"Bill and Hillary Clinton; What if Hillary Becomes President in 2016?" By Franklin and Betty J. Parker, email@example.com, Dialogue Given at Uplands Village, Pleasant Hill, TN, Monday, June 17, 2013.
FRANK: Hold onto your seat folks; it's going to be a bumpy, sexy story about Bill and Hillary Clinton. We chose to review William H. Chafe, Bill and Hillary: The Politics of the Personal, published in 2012, because the Clintons are, in our time, what FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt were in the 1930s-40s: a powerful, controversial, talented political team.
BETTY: Conservative Republicans have disliked the Clintons' efforts to uplift low income "have-nots" at the expense of middle- and upper-class "haves." Hostile critics see the Clintons as manipulative politicians--Bill as sexually immoral, Hillary as an unscrupulous shrew.
FRANK: Recall that in late 1998-early 1999 the Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Clinton on charges of perjury; that is, lying about having sex with Monica Lewinsky, and obstruction of justice by withholding evidence.
BETTY: The U.S. Senate rejected the House impeachment vote. Charges were dropped. Hillary won sympathy and respect by backing and saving Bill from impeachment shame.
FRANK: Note that Bill, born 1946, and Hillary, 1947, were the first post-WW II baby boomer political team to reach political heights through Bill's elections, at a young age, as: Arkansas Attorney General (1976-78), 2 years; Arkansas Governor (1978-80; 1982-92), 12 years; U.S. President (1993-2001), 8 years.
BETTY: Add Hillary's 8 years as New York's U. S. Senator (2001-09); and 4 years as U.S. Secretary of State (2009-13); 34 years of combined public service. Hillary's many friends are now urging her to run in 2016 to become the first woman U.S. president.
FRANK: Bill's early motives and ambitions were shaped by his unusual mother, Virginia Dell Cassidy (1923-94), and her unusual parents.
BETTY: Born in small town Hope, Arkansas, Virginia Cassidy had four husbands.
FRANK: Fun-loving Virginia, later a nurse anesthetist, and her mother, Edith Grisham Cassidy (1901-68), a strict self-taught nurse, both raised little Bill.
BETTY: Virginia's father, Bill's grandpa James Eldridge Cassidy (1898-1957), had a grocery store in a poor African-American neighborhood. His fair treatment and generous credit for African Americans endeared him to all.
FRANK: Flirtatious Virginia Cassidy first trained as a nurse in a Shreveport, LA, hospital. There she met and married an equally flirtatious William Jefferson Blythe, Jr. (1918-46).
BETTY: The Blythes moved to Chicago for better jobs. Virginia, pregnant, went home to Hope, Ark., to have her baby. Her husband Bill Blythe, driving from Chicago to be with her, died in a car crash 3 months before Virginia gave birth to William Jefferson Blythe, III (Aug. 19, 1946), called "Billy."
FRANK: Billy was age 2 when his widowed mother Virginia, needing to earn more money, moved to New Orleans to train as a nurse anesthetist. Billy, living with his grandparents, loved playing in grandpa's store with African Americans. The family's lack of prejudice was rare.
BETTY: In New Orleans, the attractive widow Virginia Cassidy Blythe met Roger Clinton (1908-67), a car dealer, married him in 1950 when Billy was age 4, against her parents' warning that Roger Clinton was twice divorced, a gambler, and abusive when drunk.
FRANK: The Clintons moved to the thriving resort city of Hot Springs, Ark. During Roger Clinton's drunken sprees he did abuse Virginia. Virginia gave birth to Roger's son, Roger Clinton, Jr. (July 25, 1956), that's Billy's half brother, when Billy was age 10. In his early teens, Billy, big and burly, physically confronted his stepfather and stopped Roger from abusing his mother. Bill urged his mother Virginia to divorce Roger Clinton. She did so, but feeling sorry, remarried him to give him a home. Bill, still in high school, now the family protector, with his mother's approval, through the family lawyer, legally changed his name to William Jefferson Clinton.
BETTY: Intelligent, affable, and ambitious, Bill Clinton as a Hot Springs high school junior was one of only two Arkansas students chosen to go to the annual summer American Legion-sponsored Boys Nations in Washington, D.C. In July 1963, in the White House Rose Garden, after Pres. John F. Kennedy's welcoming speech, a pushy 6' 3" 17-year-old Bill Clinton was, as he had planned, photographed shaking Pres. Kennedy's hand.
