Does Clinton deserve racial award?

By Doug Powers

On Oct. 19, former president Bill Clinton was honored, perhaps in part because his middle name is “Jefferson,” to become the first white guy inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. The move puts serious pressure on the Polka Dancers Hall of Fame to return the racial favor, and also brings to mind the question, “just what has Clinton done for African-Americans?”

For most of the ’80s, as Arkansas governor, Clinton did his best to see to it that blacks didn’t fall for all that “decade of greed” talk, with 1990 census statistics showing white families with a median income of $22,550, and black families at $12,128. Good thing Clinton was there to fight for them, or else black families in Arkansas would have finished the ’80s owing money.

Later on, as president, Clinton also offered sage advice to a black business executive. At a town hall meeting, Herman Cain, the CEO of the Godfathers Pizza chain, raised concerns to Clinton about the cost of employer mandates. Clinton’s answer – as the most powerful man in the world displayed an economic intellectual energy so low it couldn’t even power a potato clock – was stunning: He offered Cain an idea to fight high taxes that the CEO probably hadn’t thought of – hadn’t thought of because of its inane stupidity. The answer was, essentially, “Just raise your price.” This solidified my desire to leave the garage door down when I started my car the next morning.

What would have happened if Cain had, in a fit of neuron-fizzle, followed Clinton’s advice? More than likely, his customers would have fulfilled their pepperoni and mozzarella needs at a place where a pizza didn’t cost as much as a Cadillac El Dorado. Then Cain, and all his employees, would have been out of work – victims of the man who loves them so much.

Clinton has also displayed a tremendous respect for black heritage. In 2001, the historic landmark, the Choctaw Terminal, built in part by craftsmen who were former slaves, a building which was truly a piece of black history, was leveled to make room for the Clinton Presidential Library. Arkansas finally gets a library and it’s got to be smack on top of a piece of black history? That’s OK, I suppose, since Clinton’s blacker than they were, right?

The Hall of Fame Induction Committee cited Clinton’s fight against AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean as a major factor in their choice, completely overlooking the other Arkansas natives who champion the cause of finding a cure for AIDS, such as … such as … – OK, I’ll give them that one.

Additionally, Clinton assists the residents of Africa and the Caribbean in the fight against the spread of crime and sexually transmitted diseases in those places, mostly by virtue of not visiting there very often. Chalk up two good reasons he should be in the Black Hall of Fame. One more contribution, and he’ll nail the title role in “Shaft II.”

Nothing about Clinton’s induction into the Black Hall comes as much of a surprise, however. Almost five years ago, author Toni Morrison called Clinton our “first black president.” I personally thought that Taft was, but I may have gotten hold of a doctored photo. After leaving the presidency, Clinton took that title and ran with it. He then opened an office in Harlem, which was soon filled with presidential memorabilia, White House silverware, and towels that say “Holiday Inn” on them.

There is no African blood, as far as I know, in Bill Clinton. The blackest thing in the Clinton family is the hitch on Roger’s house. The person who should be inducted into the Black Hall of Fame over Clinton is the poor kid, quite possibly black and unable to afford college, who took Clinton’s place in the draft as Bill was busy overseas making rolling papers out of the sports page of the Oxford Bugle.

There must be many other good choices for the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. If I were black, I’d be a little angered that the first white guy to receive honorary membership in my race was a lying, cheating, morally bankrupt, intellectually dishonest pants-dropper who spent the better part of eight years making the Oval Office look like the director’s cut of “Eyes Wide Shut.” That’s an insult to the black community, not a reflection of them.