27 October 2007

A New Steve Earle Fan

While I don't plan to start writing music reviews, I do want to take this opportunity to mention the latest CD from Steve Earle, Washington Square Serenade.

Not only do I know little about music (aside from whether I like something or not), but there are several clear indications that my musical ignorance is actually profound. First, I don't even know what name to use when referring to an artists most recent release. Is it a CD, album, disk? I'm simply too old to know the terminology. Second, in the first paragraph of this post, I had no idea what kind of grammar to use when mentioning Earle's CD/disk/album. I guess the answer is buried somewhere in the Chicago Manual of Style, but I'm much too lazy to look it up.

Anyway, let me get on with this. I don't know much about Steve Earle. My Lovely Partner is a big fan--I think she has all of his albums (or whatever they are). I bought his latest several weeks ago when wondering around near the record-store. I listened.....and I do like some of the songs, especially "City of Immigrants" which is a tribute to the diversity of New York city where Earle now resides. It is refreshing to hear an artist sing about immigrants and what they have brought, and still bring, to this country.

But here is why I highly recommend the album. In the liner notes (yes they still exist, although hard to read), Earle includes a few paragraphs about the city which he loves. He even mentions Horace Greeley in those notes--a name probably familiar to few people. Then at the bottom of the liner notes comes this: P.S. Fuck Lou Dobbs

If I was indifferent to Steve Earle before, I don't have that same feeling now! Anybody who would write "Fuck Lou Dobbs" on his liner notes deserves respect as an artist and as a human-being. I now even plan to go back and listen to some of his earlier works. He has made a fan out of me.

24 October 2007

Bill Clinton

Last week during the SCHIP debate in Congress, a few Republicans took the opportunity to link that "socialistic" children's health care legislation with Hillary and Bill Clinton. One conservative gave a floor speech connecting SCHIP with what he called the "Hillary-Care" health care plan of the early 1990s. He went on to mention other evils like Bill Clinton, the Clinton presidency, and the big-government programs of those years.

I can understand the need to take shots at Senator Clinton--she is running for president. And the Republicans still view her as a lightning-rod and a polarizing figure. Just mention Hillary's name, they believe, and conservatives all over the country start foaming at the mouth.

comment: You know.....this Hillary as a polarizing figure theory is nothing but a myth. There appears to be no evidence to back it up--it is simply crap which is advanced by the right-wingnuts and then mindlessly repeated by the lazy mainstream media. But this is a subject for another blog entry. I am going somewhere else with today's post.

Anyway, Hillary can take care of herself, and I am sure she will. But what makes me snicker with amusement is that these stupid-ass conservatives think they will gain votes by trashing Bill Clinton and his presidency. Do we want to go back to the Clinton years, they ask? I know my answer.

Bill Clinton is popular, charismatic, intelligent, inspiring, and the absolute best campaigner of this generation. I don't remember anyone since Robert Kennedy who gets crowds fired-up like he does. And please, don't tell me how great a campaigner Ronald Reagan was--that doddering old fool wasn't in the same league with RFK and Clinton. If Republicans want to make Bill Clinton a campaign issue--one might say "bring 'em on."

The former president will do nothing but help the New York senator in her quest for the oval office. George Stephanopoulos once said Clinton was the most amazing campaigner he ever met--he would campaign nonstop for 20 hours straight and still be fresh and ready to keep going. The Republicans will get sick of seeing this guy. He is the energizer bunny.....he is the little engine that could.....and next to Hillary, he is their worst nightmare.

And one of these days, maybe soon--historians will begin judging the Clinton presidency. And I am sure conservatives will be incensed when those evaluations turn out to be positive. Historians will suggest that Clinton did a pretty good job (especially compared to what followed). Hell, I'm a historian and I have been saying this for several years now--so I guess we can conclude that the favorable pronouncements have already begun.

In the latest New York magazine (22 October), Joel Heilemann writes about the contrasting college experiences of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He focuses on Bill and Hillary's courtship at Yale where many of her friends "could never figure out what Hillary saw in him." So many of their classmates viewed Bill as shallow; a nice guy who would "just tell stories and try to entertain them." Even those people underestimated the man. They saw the folksy, story-telling Southern politician, but never grasped the intelligent person beneath that facade.

I know that many of my own friends on the far-left still have mixed feelings about Bill Clinton because he didn't do enough for liberals during his two terms. Yes, he did triangulate, and he also moved the party to the middle (a party that couldn't win otherwise). I respectfully disagree with them. Politics is about incremental change--and we do what we can with our mostly moderate officeholders. Tell me we are better off now. Tell me we wouldn't all welcome even a moderate Democrat who generally agrees with our views over the quasi-fascistic brownshirts that now occupy the White House and other high positions of our government.

I think that historians will also see that Bill Clinton understood the 21st century and what was in store for America. He knew that the United States couldn't go it alone. He also grasped the changes taking place in the global economy. It seems so long ago doesn't it. A president that understood the changing nature of the world.....a president that understood America's role in the community of nations....and a president that even read books. Then came the dark ages.

If the Republicans want to focus on the Clinton years--they should go right ahead. They can have the legacy of Mr. 25% in the polls, and we will take the Clinton presidency--or should I say the first Clinton presidency.