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Jamie Stiehm
Past and Present
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My Inaugurals, Past and Present


Walking homeward in a radiant rose sunset on Inauguration Day, my mind raced through pages of our political chapters.

Barack Obama won the day and renewed his vows with vigor. Some say he's not the best negotiator. OK, but in his second inaugural address, he swung for the fences and hit the Washington Monument. He placed himself as progressive — and proud of it. In the bracing air, he put forth a full-throated vision as a starting point before us — we the people, Obama's democratic chorus. His words were salve to the spirit, a clear call for friend and foe to hear a matured, battle-hardened president, more realistic and ripened in politics and partisanship.

Suddenly, a silvery-haired apparition appeared on Massachusetts Avenue. But no, could it really be? William Jefferson Clinton walking my way. I crossed the street to see him saunter down the sidewalk, talking to his Secret Service agent about the avenue's embassies. The British is the most beautiful, I heard him say in the last golden light of day: "It looks like Buckingham Palace."

Looking lanky in jeans, all was well in his world. A jogger shook his hand; a lovely woman in a BMW rolled down her window to say, "Bill Clinton, I am your biggest fan." He smiled at passersby taking pictures with smartphones. It was Inauguration Day, and the 66-year-old looked hale, still campaigning. His wife, Hillary, the SecState, was with him at the noonday Capitol ceremony, and it sure was good to see the Clintons together again.

Then there was only me, Bill and the Secret Service agent. Mr. President, grand to see you earlier today, I said. Enjoyed it, he said with bonhomie, shaking my hand warmly in the cold.

I resisted the urge to say, "You're my president, and I wish you still were" — not sporting on a splendid day for Obama.

But I do miss the '90s, don't you? Peace, prosperity, never a dull moment. Just as much, I believe Clinton would be another Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but for the 22nd Amendment passed by rascally Republicans to prevent another FDR winning four elections in a row. Posterity is so grateful.

Let's see ... If Clinton had run and won two more times, serving through 2008, it might have saved a lot of trouble started by the Texan president who didn't show to see Obama take the oath. The early 21st century would be a happier place, not a tale of two misspent wars. The man knows how to govern.

Everyone has their president. JFK was it for the generation who saw Camelot's candles blow out. Blessed was my parents' generation to grow up with cheery father figure Franklin Roosevelt, whose picture adorned American kitchens. Ronald Reagan reigns highest in the recent Republican pantheon. Abraham Lincoln is Bill Clinton's favorite. Obama, my generation's "first," will likely be it for millions of Millennials. But Bill is mine.

My first rodeo was Clinton's inaugural 20 years ago. On a bright morning, my mother and I walked to some nice seats under a tree. With hundreds of thousands of fellow Americans, we listened to poet Maya Angelou speak verses made for this magnificent day, that went: "Lift up your eyes/Upon this day breaking for you/Give birth again/To the dream."

That night, dressed in a green gown, I went to the MTV Inaugural Ball with my dashing beau and danced to the song "These Are Days," sung by the band 10,000 Maniacs. Live.

I knew it then. I know it better now. Those were brilliant days we'll remember at the end of the day.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm, and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit



5 Comments | Post Comment
Beautifully written Jamie! One day I imagine passing Hillary saying "HIL I'M YOUR BIGGEST FAN!"
Comment: #1
Posted by: Colby
Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:29 AM
I miss Bill.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Paul M. Petkovsek
Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:54 PM
Re: Paul M. Petkovsek;... Really guys??? Those two clowns rolled out the red carpet for Mr. Bush the lesser, and set the stage for all the nonsense of war to follow...
I think If Mr, Bill had managed to keep it in his britches so he would not have had to lie about it after, it would have gained enough votes to have put Al Gore on the dart board of history...I did not vote for a president that year, and generally went green with my vote... It was a mistake to believe as I did that there was some meat behind the eight years of republican howl over the Clintons... They were not near the problem that those were who took up the hew and cry after him...
Sure he/they were slimey... But the republicans think they own the presidency when they no where deserve to be the mayor... They abuse every democrat in the office, and after a while make themselves look completely stupid... Still; that is every bit of reason for every democrat in the office to be on his best behavior, on his honor, and working hard for America...And If any president has time for nonsense, he is not working hard enough...
The Clintons are every thing wrong with politcs... When have they ever showed up in court on behalf of some down and outer??? Have these people ever held a private sector job??? How did they get to be millionaires many times over having nothing more than a government check??? The Greeks used to choose their leaders by lots, and try them after the fact for their performance... We elect faces and personalities, and let them skate after the fact... I don't believe anyone could prove the Greeks did not have more sense in their government...
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:13 PM
Great piece Jamie! You capture the moment beautifully. Oh, to have the Clinton prosperity years back would be nice....lest we forget how easy things were at that time for each of us financially and the country.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Tanya Domi
Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:47 PM
Great piece Jamie! You capture the moment beautifully. Oh, to have the Clinton prosperity years back would be nice....lest we forget how easy things were at that time for each of us financially and the country.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Tanya Domi
Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:47 PM
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