Clinton Comes to Kirtland

John Hamercommunity of christ, history, Mormon, Mormons, politics, RLDS, temple 21 Comments

Bill Clinton.jpg I was in the offices of the new Kirtland Temple Visitor Center last Thursday when the call came through. According to the mayor’s office, Bill Clinton was coming to Kirtland on Saturday — to hold a rally and to tour the Temple. This would make Clinton the first US President to tour the Temple since James Garfield.

The Temple staffmembers were excited, but skeptical. If Clinton were coming, wouldn’t they have heard from the secret service directly?

It turns out that there were quite a few Hillary supporters on the Temple staff. If the 14th Article of Faith in the LDS church is “We believe in the Republican Party…” it seems that the opposite is true in the Community of Christ. (If there are any Community of Christ members who vote Republican, they have the good sense to keep their mouths shut about it when their coreligionists are around.)

Six of us got up to a frigid and snowy Saturday morning and joined the Ohioans lined up to get into the Kirtland High School gymnasium. (We didn’t have far to go; KHS is next door both to the Visitor Center and to the house where I was staying.)

Line up

The doors opened at 8am and Bill Clinton was scheduled to arrive at 8:30. The High School band was playing a mixture of pop standbys (the Jackson 5’s “ABC”) and patriotic classics (“God Bless America”). Around 9:15 — still no Bill — everyone stood as the band played the national anthem. Finally at 9:30 it was announced that Clinton would be here… in 15 minutes.

Fortunately this promise was kept and the former president arrived just over an hour late. Just as fortunate, Ohio’s governor and lieutenant governor kept their introductions very short. There were about three or four rows of people standing between me and Clinton. However, I’m 6’4″ and Ohioans are not a particularly tall people, so I had a very unobstructed view. It was the first time I’d attended a presidential political rally since 1992, when then-candidate Bill Clinton addressed a huge group of students on the campus of the University of Michigan.

Clinton made his pitch well: He had 3 major reasons and about 27 sub-reasons to vote for Hillary. He continues to be a very likable, personable person who speaks well. He’s very intelligent, but speaks in a way that is approachable and folksy — probably deliberately so. (He said “the al-qaeda” about half a dozen times, even though I’m sure he knows very well that “al” means “the”).

He got laughs, applause and cheers — I gave him all three, even though I’ve already endorsed Obama. I don’t have any hard feelings. Meanwhile, I already predicted back on February 10 — when Hillary was still up 20 points in Ohio and Texas — that she’d lose both and would drop out soon afterward. That prediction was a lot more bold back then than it would be now, but we’ll soon see if I’m right.

Bill Clinton

I headed back over to the Visitor Center right after the rally, just in case Clinton decided to show up for the tour after all. However, the fact that he was already running an hour late meant that any fat in his schedule would have to be trimmed.

As we watched his motorcade drive off down Chillecothe Road, we realized that Bill Clinton would not be the first president since James Garfield to visit the Temple — at least not that day. That honor will have to wait until another day.

Comments 21

  1. There was a Doonesbury strip Sunday yesterday that said that, whatever else you may say about Bush, he is definitely punctual, while Bill Clinton on the other hand…

  2. I love this post from you, John. My wife and I have treasured your February 10 prognostication about Hillary dropping out tomorrow as we are both Obama supporters.

    What a cool confluence of circumstances–and alliteration: Clinton in Kirtland. Any nods to the locals from Bill? Any indication he was familiar with the Kirtland area?

    Maybe Obama will be the next president to visit the Temple 🙂

    Your post reminds me of the moment I knew Obama would sweep the Utah primary: when I went to see Chelsea speak at the U of U. Compared to Cornel West’s speech the previous week and his endorsement of Obama, there was no competition. And of course, Utah was the only state in 1992 where Clinton came in third!

  3. Frankly, I’m a bit amazed that anyone is supporting Hillary at all. I don’t care for her or her husband, and I don’t think I ever will. Every time I hear them speak I find myself liking their methods less. It has absolutely zilch to do with their positions on almost anything, and everything to do with their methods and their seeming willingness to do just about anything to get power. Not interested.

    Now, as a right-leaning individual I don’t particularly support Obama’s policy, but I think I like him personally, which puts me in an interesting position. I find for the first time in a presidential election that I like the personality and character of a candidate whose positions and philosophies are not in keeping with my own. What I truly hope is that Obama is an intelligent person that will truly put aside personal politics in order order to do what needs to be done in order make the country better, even if that means listening to ideas that are not in keeping with liberal philosophy.

