My Date With Bill Clinton

Well, with me and about 10000 others this past Saturday.

The organizers had originally anticipated a crowd closer to 25000….

Oops.

I was really looking forward to this. I have heard so many things about his skill as an orator.

 But there was a bit of a cock-up with the seating (I guess there was some tricky manoeuvring that had to be done to account for the lower-than-expected turnout) and the sound system sucked. Of course it didn’t help that he had a frog in his throw the size of Manhattan and he was competing against the (many times transplanted) Virgin Music Fest at the Molson Amphitheatre.

I could deal with all of that but throw in a gaggle of giggling girls behind us who’s first comment when Clinton walked on stage was “Do you need an intern?”….

I kid you not.

I was tempted to pull a big dramatic head turn but restrained myself. If I were wearing my “Sunday Best” hat, white kid gloves and had a Mint Julep in hand, I would have done it for sure.

But how was the speech itself?

In all honesty, I was underwhelmed. Given the circumstances I am not surprised.

Will I see him again?

Yes, but not at an outdoor venue.

You could tell that he very much had Ted Kennedy’s death on his mind- having just flown in by private plane from Kennedy’s mass in Boston. Clinton talked a lot about Kennedy’s drive towards universal health care and the factors holding them back.

Most of what Clinton talked about is stuff we all know but the fact that he says it…. People will listen.

Clinton talked about the need to look for alternate sources of energy but more importantly, we need to look at ways we can save energy. Your reaction may be “Duh” but it is a simple idea that will create a lot of jobs but it is not a sexy one so people don’t talk about it. To reverse climate change we have to figure out how to do it without lowering living standards or hurting the economy.

We have to find a way for all of us to win. Our personal interests are tied to the advancement of the community, whether you realize it or not. I had a conversation about this with a left leaning friend of mine and on this we agree. The entire society is responsible for its success or failure. If people slip through the cracks, that is our fault, not just of the people who are displaced- but that is a topic for another (long) conversation.

Clinton also talked about a more sustainable model to finance charitable foundations which ties in with the idea that everyone can make a contribution and should. You can’t rely on the few big six- or seven-figure donations. What if something like a financial crisis wipes them out? No matter how good the economy is (or bad), how good the government is (or not), there will be gaps and we, as individuals have to step in. Five dollars, $10, $20 can make a difference.

He said something else that really stuck with me. Change is hard but for different reasons. In poor countries, the absence of systems inhibit change while in wealthy countries, our systems inhibit change.

This idea got me thinking- and I am still thinking about it.

I’ll have to dig around the net to see if there is a transcript or a video of the talk. It would be worth the refresher.

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~ by angryegg on September 1, 2009.

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