Son1 and I headed into town for the dedication of the Clinton Library.
We parked at Alltel Arena and caught a shuttle bus across the river. The bus dropped us off right next to the entrance to the Clinton Center. Unfortunately, we had to enter about 5 blocks away on the other side. It was just a bit moist so we took rain jackets (I had a pair of rain pants in the pocket of mine) and headed over to Clinton Avenue (It'll always be Markham Street to me...). The line was already back nearly to Commerce Street (about 4 or 5 blocks from the gate) and we got in the back of it. Busses were steadily emptying people out across the compound and they were showing up in droves. It wasn't long until the line was circling back up Clinton Avenue about 3 blocks. Being able to step forward a foot or two felt like an accomplishment. The festivities don't start until 10:00, right?
By the time we reached the Terminal Building (about 2 blocks from the gate) it was 9:45. The line was quite orderly and moving pretty steadily by this time. When we got to the gate just under the freeway it turned mostly into a mob. Imagine trying to get through the metal detectors and searches at the airport with no roped off corridors.
It had started to rain steadily by then and I put on my rain pants. We finally get through the gate and are directed to seats on the "floor" just behind the congressional delegation section (Clinton thanked President Bush for sending 4 jets down with them.)
We found two seats and sat down. I overheard the two women to my left talking about standing up for Clinton and one of them said, "but I'm not going to stand up when Bush speaks." I turned to her and said, "Yes, we certainly wouldn't want to stand up for the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, would we?" She said, "not this one!" To which I replied, "at least he stands for something." She didn't speak to me the rest of the time, though she was quite rude to the woman sitting in front of me ssshhhhing her when she dared speak to her daughter next to her.
The rain is falling quite heavily at this point. We watched the Lyon College bagpipe band, the Art Porter Singers, Hot Springs H.S. Marching Band, River City Men's Chorus, African Drum Ballet, Phil Driscoll, Rita Dove and the Philander Smith Collegiate Choir.
Afterwards we saw the announcement of Al and Tipper Gore, all of the presidential families, state government bigwigs, and the diplomatic corps - seems like Bill has lots of friends from Columbia...(sniff)
Then we saw Chelsea Clinton (I remember thinking on election night '92, "Amy carter is watching this at home and going, YESSSSS! Finally a girl uglier than me in the White House!") And out came Laura Bush, Billary Clinton, Barbara Bush and Rosalynn Carter.
Hail to the Chief plays and out comes Dubya Bush, Billy C., GHW, and Jimmah. Skip Rutherford made welcoming comments and the color guard advanced the flags and we pledged allegiance and sang the national anthem.
After what seemed an endless parade of folks I never heard of (do you know Deborah Bredbenner?) all of whom son1 pointed out "talked real slow," we finally got to see a real live president, Jimmy Carter, speak. It was a very nice speach from an otherwise lackluster president.
George H. W. Bush spoke next and gave glowing praise to Mr. Clinton followed by his son,the President of the United States. Clinton seemed almost angry during all of Dubya's speach. I couldn't tell if he was tired, if the constant pouring rain was getting to him or if he was genuinely pissed-off. Hillary kept trying to get him to laugh or respond to certain lines, but he just didn't.
Bono was his usual self-absorbed self and the three songs he did with The Edge seemed to go on forever. I'm getting really cold and the rain is starting to soak through my rain pants in places where I'm sitting on them. Son1 is soaked through and shivering.
Almost to the end of Bill's "Bridge to the Future" speach, the boy and I slipped out. He was having trouble keeping up with me because he said his blue jeans weighed about 30 pounds. We grabbed a trolley across the river and bee-lined to the car.
Cranked the heater up and rushed home to warm, dry clothes and shoes. Damn, I sure hated to miss seeing Chelsea give the keys to the