    See, I’m more of an Eclectic these days, preferring to take a pragmatic approach to politics. I want solutions that encompass the spectrum and that really try to fix the entire problem, rather than narrow focused bandaid solutions that don’t try to address why there’s a problem in the first place. For example, if your son cuts himself with a sharp knife, putting a bandaid on the cut is a good idea, and its about all that a lot of politicians do. Some politicians go a step further and take the knife away, which is a good step. Some take the next step and put locks on all the cupboards, which is how I view a lot of liberal leaning solutions. It is effective and it keeps the child away from the knives. Very safe. It also has a large number of unintended consequences, such as meaning that the child will not learn to use to the knife safely. A very few go the other direction and look at teaching the child when it is okay to use the knife, how to use it safely, and then take the time to enforce the rules. This last rule means a lot more work for the parents but is ultimately more appropriate for a childs well-being.

    The question in my mind is this: what will Obama do? Will he be a nanny-statist? Putting locks on doors, and trying to keep us all “safe” from our own dumb selves? Or will he be a pragmatist that looks for real solutions to problems and looks to the real root of a problem–not that there are sharp knives in the house, but that the child doesn’t know not to play with them? I hope he’ll do more of the latter than the former, but how do I know. Also, how do I trust his position on things like gun control, when I know that he wants tighter gun laws, which I oppose on constitutional and philosophical grounds. How do I trust him on things like national security? Will he pick a good advisor, seeing as how he himself clearly has no expertise on the matter?

    Of course, all this boils down to one thing: Obama > Clinton. I give props to Clinton for potentially visiting the Kirtland location, but then all credit is lost for not actually doing it. Didn’t Michelle Obama visit SLC and Church headquarters or something? Maybe I misread that…

    Interesting post, all the same.

  4. Clinton will win Ohio but lose Texas. She will make the case that all is not lost because Obama didn’t win Ohio. She will not get the delegates she needs, but neither will Obama get enough delegates. Clinton leads in Pennsylvania, and she will probably win that state, though that won’t help her get more delegates than Obama.

    She is in this for the long haul. She has felt, since 2000, that 2008 was her time. She won’t give it up after her losses tomorrow. And I don’t really want her to either. I voted for Obama here in New York City (Hillary’s HQ), but I prefer to have Democrats take the spotlight over the next several months.

    Barack Obama has been running a beautiful campaign, nicely responding back to any shots taken at him by Clinton, McCain and Bush. The more targets against him the better he looks, and the better honed leader he becomes.

  5. Oh and what is Bill Clinton doing in Illinois? Isn’t that Barack’s home state and didn’t it already have its primary back on Super Tuesday?

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    Seth (#1): I guess they will be able to put something positive on his tombstone.

    Benjamin (#3): You won’t have to worry about liking the Clintons; Hillary is not going to be the nominee. To be fair to Bill — as far as I know, he didn’t break a promise to tour the temple; it’s likely that it was the Mayor’s office that got it wrong.

    President Obama will not be a nannystatist — you’re thinking of today’s Republican Party, which believes that the Federal government should go so far as to write Federal laws covering single individuals, railroading the decisions of family guardians and their doctors (cf. Terri Schiavo). Obama, by contrast, will promote a lean, effective government, with the full understanding that market forces are dampened when there is an excess of over-regulation, but work equally poorly when there is no regulation at all. Smart, lean regulations empower the markets while curbing chaotic swings that endanger the marketplace itself. Famine, recession and rolling-black-outs are natural aspects of the market; however, the goal of smart/lean regulation is to avoid these sort of catastrophic corrections.

    Dan (#4): That’s what the current polls say and that’s what everyone’s predicting. Like I say, I prophesied back on Feb. 10 that Obama would win both Texas and Ohio. We won’t know for sure whether I’m a true or false prophet until tomorrow.

    Paula (#6): Thanks! What she said, Dan (#5, 7).

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    John N (#2): Thanks! The title was rolling off my tongue.

    The rally wasn’t an earth-shattering event, but I thought I’d share it. Unfortunately, Clinton just gave an ordinary stump speech. There were very few nods even to Ohio, much less to Kirtland.