FRANK: Bill Clinton's early ambition for high public service was thus shaped by: 1: his flashy adoring mother telling him often: you are important and will be the president of the United States.
BETTY: 2: Secrets to be kept included his drunken abusive stepfather and his own uncertainty about his actual father. To overcome secret shame and redeem family honor, Bill Clinton determined he must rise high, become important.
FRANK: 3: His Grandpa James Eldridge Cassidy's generous uplifting of have-not African Americans, plus Bill's outreach to his drink-dependent stepfather inspired Bill to want to uplift the needy.
BETTY: 4: Bill's drive for public service, heightened by JFK's handshake, was confirmed by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech (Aug. 28, 1963), which Bill memorized.
FRANK: 5: the family's move to Hot Springs, Ark., got Bill into better schools which led him on to Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown University, then a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and Yale Law School. In thriving Hot Springs Bill gained worldly sophistication and a sense of mission to someday lift Arkansas up high from near bottom in education and income.
BETTY: Thus motivated, blessed with a brilliant mind, charm, and drive---Bill excelled in his studies, in extracurricular activities, in election to high student offices, and in winning many honors.
FRANK: On his high school counselor's advice, with scholarships and his mother's support, Bill attended highly regarded Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Washington, D.C. (1964-68).
BETTY: There Bill was president of his freshman and sophomore classes. He carried with him Georgetown history Prof. Carroll Quigley's (1910-77) teaching that the future will be better only if the present generation sacrifices to make it happen.
FRANK: Bill worked during summer 1967 for Arkansas's U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright's (1905-95) Foreign Relations Committee. Bill shared Fulbright's conviction that the Vietnam War (1955-75) was immoral.
BETTY: Encouraged by Sen. Fulbright, himself a former Rhodes Scholar (1926-28), Bill, on graduation, was chosen to be a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, England.
FRANK: While in England Bill was subject to the Vietnam War draft, actively protested the war, agonized over his friends killed in Vietnam, and maneuvered himself out of the draft.
BETTY: Called a draft dodger during his 1992 Presidential campaign, Bill was less than honest about how he had evaded the draft.
FRANK: After Oxford, Bill enrolled at Yale University Law School (19, Juris Doctor), where he met Hillary Diane Rodham.
BETTY: Hillary Rodham grew up in Chicago's lily white, upwardly mobile suburb of Park Ridge. Her father Hugh Rodham (1911–93), textile wholesaler, staunch Republican, had been a tough WW II Navy drill master. His barked commands had to be obeyed; his opinion never challenged.
FRANK: When Hillary's mother, Dorothy Howell Rodham (1919-2011) contradicted her husband, gruff, authoritarian Hugh Rodham's sarcastic put downs were variations of: "How would you know!" If ashamed in company she decided to leave the room, he would say: "Don't let the closing door knob hit you in the fanny."
BETTY: Hillary and her two younger brothers loved both parents. They knew their mother had been an abandoned child of divorced parents, became a housekeeper and nanny for a family who raised her, taught her to read, encouraged her to become a Chicago secretary where she met and married Hugh Rodham.
FRANK: Mother Dorothy Rodham, a devout Methodist, taught Hillary and her two younger brothers to love and help one another and others. Mother Rodham (died 2011) lived to see Hillary become U.S. First Lady, U.S. Senator from New York, the near winner in the 2008 presidential campaign, and U.S. Secretary of State.
BETTY: Hillary's key shaping forces were: 1: From her drill-master father came her iron will, boldness, strength of convictions, determination to stay-the-course-no-matter-what. Her obstinacy later caused trouble as Bill's unofficial co-president.
FRANK: 2: From Hillary's mother came her Methodist faith, the sanctity of marriage, the sacredness of family bonds, no divorce whatever the provocation.
BETTY: 3: From her Methodist youth minister, Donald G. Jones (1922-2009), came the urgency of social justice. When Hillary was age 14 in the 9th grade, Don Jones took Hillary and her Methodist youth group to see Chicago's ghetto poor and mingle with deprived inner city youth. In April 1962 he took them to hear Martin Luther King, Jr., preach and to shake his hand. Hillary sought spiritual counseling and advice from her Methodist mentor Dr. Don Jones (later a Drew University social ethics professor) until his 2009 death.
