I attended the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton on January 20, 1993. My friend Tom Todd, and, I both attended the event. He came down to Washington, D.C. from Boston, Ma. I took the train from Chicago, Il.
It was a momentous event! Both Tom and I were in our service dress blue Navy uniform. We stood on the lawn of the west entrance to the Capitol with thousands of others and watched President Clinton take the Presidential Oath of office and then give a speech. We heard Maya Angelou give a moving reading of her poem “On the Pulse of Morning”.
After the inauguration, Tom and I had lunch at a restaurant a short distance away from the White House. We saw John McLaughlin (of the then PBS McLaughlin Report) and Martha Stewart sitting at an adjacent table. They even came over to our table and talked to us.
This was quite an exciting time for two Navy Chaplains.
Then 25 years later, I was sitting in the Tobin Center, San Antonio, TX on June 11, 2018, and found myself hearing President Bill Clinton be interviewed by Texas A & M President Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson. The occasion of this appearance was in conjunction with the publication of the new novel “The President Is Missing,“which Clinton has co-authored with James Patterson.
President Clinton spoke before an audience of over 900 people as he discussed the process of the writing the novel with Patterson. He stated that both of them wrote chapters out by hand and had them typed for further editing. Clinton discussed his concerns regarding the current state of vulnerability regarding cyber-security in our country.
This subject loom large in the new novel. The protagonist, Jonathan Lincoln Duncan, is the President. He is a Veteran of the Gulf War, was captured by the enemy, tortured and escaped. His wife has recently died of cancer and he has a daughter. The book opens with a controversy of impeachment, and it ends with a stirring speech that the President gives to the congress about the nation experiencing a terrible ordeal. President Clinton admitted that he wrote the speech that appears in the book. One wonders how much of President Clinton is in the character of Jonathan Lincoln Duncan.
President Clinton reported that the 2018 Defense budget is an estimated $650 billion, with cyber defense at $15 billion. This is accounting for only 5% of the defense budget. Clinton argued that we have to do more to protect the digital grid and enhance security.
Besides cyber threats, No. 42 also discussed the need for further educational reform and greater civility in political discourse and bipartisan action on legislation. He highlighted the achievements of education in Finland, and with school systems in Northern Illinois and California. Clinton reiterated that reading difficulties for students have a direct correlation to drop out rates in STEM education.
He also talked about his recent collaboration with President George W. Bush
(No. 43) regarding their Leadership Academy. He emphasized being able to work with people with whom you disagree and still see them as human. Clinton asked: “How can I help today? What can I do today?” He reminded his audience that this is a far better course of action than waking up thinking about how you can destroy the other. “Never underestimate your adversary, always attempt to understand them. “
President Clinton again reminded his audience about the importance of thinking big and acting inclusively. This is a message that is greatly needed now for both political parties to digest and incorporate.
I got to be closer to President Clinton this time. He looked healthy and happy. His policy analysis and practical application was greatly appreciated by those who attended.
Think big and act inclusively!
May it be so.