Sunday, August 20, 2006
Happy 60th Birthday 'Brother Bill'
Today is the 60th birthday of a man who will probably be recognized by future historians as one of the great US presidents. I ain't waiting that long. As far as I'm concered he already is.
Happy birthday, Wlliam Jefferson Clinton!
We African-Americans call him 'Brother Bill' because he was one of the first presidents in a long time who we felt truly understood us, our culture and paid more than lip service to the notion that we are American citizens too.
When he was campaigning in our communities during the runup to the 1992 elections he made a campaign promise to us that his cabinet would 'look like America.' The man from Hope, AK repeatedly let us know that if we trusted him with our votes he wouldn't forget us. He even went on our TV shows like Arsenio, did interviews with our iconic magazines and talked to Black radio outlets to tell us that.
The best part was that when he won in 1992, he won, he kept that promise.
He appointed more African-Americans to his cabinet than Reagan, Daddy Bush and GW Bush combined. He turned a deficit into a surplus. He presided over the longest peacetime economic expansion in our country's history and under Clinton we had the lowest African-American unemployment rate ever in our country's history.
He also wasn't afraid to try to accomplish bold new initiatives. The Human Genome Project was started and completed during his presidency. The Internet became a fixture in American homes. He even tried to pass universal healthcare. He got the Palestinians and Israelis to the table to talk peace. He became the second American president to visit the African continent.
He earned the undying hatred of conservatives. They spent millions on every dirty trick, investigation, and smear campaign they could to undermine his presidency. The Hateraid from conservatives and the GOP attack machine was being consumed in 55 gallon drums. They attacked everyone that was close to him, including the First Lady and his daughter Chelsea.
Through it all, losing the Congress to a GOP landslide in 1994 and the impeachment trial over the Monica Lewinsky affair, he stayed focused on being the president for all of us. For the first time since the Carter administration, I felt included in 'we the people'. He was my generation's John F. Kennedy.
Happy birthday, Brother Bill. May you have many more.