Bill Clinton Comes to Hartford: Embracing Our Common Humanity

From jacromer, Flickr Creative Commons

It’s clear that the CT Forum is desperate for my membership. Why else would they book all my favorite silver foxes as panelists?

Last year, I  got to see John Irving — interviewed by fellow silver fox, Colin McEnroe — and thanks to my very favorite Asian, I got to see President Bill Clinton…the silver fox to end all silver foxes. You are one wily non-profit organization, CT Forum.

Yes, somehow the Asian Persuasion and I were let into the same building as Bill Clinton, who spoke about “Embracing our Common Humanity” in his trademark style…which is engaging, enigmatic, so intelligent it hurts, and incredibly funny.

Now, I’ll admit to being a complete sycophant when it comes to Bill Clinton, so I’m more than a little biased…but honestly, what kind of person isn’t completely in awe of him? A few years back I watched some regular old campaign trail speech he made for Claire McCaskill (a senator from Missouri) and I remember just sitting there, completely rapt by something on C-SPAN, which pretty much never happens. Long story short: he’s amazing.

Bill started out the evening by talking about the last time he was at the Bushnell (and yes, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t mind me calling him Bill) when he was debating Bob Dole. He joked that they committed heresy by talking nicely about each other and says they’re still friends today. Dole even sent him an email that said, “How could you say something nice about Newt Gingrich?” That got a good laugh out of the crowd. Apparently Dole said something about Gingrich making it impossible for Dole to beat Clinton, and so Clinton wrote back, “That’s why I said nice things about him.”

Clinton spoke about a lot of things, like the challenges facing China and India…and how Brazil seems poised to come out on top because of its truly collaborative spirit and ability to include every point of view in the search for the “right” solution. “The right solution,” as he put it, “won’t be the perfect solution.”

Bill is nothing if not a realist… and a vegan.

One of the running themes of the evening was also this new tendency for us, as people, to become more tolerant of everything except for people who don’t agree with us. I found this especially interesting — for a lot of boring reasons I won’t go into here — but largely because I like to argue with people, but there is nothing worse than debating with someone who is uninformed and unreasonable. It’s not a debate. It’s a waste of time. And these days, I feel like any conversation I have with “the opposition” is a waste of time. Surely, somewhere, there is a Republican out there to talk with who doesn’t still think W. was a good president, and doesn’t (mis-)use the Bible for every one of his views, and doesn’t blindly hate all things Obama. But I can’t find them and neither can reputable journalists. Case in point:

For Becca Robinson of Oneonta, Ala., one candidate will get her vote: Santorum. And there’s one reason why: “He wants to bring God into everything, and to me and my Christianity, that’s what I needed to hear. You know, that’s what we need,” she said. …

Romney is a Mormon, an unfamiliar faith here. But his religion didn’t come up among the dozen attendees I spoke with. Instead, for people like Judy Sellers, it was Obama’s faith that was an issue.

“I really don’t think that a nation that falls on Muslim leadership, potentially, is going to be a nation that’s going to survive,” she said. …

And it’s not the only topic that made a return appearance last night. John Gentile of Crossville, Tenn., still doesn’t believe Obama is allowed to be president because his father was born in Kenya.

“I just don’t like the directions that he’s headed in, and personally I don’t think he qualifies to be president under the ‘natural born citizen.’ In the Constitution it states that you have to have two parents that were born in the United States, so that there’s no alternative allegiance by any member of the family,” Gentile said.

I mean, c’mon! How could someone possibly believe that we have a president who isn’t eligible to be president according to the Constitution? Do you honestly not think we don’t bother to check that sort of thing before giving a man access to “the button”? It’s like some people don’t even hear themselves.

Maybe I should go to New Hampshire, where they just want to “live free or die” and shoot some stuff, but aren’t as ill-informed. Or maybe I should email Bob Dole. He seems to be reasonable and well-informed.

These days if I want to have a coherent debate with someone, my best bet is to find someone who is even more liberal than I am. I, like Bill, am a realist. I’m with George Clooney on the Obama thing:

But there are people out there who are so idealistic — and who don’t seem to grasp how government works — that they are “disappointed” and so until I find a reasonable, well-informed Republican, I’ll just argue with the bleeding hearts.

No matter what your political leanings are, I highly recommend going to see the former President speak if you ever get the chance. Unless you recently received a Genius Grant you can be pretty damn sure he’s smarter than you, and you’ll come away better for having seen it.

Now, if only I knew which hotel he is staying at…



  1. I thought this article would be about Bill Clinton. I wanna know more about what he said. Why did he come to CT? Did he have anything to say about CT? Was Uncle Dannel there?


  2. Dear Clamp,

    He came her for the CT Forum. He spoke about “embracing our common humanity” — some of the details of which are written about here. I did not record the event and don’t have a good enough memory to tell you any more than what I’ve already talked about here. He did not have much to say about CT except that he’d been here with Bob Dole… and yes, Crazy Dannel was there…somewhere.


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