    I’m crossing my fingers that my prophecies come true. I say the soothes as I see them. (Whence all this alliteration?) But I have to tell you, going down to Ohio, I was shocked how many Ohioans had not gotten the message that this thing is already over. They are an ornrey bunch and may prove unpredictable in the primary.

    However, I do predict that the GOP has no chance with the Ohioans this November. After several cycles where the will of the electorate felt circumvented, the blowback today leaves the Democratic organization on the ground in Ohio in a formidable condition. That’s probably the most important news.

  8. I was reading something the other day to the effect that where policies are equal, style counts for much. Bill has style, Hilary does not. Obama has style, Hilary is seemingly over coached. There is a large gap between Obama’s economic policy and Hilary’s, but otherwise the positions are pretty close. Granted, I am adverse to Hilary’s interest rate controls to support Obama for that reason alone.

    I see real leadership with Obama. Just like the speeches of Roosevelt defined a generation of policies and Kennedy and Reagan thereafter, I think that Obama will help bring a new morning in America.

    I am Canadian, but I can look from my window in the morning to New York State and feel close to the issues and ideals of what created the United States. I hope the next four years will bring better days.

    Now I have to get my American wife to actually vote!

  9. I have forgiven Bill Clinton for the Monica escapade. But the man cheats at golf…

    Some of us moderate Republicans find ourselves unable to support McCain due to character issues, and we’ve spent the better part of two decades risking aneurysms in our passionate anti-Clintonism. Obama offers us the chance to walk away from the GOP with a smidgen of dignity. Don’t let us down, all you Dems.

  10. John H.

    Again, I have to say that I find myself liking the tone of Obama’s rally’s. When I hear him on the radio (NPR) speaking, he sounds measured and even, or excited and thrilled. Hillary either sounds tired and a bit shrewish or shrill and shrieking. She never sounds pleasant to me. She always sounds grating. I’ve never heard hillary speak and thought, “well that sounded almost pleasant”. Even her husband had more style, and I really disliked his personal ethics. Obama is a person that I think I actually like. He also seems to be trying fairly hard to avoid alienating too many of the moderates and even the Republicans, which I also respect.

    As far as the modern Republican party is concerned, well you’ve got me there. I thought that the Schiavo case was a mess. It should have been left alone, and probably would have been had the media not gotten involved. One of the big problems with a national news media is that a case that once wouldn’t have gotten more than a few moments of attention can now be known to pretty much anyone in the world. Of course, I’m not sure what should have been done in that case, and I’m not sure anyone does. Not being a medical doctor, and not having her case files, I don’t know. Frankly, I reserve all my judgment in that case, and will leave to Almighty God.

    My personal politics lean more and more, as I said previously, towards a mix of pragmatic small, lean and effective government with a heavy dose of scientific research. As a human behavior researcher, I cannot ignore the past century or so of research on human behavior to inform me as what makes good policy when it comes to these things. A lot of this research is deeply and fundamentally flawed, but it is better than trying to rely on personal experience, which has just as much bias and as many flaws as the research. There is a great article called “In a word Not from Experience” (find it on google scholar, but you probably won’t be able to download it, sorry) which details why personal experience is not a good teacher. In a nutshell there are essentially four cells that are needed in order to tell if a particular method or approach to a situation is effective and personal experience typically only allows for you to hit one or two of those cells, and you remember those quite vividly and decide the effectiveness of the approach based on that alone. With that in mind, all sorts of people are using inefficient methods, approaches, and solutions for and towards solving problems in their personal and public lives that are insanely broken. Even those who are presidential candidates. This is why I don’t care at all about anyone’s ‘experience’. It is unimportant unless it is strongly accompanied by a record of proven results, such as Mitt Romney. But for career politicians, such as the Clintons, Obama and McCain, it makes almost no difference at all in my mind.

    Oh, and to 12? The corporatocracy isn’t going to get us anywhere, but Nader isn’t either. If we’re lucky. I’d rather see Ron Paul as president, and I think he’s crazy.*

    *Why I think Ron Paul is crazy: Oh, I like his stance on voting against almost everything that isn’t directly tied to the constitution. And I like his libertarian ways in some respects, but as another person said, his stance on drug policy needs serious consideration. Furthermore for me personally I think his foreign policy (unlike the other person, which may have been in another thread) is absolutely insanse. While I’m not certain I agree with the current motives for the Iraq War, I have serious doubts about the wisdom of an immediate withdrawal and what that would do. I also am very uncertain that an isolationist policy is wise or even possible, which as near as I read it seems to be Ron Paul’s approach. Nope, we have a global economy, and it’s only going to keep going that direction. Personally I would go a step further if I could and if I thought it were possible and could figure out a way to make it peacefully happen would happily go for a complete world government, even to the dissolution of the USA, China, the EU, England, and every other national border and identity. I have absolutely no use for the false national identities that keep cropping up, but that is, I suppose, a false hope, and probably best reserved for my sorry millenialist apsirations.