FRANK: 4: At exclusive Wellesley College for women (1965-69) Hillary became less Republican, more Democratic and a campus leader. She wrote her senior thesis on Chicago's labor union radical Saul Alinsky's (1909-72), insistence that true reform requires community action. Hillary agreed, but added that community reforms had to be done within the system and backed with federal funds.
BETTY: Hillary, as student body president at graduation made national news and Life magazine as Wellesley's first student Co-Commencement speaker, 1969. She challenged the main speaker, distinguished black Republican U.S. Senator from Massachusetts Edward Brooke (1919-), who criticized student activists' use of violence. Hillary, leaving her script, boldly told Senator Brooke: We protesting students are righting the wrongs leaders like you let happen and have done nothing to solve.
FRANK: At Yale University Law School (1971? J.D.) Hillary and Bill first met in the law school library. Sparks flew. Love flowed. A political partnership was in the making.
BETTY: Each stopped dating others, sensing that joining their abilities would strengthen their drive to right American wrongs and ease the world's woes. They married (1975); both taught for a time at the University of Arkansas Law School. Their only child, daughter Chelsea Victoria, was born February 27, 1980.
FRANK: While at Yale Law School Bill was active in Connecticut politics. Both Hillary and Bill campaigned in 1972 for Democratic U.S. Senator George McGovern's (1922-2012) run against incumbent President Richard M. Nixon (1913-94), who was reelected.
BETTY: In 1974 Hillary served in Washington, D.C. on the U.S. Congressional legal team for the Watergate investigation of Republican President Nixon.
FRANK: In 1977 Bill was elected Arkansas Attorney General. Hillary became a member and soon partner of Arkansas's most prestigious Rose Law Firm.
BETTY: In 1978, Bill at age 31 was elected Arkansas Governor. His highway rebuilding project as a first step toward improving the economy was fine but paying for it with higher auto license plate fees hurt most workers and farmers. It was a mistake. Bill was defeated in 1980 for re-election.
FRANK: Stunned, realizing his mistake, Bill campaigned again in 1982 to regain the governorship. He apologized for his mistake, said he would check with voters every step of the way as he raised Arkansas higher and higher. Result: Arkansans re-elected him, 1982 to 1990. Recovering from setbacks Bill Clinton lived up to his reputation as: "The Come-Back Kid."
BETTY: Bill became an outstanding leader among U.S. governors: president of the National Governors Association, 2-chairman of a mainly southern moderate Democratic group called the Democratic Leadership Conference. He was a major speaker at national Democratic Conventions of 1980, '84, and '88. With Hillary as his "Co-Everything" he entered the 1992 race for the U.S. presidency.
FRANK: Bill won the three contestant 1992 Presidential election against Republican incumbent George H.W. Bush [the father] and Independent billionaire Ross Perot. Bill and Hillary were now in the media spotlight, probed by reporters and challenged to explain all past questionable actions, first Whitewater. What was Whitewater?
BETTY: Whitewater was a planned resort in beautiful western Arkansas. Bill and Hillary were invited to invest in the venture by co-signing a bank loan, urged by close friends James McDougal () and wife Susan (). The get-rich scheme failed. McDougal was bailed out with a federal loan. Whitewater was considered a swindle.
FRANK: Reporters unearthed Troopergate, some Arkansas State Troopers whom Governor Clinton arranged to supply him with consenting sex partners. Reporters questioned a secretary Paula Jones who claimed that Bill initiated a long time sexual connection. She brought suit in court for financial redress.
BETTY: Reporters also faulted Hillary, too, for using her state government connection to receive lucrative legal fees at Rose Law Firm.
FRANK: To satisfy public concern Bill asked his U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno () to name a special counsel (lawyer) to investigate the basis of the incriminating charges. Janet Reno first named fair-minded Republican Robert Fiske (), soon replaced by antagonistic Republican Kenneth Starr (), who relentlessly sought to bring impeachable charges against Pres. Clinton.
BETTY: Was there an extremist Republican plot to tarnish and impeach Pres. Clinton? Was the plotters' intent to replace a weaker successor Vice President Al Gore by a Republican president in the 2000 election?
