In advance of Wednesday's packed convention activities — perhaps the most content-heavy convention night I can remember across my four decades watching conventions — the Arkansans delegation spent a little time with Bill Clinton
at a reception called "Where It All Began."
The name of the party — held at the WHYY-FM public radio building, a snazzy space near Independence Hall — was a double entendre for Philadelphia's role as the birthplace of American democracy and Arkansas's role in fostering Hillary Clinton's public service work. Clinton was joined by former Arkansas Senators Mark Pryor
and Blanche Lincoln
and by current senators Al Franken of Minnesota and Tom Udall of New Mexico. Clinton was introduced by Mack McLarty
— his friend since kindergarten and his first White House chief of staff — and spent the first half of his talk recounting their friendship over the decades as a parable for the importance of long-lasting personal relationships as a component of a life well lived.
Clinton told of an interview with Lyndon Johnson just before his death in which LBJ talked of why he returned to the Hill Country after his presidency. Johnson said he wanted to be in a place where "the people know when you're sick and care when you die." Clinton noted the personal bonds among many in the room in reiterating the communitarian theme that's been front and center all week. He then moved into a synopsis of his arguments about his wife's dedication to service that was at the core of his Tuesday night convention speech on her behalf.
The Arkansas party highlighted the number of folks with Arkansas ties who are in Philadelphia for the convention. As the week has gone along, their numbers have grown. The many Arkansans who are important players in the current Clinton campaign have been joined by Arkansans who had been part of Bill Clinton's administration, long-time Arkansas friends of the family, and the many Arkansans who are involved in Democratic party and progressive politics more generally. (As an aging professor, I'm struck by how many of my students are here because of their continued work in politics). Tonight, one of those Arkansans by birth — Chad Griffin
, the head of the Human Rights Campaign — will take the stage on behalf of Clinton.