survive as candidates, or do I want them to be honest but subject to the thoughts of a religious tradition that I probably don’t understand and may not agree with? Many of the “founding fathers” were humanists and abhorred the idea of mixing religion and politics. Were their times actually more enlightened than ours? Sometimes I wonder (of course, that whole slavery thing pretty much crushes that idea).
  • I’m not to the coin toss phase yet, but I wonder- how many people are actually supporting Clinton because they want Bill back in the White House?

    What I remember is, at the time a lot of Democrats were less then enchanted with Hillary and now the same lot want her to be President?

    Makes me wonder.
  • I don’t feel like going on a long rant here. Hillary’s reaction to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon (she very publicly loved it) convinced me that she cannot possibly find solutions to the crisis in the Middle East. The possibility of electing an honest candidate will not exist until we control the financing of campaigns. Obama attracts me with his emphasis on small contributors despite his centrist politics. Republicans since Nixon have tossed fiscal responsibility when they found that deficits reduce funding for social programs. Welfare is no longer the Republican enemy. Now it is immigration. Not the people who employ illegal immigrants, but the immigrants themselves. We are facing a profound economic crisis which will be difficult to solve since tax increases ( the only real solution) are a negative economic influence during a recession. Forget about money for schools, libraries, recreational facilities and social programs, we have to bail out the errant moneylenders. This is not going to improve soon. We need real wisdom in Washington.
    Sorry Kym, it was a rant after all.
  • Long comments aren’t rants. They are thoughtful responses that make a blogger feel they are contributing to the intellectual discourse on the subject and I love reading them!

    With Ekovox, I’m horrified by our (my) susceptibility to charisma/celebrity status.

    Chris, I don’t think “our founding fathers’ times were more enlightened but some of the individuals were sure more enlightened on some subjects than the mass of people are today. I get frustrated at people making important choices (and I’m including myself here) without doing research.

    Animar, I’m actually not against the voting for Hillary because you think that you are getting two smart leaders for the price of one. After all, I voted for Bill partly because I hoped Hillary would be effective in helping bring some changes.

    Ben, What do you say that Washington slows down military spending and pours it into everything from tax cuts for the recession to books for libraries.
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