Clinton as press critic
Historian Taylor Branch's new book, “The Clinton Tapes,” is a fascinating account of private conversations President Bill Clinton had with Branch during his presidency.
One extensive passage recounts Clinton's decision not to appoint federal Judge Richard Arnold of Little Rock to the U.S. Supreme Court, ostensibly because of the cancer that eventually claimed his life. The passage notes that Arnold was not personally or politically close to Clinton, however. And it notes, at some length, Arnold's support by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a strident critic of the president whose publisher is Arnold's former brother-in-law Walter Hussman. The passage recounts an angry late-night call by Clinton to Hussman over the newspaper's Clinton scandal coverage. In Clinton's opinion, the coverage created problems for an Arnold nomination because of the judge's relationship to a figure in a story being told by state troopers on the governor's security detail.
Clinton also railed to Branch about the Democrat-Gazette's coverage of Nolan Richardson, the University of Arkansas basketball coach. Clinton told Branch that the paper ridiculed Richardson's dress, diction and style of basketball. From the book:
“They did everything but call him a ‘nigger,' ” said Clinton, adding that for him — and for Hillary, too — a crowning satisfaction of Arkansas's first national basketball championship last month was getting to watch the Democrat-Gazette eat all the hateful things it had written about the victorious coach.
The drama of Little Rock lives on. The Union Square Theatre in New York was the setting recently for staged readings of “Little Rock,” a play about the 1957 school crisis developed two years ago at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj. It's been reworked since the Little Rock staging. Singer/actress Leslie Uggams read one of the key roles in the recent New York show. There's no word yet if it might be produced for the commercial stage. The Rep owns a piece of the show.
Pity the speaker
House Speaker Robbie Wills wrote on his blog last week that he wouldn't be able to attend the Arkansas-Texas A&M game in Dallas because he'd be out of town. “Besides, with the high ticket price and the cost of parking, food and lodging, it would have come down to a decision between the game and sending my kids to college someday.”
Wills's trip? A freebie to China arranged by the Southern Legislative Conference. Wills earlier had visited Taiwan on a government-sponsored junket.