Bring Us Bubba
Let's face it. Bill Clinton has to speak at UB.
This is a matter of necessity. The ex-president has the opportunity to spread his wisdom, his style and his sax at the biggest public university in New York. But after a recent dispute between the SA and the administration, the coolest president in modern American history is being denied a chance to appear as one UB's Distinguished Speakers.
Now, that's really too bad. I want to hear Billy tell me that he can feel my pain. I want to watch the man that partied up in Harlem this summer, play the sax. I have to see the politician who became America's hero even after he committed perjury and received sexual favors from women of questionable beauty. Any person, let alone any president, who can accomplish that has to be The Man.
SA President Christian Oliver and SA Vice President Joshua Korman pressed for his appearance, but, according to the officers, they were informed that Clinton is too controversial. Later, William J. Regan, the director of conferences and special events for UB, said that he would be better in 2003 or 2004, because "the story he could tell in two or three years is better than the story he could tell now."
Regan believes that an upcoming presidential election and the publishing of his memoirs would be worthy of attention at that time. But if it is all written in his autobiography, why would we need to hear him rehash it in a speech? Not to mention the fact that Clinton today is a newsworthy celebrity who can steal the spotlight anytime he wants. Clinton knows how to work a crowd in a way that sleepy-eyed, stuttering Dubya can only dream of.
You want proof of Clinton's power? Check out the administration turn-around President Greiner told The Buffalo News last Friday. A day after Clinton's rejection made front page news, Greiner said, "I would be personally delighted to have him on campus," and promised to write a letter of invitation. This followed news that Clinton aides said he could appear at UB for free, and not the projected $125,000.
I was fortunate to watch Clinton with my high school government class in 1999, when his Buffalo appearance packed HSBC Arena. But even from our spot in the nose-bleeder seats, Billy gave a speech that energized a winter-weary crowd.
Needless to say, if Clinton can get a whole audience at HSBC on its feet, he should have no trouble getting a sold out crowd to cheer at Alumni Arena. The SA officers also note that Clinton's visit would bring business opportunities. Either way, if Clinton comes, the SA would bring the greatest performance since Outkast, when they tore the roof off Alumni this past Spring Fest.
So what is difficult to understand is denying Clinton because he is "controversial." As Dennis Black notes, UB has had its share of controversial speakers, including the time when the late Khalid Abdul Muhammad gave a speech. In case you don't remember, Muhammad was Louis Farrakhan's right-hand man in the Nation of Islam, who said, "you can't stop me from calling the white man the devil," and referred to the Jews as "blood suckers."
Now that's enough to make fellatio and perjury sound like clean, wholesome fun.
But more questionable is the current contention that Clinton is not a relevant speaker today. Even when Bush was taking office, Clinton was stealing the limelight earlier this year with his laundry list of pardons. Although most of America could've cared less, Clinton nonetheless was able to use his scandal power to capture the press.
What really shows his relevance is the creation of his Harlem office that sparked a gala of applause late last July. On the day he opened his office, a thousand plus crowd came out to cheer on his arrival. Clinton's office was heralded as a great economic opportunity for the troubled area of Harlem. The man had the streets of the community wrapped in celebration as he stole the media spotlight from Bush.
This is how you could tell that Bubba was at it again: after CNN gave split-screen coverage of Clinton and a speech by Bush, the network opted to devote the whole screen to the ex-president.
Clinton's office intends to raise money to help revitalize the local businesses of Harlem, as well as to fund relief for the AIDS epidemic in Africa. I don't even remember Bush ever mentioning "Africa" and "AIDS" together in a sentence.
Clinton's Harlem relocation represents a worthy effort by an ex-president to reach out to minorities. Not to mention it promotes a city's economic viability. There's even a lesson for UB in this. Greiner, who was criticized in The Buffalo News on Thursday for doing little for Buffalo, could stand to follow Clinton's example and set up more outreach services to the Queen City.
Clinton is the man who experimented with pot in college (remember kids, he only inhaled), indulged in casual sex in office, and got away with sparkling public approval ratings. Therefore, how can anyone deny his identification with today's college crowd?
Think of it this way: he is the only president in history to be impeached over a blowjob. Now that's a legacy I would deem for the ages.
When I voted for the first time last year, I came out of that election with two thoughts in mind. The first was wondering what all the tree-huggers who voted for Ralph Nader were thinking.
The second was my wish that, regardless of the constitutional amendment, I could have voted for Clinton for a third term.