FRANK: Yes, wrote David Brock in his 2002 book, Blinded by the Right; The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative. Brock admitted to being one of several right wing investigative writers paid to print all the dirt possible about the Clintons.
BETTY: Despite critical media and Republican congressional impeachment pressure, Bill Clinton as U.S. President did the country's business exceedingly well. He turned predecessor Pres. George H. W. Bush's large federal budget deficit into a $200 billion budget surplus, oversaw creation of over 20 million new jobs, improved Social Security and Medicare, and achieved a 10% increase in youths entering college. (ftnt: Chafe, 245)
FRANK: After the April 1995 Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing (167 died), Pres. Clinton ministered to the bereaved and a grieving nation. His approval rating rose to 60%. President Clinton reshaped welfare from a "handout" to a "hand up" with time limits on welfare time and incentives to find work. (ftnt: Chafe 259-62)
BETTY: In foreign affairs Pres. Clinton nearly created Middle East Israeli-Palestinian peace. At Camp David he secured mutual concessions from the moderate Israeli prime minister and Arafat, but Arafat backed out, fearing assassination from his own extremists.
FRANK: Hillary Clinton made bad political mistakes in the first two years of the Clinton presidency: 1- She insisted that her offices be in the White House West Wing, the policymaking area, previously always reserved for the President, Vice President, and press. She threw out the press and evoked much resentment. 2-She favored secrecy and failed to cooperate with the press. 3-She micro-managed the Clinton health care package, would not compromise, and thus unwittingly encouraged enemies of universal health insurance, who killed the bill. 4-She fired White House travel managers, replaced them with incompetent political appointees, a mistake critics called "Travelgate." 5-Refusing access to her Rose Law Firm records by reporters from the Washington Post, New York Times, and by counsel Ken Starr only created more suspicion of wrong doing.
BETTY: Hillary Clinton as first lady quickly became unpopular. Bill's advisory staff and hers were antagonistic toward each other. The press and the Washington establishment despised her. Her mistakes strengthened the Republicans who won majorities in both houses in the November 1994 midterm election. A chastened Hillary moved out of the West Wing, stepped out of the role of co-president, turned inward, sought spiritual renewal from understanding friends, her pastor at her Washington, D.C. Methodist Church, and her girlhood mentor Don Jones.
FRANK: From early Yale Law School years Hillary worked to improve the lives of women and children. She resumed that cause in her 1996 book, It Takes a Village, about family values in a just society. She backed, with Bill's help, significant legislation to help children and families. She traveled to foreign countries as a good will ambassador. In summer 1995 her speech at the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women won world-wide praise. Hillary felt restored, reinvigorated, seeing that her influence for good far outweighed narrow minded hate groups who plagued her during her first two years in Washington.
BETTY: In 1999, embarrassed by impeachment publicity, pained over Monica Lewinsky and other bitter disclosures, Hillary nonetheless resolved to stand by Bill and save his presidency. This decision actually freed her to become the person her own mother and others had taught her to be. Now she could step out on her own, run for the U.S. Senate from N.Y. State. As a Senator, instead of earlier arrogance, she listened to what her constituents wanted. No longer judgmental, she reached across the aisle, befriending and cooperating with both Republican and Democratic colleagues. She easily won a second U.S. Senate term in 2006, was popular, successful.
FRANK: Hillary almost defeated Barack Obama as Democratic nominee for President in 2008. She then put their campaign differences behind her, so that when he asked her to become Secretary of State, she said yes, visited and met leaders, created good will in an amazing number of countries.
BETTY: Bill Clinton after leaving office, 2000, wrote his memoir, My Life (2004), and Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World (2007). He had built the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Park, 2004; created the William J. Clinton Foundation to fund humanitarian causes; and took on United Nations and U.S. special assignments to promote peace, disaster relief, and justice.
FRANK: Bill Clinton, a skillful speaker, at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, brilliantly nominated Barack Obama, practically assuring Obama's later presidential win over Mitt Romney.
BETTY: How will future historians judge President Bill Clinton? Was he in a class with Franklin Delano Roosevelt?
FRANK: Sadly, no, although some historians see him as the greatest political talent since Lyndon Baines Johnson. Bill Clinton saw the political troubles Hillary's obstinacy was bringing to them both but would not confront her because he owed her a special debt.
BETTY: What did he owe her and why? Why didn't he confront and correct her?
