Monday, June 05, 2006

Am I a Friend of Bill?

Little Rock, AR (June 3, 2006) – I went to the Bill Clinton Presidential Library. I had no expectations. In fact, I had no plan to see it. However, I found myself in Little Rock with five hours free, and what else would you do? There it sits, on the banks of the Arkansas River, looking from a distance like a double-wide with a sun room.
Somewhere in the folds of my memory, I knew there was a full-scale replica of the Oval office in there, and I wanted to see it. Like any good American tourist, I’ve been inside the actual White House a few times, but only on the public tours. Certainly the Oval is off-limits on those trips. I saved that piece of the library for last, and unquestionably it is worth seeing. The whole experience was positive, to my surprise.
The project has become more of a museum than a library. The interactive exhibits and the memorabilia are impressive and informative. Walking through, watching movies and reading about Clinton’s eight years in office, I found myself kind of missing the guy. It was upon reflection that I realized his presidency roughly coincided with my thirties, a time when I was thinner, had more hair, and my children were babies. Life is better for my family now, but that was a more exciting period of our lives. We’ve settled now into a routine of contentment, and that is not to be underappreciated. Things will get lively in a couple of years when the first kid finishes high school, which will roughly coincide with the start of a Presidential election season. For now, we’ll play out the string along with Dubya.
Having observed Clinton with some amusement and a good dose of fascination, I was not prepared for the doe-eyed devotion I saw in some of my fellow visitors to his massive Natural State shrine. Apparently, there are people who hold Clinton and his wife in great esteem. I don’t have any sense that he touched my life in any day-to-day way, but some people seem to think he made living life better. I’ll take their word for it.
I will say that the museum er, library, shows a side of the Clintons that I hadn’t noticed. There’s a video presentation of the Clintons’ humor. I sat and watched the whole thing, and I have to admit I laughed aloud several times. Pre-September 11th Presidential humor seemed to have a more playful feel to it.
I was impressed that the designers did not shy away from the Monica Lewinski scandal or the impeachment proceedings; although the display about the impeachment does engage in a dizzying amount of political spin. There’s no blue dress with a stain, but Mrs. Clinton’s gown from an inaugural ball is there.
I was thinking it would cost about twenty dollars to get in, but admission was just seven bucks. The trip and the time spent were well worth the money. Despite your politics, the Clintons are compelling figures in American history. To have so much of their public lives displayed for public consumption is worthy.
I just wonder, if Hillary is elected president, will they just expand this facility to triple-wide status? Maybe they’ll add a deck and a hot tub. It might be worth voting for her just to find out.

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