Bill Clinton Speaks For Me (And So Does Maya Angelou)

H/T Sugar N Spice. I didn’t watch The View today. I don’t watch much TV (Project Runway notwithstanding), and I hate commercial television for the most part. But Bill was apparently on today.

In 1992 I was a 20 year old waitress in a coffee shop, tasked with first dishes, then cooking, and eventually in conceiving our political theme for the election that year. I was very involved. It was my first presidential campaign. I supported Clinton very early on. I made posters that took full advantage of the facts of that year. I remember one had pictures of Clinton, Bush, & Perot with the caption The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. When we won I marveled. I was surrounded by armchair politicos in the coffee shop, where discourse thrived, even if it was pretentious and overwrought.

I will never forget the shining January day he was inaugurated, and the poem Maya Angelou read, On the Pulse of Morning. I bought a tape of it and still listen to it from time to time. It’s still so good all these years later. I remember how the next day my boyfriend and I crouched together over a table with the local paper spread out, where the entire poem had been re-printed. We read it and literally wept, realizing the power of the work, and the power of the fact that a long poem had been published in full in newspapers across the land that day. The news was poetry! Poetry was the news! A new age was indeed ushering in. We did not then know what a mockery the haters would make of it all.

I do recall that late on the November night Clinton/Gore won, after I had consumed a significant amount of beer in celebration, I leaned into my drinking buddy and cynically said, “Doesn’t matter. They’ll elect a Republican Congress in 2 years, and it’ll be gridlock all the way.”

Anyway, regarding his appearance on the view, this clip is amazing. He talks about respecting voters choices and not demonizing the other guy. He’s always been that way. Which may be why I’ve always loved him, even during his darkest days. Check it out, because he says it way better than I ever could:

In keeping with our nostalgic theme today, here is Maya Angelou’s poem, read at the first inauguration of William Jefferson Clinton:

Text of On the Pulse of Morning


10 comments on “Bill Clinton Speaks For Me (And So Does Maya Angelou)

  1. Steven Mather says:

    Tears fall.

  2. Anna Belle says:

    You and me, both, Steven. I just watched it again and let myself have a good cry. It’s fantastic poem spoken to a listening country on a national day of recognition. I’ll never forget it.

  3. indie in CA says:

    Your post made me remember how I cut Maya’s poem out of the newspaper and taped it to my office door. I was a teaching fellow in grad school at the time. Feels like a very long time ago.

  4. bellecat says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.
    I always enjoy them.
    It also makes me believe that there still are sensible and civil human beings with love and inspiration in their hearts; in this crazy world plagued with greed and dispair.

    P.S. How can I place my avatar?

  5. madamab says:

    Anna Belle – Thanks for this beautiful post. The View ladies looked as though they could barely contain themselves in the presence of President Clinton – not that I could blame them!

    But wasn’t it nice to hear him speak? Oh, I miss him so, his unapologetic wonkiness and sheer intelligence…and we could have had it again, ONLY BETTER this year!

    I will never forgive those misogynistic, corporatist morons at the DNC for depriving us of Hillary. Never!

  6. salmonrising says:

    Anna Belle-

    Thanks for including a video of Maya at Clinton’s
    inauguration…it was so special. I saw The View clips on another site and had much the same reaction….damn, he’s good. I was also struck by Whoopi’s obvious affection for the man (reciprocated, also obviously)….she probably voted for Obama, but I doubt she ever bought the racist slurs against Big Dawg…she knows the Clintons too well.

    Probably unrelated, but I have found myself wondering more than once what Molly Ivins would have been saying during this year’s presidential primary. In one of her last columns she basically went off on Hillary, saying she would never vote for her triangulating ways. Nevertheless, I don’t think she would have drunk the Obama Kool Aid without some serious premedication with her favorite beverage of choice. Whadda’ you folks think?

  7. chay says:

    I watched Bill Clinton on the View, all the while my grandchildren were begging me to do something else. At one point, I remember saying that this was an important man and I wanted to hear what he had to say. Now isn’t that something, to really want to hear a politician speak. Makes me very appreciative of his ability to connect.

  8. Anna Belle says:

    bellecat, I’m not sure. I think you have to access your profile? I think you can do it from the homepage? I hope anyway. There are lots of sensible, civil people in the world. At least I hope.

    I agree, madam. Don’t forgive. Forgiveness in the absence of contrition is unthinkable.

    I found that fascinating too, SR, the Whoopi reaction. She was almost like a school girl at times. How long has she been wearing those plastic heels? Or did she don them ‘specially for Bill?

    I hadn’t been thinking what Molly Ivins would have to say, but I am now. Gawd, what a loss, that one. I hope she wouldn’t have drunk the kool-aide, but I guess it’s that possible if she miscalculated Hillary that badly.

    That is something, Chay! I saw him live twice, once campaigning for Gore and once campaigning for Hillary. He absolutely makes you feel as if he sometimes talking directly to you, even though you know that’s impossible. He makes amazing sense, and I loved watching him perfectly articulate, with all his southern charm, exactly what Obama and the O-Bots are doing wrong without being the slightest bit bitchy about it. He’s earned my eternal devotion.

  9. dbs008 says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. God, I love to hear a poet read. It makes me proud to be human. Maya’s “Rise, Hillary, Rise” touched me in the same way. Thank you for the memories of beauty.

  10. Ciardha says:

    I was 26 at the time, and finishing up in college. I tell you all the campus progressive groups, we were smiling. We felt like we had finally won a war. Most (like you and me) were poor or at best lower middle class commuter students going to college on Pell Grants and working part time jobs- either work study like me, or at UPS, etc…

    The thing was, at that time all the progressive groups were united, everyone understood the ugliness of sexism as well as racism, homophobia and classism.

    To this day I also contrast Jesse Jackson Sr, to Obama- how different a campaign they ran in the primaries. Jesse Sr. united all the disadvantaged groups, that’s how, despite the mainstream media demonizing of him, he won 13 states. Honestly, Jesse Sr. showed he actually despises Obama in that now imortalized comment. I’m glad that was leaked out, even though it meant a Jesse Sr had to be momentarly humilated. It made me feel better that below the surface words he still was for the people.

    Have you read Hillary’s words on the financial meltdown? Makes me angry all over again that Obama and the DNC stole the nomination from her. She cares and wants to fight for us.

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