FRANK: She saved him from becoming a political goner over the 1992 Gennifer Flowers sexual harassment charge which exploded on the media. Bill's standing in the polls fell very low. He was in despair. Then Hillary appeared with him in an hour-long TV Sixty Minutes confessional. She assured millions of viewers that their marriage was rock solid. He owed her, would not confront her, and her obstinacy hurt them both. (Chafe, p. 337)
BETTY: Universal health care was Bill's first goal as president. Its passage would have assured Bill’s place among the greatest U.S. presidents. Instead, because of Hillary’s mishandling universal health care failed. Author Chafe believes that if he had confronted her and taken charge, Bill with his political genius would have gained its passage, perhaps without including all he wanted, but with the beginnings necessary to build a substantial health care system.
FRANK: Betty, what are your final words?
BETTY: My final words: Author William Chafe described how Bill and Hillary at Yale were, from the first, powerfully attracted to each other. Hillary fell in love with Bill because of his brilliance, his sincere wish to improve life in his home state of Arkansas, his already demonstrated political talents. Bill primed his Yale housemates to help him make a good impression on Hillary. Bill, a ladies' man with many girl friends, fell in love with Hillary because she was different: intelligent, self-confident, determined to make a difference in the world. He moved in to live with her and eventually persuaded her to marry him.
Today, in 2013, admiration for Hillary and Bill Clinton far outweighs carping critics. Its wait and see if Hillary in the next presidential election becomes our first woman President. Frank, your final words.
FRANK: My three final words are on admiration, hope, cooperation: 1-Admiration: I admire the Clintons' effort to improve the USA and the world. 2-I Hope that a wiser, more experienced possible President Hillary Clinton can bring contending Americans, contending nations together in cooperation, to uplift all, no exceptions. 3-Cooperation, the key problem solving mechanism for a President Hillary to achieve, reminds me that when we humans came down from the trees, out of the forest, it was cooperation in the hunt for food and welfare that made us masters of Earth.
Thank you for being here, for sharing Hillary and Bill Clinton, and for making our day. Betty and I will say a few words about the books we used. And we will ask folks here to tell about any connections they have had with the Clintons or about the period of the Clintons. Thank you again.
BETTY: William Chafe, author of Bill and Hillary: The Politics of the Possible (2012), has had a distinguished academic career, mainly at Duke University, as a historian and administrator. He grew up in Cambridge, MA, attended Harvard College, and earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University. His early books were carefully researched historical studies about women's rights and the civil rights movement. This Clinton book, however, is based mainly on the writings and research of others. In writing about Bill and Hillary, Chafe interprets their findings. It is highly readable and some have criticized its heavy reliance on the psychology behind the Clintons' choices and behavior.
FRANK: Other major books we used:
(2) Carl Bernstein, A Woman in Charge (2007), mainly about Hillary Clinton (Bernstein, then a Washington Post reporter, first gained fame as co-author with Bob Woodward of All the President's Men, about Watergate).
(3) David Brock, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative (2002).
(4) David Maraniss (Pulitzer prizewinning author), First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton (1995), a richly detailed account of the life of Bill Clinton ends in Little Rock on the day in October 1991 when Bill Clinton announced for the first time his candidacy for presidency of the United States. END. About the authors below:
Franklin Parker and Betty J. Parker,
P.O. Box 406
Pleasant Hill, TN 38578
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Wise Library, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, has these 9 Franklin Parker, 1921-, publications (with Lib. of Congress call numbers):
1. George Peabody, a biography Rev. ed.
HV28 .P4 P29 1995, 1995
2. George Peabody, a biography[electronic resource] Rev. ed.1995
3. Education in the People's Republic of China, Past and Present : An Annotated Bibliography, 1986
4. U.S. higher education : a guide to information sources, 1980
5. British schools and ours, 1979
379.156 P224b, 1975
6. The battle of the books : Kanawha County
Z5811 .P25 v.18,pt.1, 1971
7. American dissertations on foreign education; a bibliography with abstracts (20 volume series)
370.8 In8, no.2, 1960
8. African development and education in Southern Rhodesia
370 P32 no.70 v.2, 1956
9. George Peabody, founder of modern philanthrop
Hutchins Library, Berea College, Ky (the Parkers' undergraduate college, 1949 and 1950), lists over 20 of their publication titles:
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