*Note: This was submitted to Huffington Post, however never published.
By Jerry Waxman
Oct. 1 Orlando, Florida on the UCF campus This is my first visit back to the UCF campus since my daughter’s graduation in 1995 when Bill Clinton was in his first term. The reason I’m here is to report on Bill Clinton’s speech. Wow! How things here have changed! This place looks more like a planned community designed by Arvida or the Rouse Corporation than a college campus. As I walked from my parking space to the Arena I thought I was in the downtown area of an upscale small city. There were all kinds of national chains for food plus a gigantic Barnes and Noble, with music playing out loud from the school’s 24 hour jazz station, WUCF, one of a handful in all of this country. On the drive in the very visible Sigma Chi house looks like David O. Selznick’s Plantation logo. This old reprobate still thinks about college in terms of old buildings with millions of decaying bricks in need of repointing due to the ivy which is actually holding the buildings together and a Frisbee match taking place on the quad. UCF has become an enormous economic engine in this part of the state, and shortly will open a medical school that will increase its importance and value to the area. What better venue to talk about change we can believe in?
There were at least three thousand people crammed into the small outdoor area and it was hot enough that several people were overcome by the heat. Two young women at different times succumbed no more than five feet from where I was standing. There was a cordoned-off area where about a dozen McCain/Palin supporters were allowed to try and heckle. After the speech I interviewed a couple of them, the results of which I’ll share with you at the end of this post. I’ve not felt kindly to Bill Clinton of late, and my inclination was to report on his speech as critically as I could. His recent behavior had me longing for the Bill Clinton of 1995.
Today Bill Clinton regained his stride. Seeing him on the stump is something we all should be privileged to witness in person. He talked for about 25 minutes and from where I stood it looked to be extemporaneously. He was forceful, direct and passionate. He never once stumbled and I didn’t detect an …um….or an ….er….at any time. His performance was seamless and mesmerizing. I won’t go into the whole speech, however, he had nothing but praise for Barack Obama and Joe Biden and he passionately pleaded with the crowd to recruit others in support of the ticket. I may have lost the 1995 UCF campus, but I found the 1995 Bill Clinton. It was an honest performance.
After the speech I interviewed two of the McCain people as to why they preferred McCain. The incoherent young woman would not give me her name. The young man is named Dante:
Jerry. Dante, can you tell me what it is that you like about John McCain and why you prefer him?
Dante. Sure. He’s a hero, and he’s suffered for it. He’s also a maverick and I like that. He’s a real man of action. I voted for Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004, but this guy Obama is nothing. All he can do is make speeches, and I’m from Chicago and I know what I’m talking about. Also his running mate, this Palin girl is the only one of the four that has real executive experience.
Jerry. Really? So did George Bush supposedly. So you’re telling me you’d rather vote for the myth rather than find the true man?
Dante. What’s that?
Jerry. There’s a lot out there about John McCain not being the man he claims to be, and Sarah Palin not being the greatest executive in the world and it’s backed up by hard facts and data. Have you ever thought about checking them out?
Dante. Aw I don’t have time for that crap. He’s a hero and that’s what’s important to me.
Jerry. Would you mind telling me what it is that you like about John McCain
Incoherent young woman. He’sforfreedomandtherighttochooseyourownhealthcareinstedoofsocialismwhichwilltaxusallintothepoorhouseandbythewaywe…….
On the way out of the area I ran into Alan Grayson who is running for congress against the incumbent Republican, Ric Keller. Alan was gracious enough to grant me a 30 second interview where he praised Bill Clinton for making the Democrats a united party. Frankly, I don’t think we’re that far yet, but we’re a lot closer, especially if Bill Clinton continues to stump the way he did today.
* * *