  11. Benjamin O,

    We, the British, tried to control and occupy Iraq once and it didnt get us anywhere. Your government will never let that jewel in its crown go as we let India go. You will be in there for the next 20 to 40 years. The US spending on the Iraq war is 3 trillion dollars according to Joseph Stiglitz. In the UK we could have gotten our NHS debt wiped away from 3 days of overseas war funding. When one opens their eyes and realizes that these wars, including Kosavo, are about opening up markets and securing resources and oil then I think it is disillusioning. I am disgraceful at how we in the west so blindly disobey all these International Treaties we have installed. It will come back to bite us one day.

    In terms of Ron Paul…you have to make the decision…either cut and run now saving yourselves money, young troops and ….or stay in a country for the next 20 to 40 years where you did not go there with congressional permission just as you have done in Korea. And why stay there? To secure resources In the case of Iraq, the war defies all sorts of interational law. I think Ron Paul’s stance is populistic and encouraging. The rest of the world is fed up with American imperialism…economic or militaristic…and that is not a generalisation…bbc international polls support this. The last 8 years has made America a hiss and a by-word amongst a majority of people in the world. Not “the world” of corporate rich white men…but the world that is full of 1 billion+ muslims, ethnics and women. Ron Paul is the peace offering that we in the world will never get and the type of leader, similar to Nader, who promises stars NOT corporate logos on the American flag.

    Good post Hamer….were there any of those 9/11 truthers there this time? Poor Bill seems to attract them from what I have seen on youtube.

  12. It was reported today that Senator Obama claimed to an audience of Evangelical Christians that gay marriage is supported by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, and that Obama thinks Paul’s statements criticizing homosexuyal behavior as sinful in the Epistle to the Romans is “obscure” and doesn’t count as authoritative. Obama did not say what part of the three chapters in the Sermon he was referring to. I assume it was NOT the part where Jesus is condemning people who even THINK about having sex outside of marriage.

    I predict that a President Obama would eventually support measures to punish states that do not pass gay marriage legislation (disqualify them for Federal grants, etc.), and churches that don’t support it–after all, he has Jesus on his side! California has already passed official legislation to punish teachers who say anything that a gay person takes as critical of their lifestyle. I predict President Obama will apply that standard in the federal government too: Oppose gay marriage and lose your Federal job or Federal contract. And he will go way beyond Bill Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military, requiring that gay couples be given military married family housing and benefits.

    Maybe you don’t mind that. But people should know what the guy stands for before they vote for him.

  13. Post

    Oh, the bitter taste of prophetic failure! False prophet! Charlatan! In the words of the prophet Moses channeled through Charleton Heston, “May God forgive my weak use of His strength.” (Note for future reference: I always use the Moses voice when I make political prognostications.)

    * * *

    In the wake of Hillary’s remarkable come back, I have no choice but to eat a big plate of crow. I think it’s amazing that she was able to execute the Guiliani strategy successfully — especially compared with Guiliani’s pathetic performance. (I think it really shows that if the lineups from last summer had held, Hillary would have been a natural candidate to throttle Rudy.)

    How does a person stop the momentum of 11 losses without any major change in the dynamic of the race? It almost makes you believe in “firewalls” again. I give credit to the candidate herself. I don’t think she’s been particularly well served by her campaign advisors, but she’s a formidable force in her own right. I think against any other adversary than Obama, she would have walked away with the primaries.

    I still don’t think there’s any chance she’ll be the nominee, but I guess things aren’t over on the Democratic side.

  14. John Hamer,


    The NAFTA incident did Obama in. That’s why Hillary won Ohio and probably Texas as well (though in Texas, the Hispanic vote was big).

    The NAFTA incident is particularly incendiary because it posits the conservative leader of Canada leaking memos out to influence the American vote against Obama. See, Obama is the best candidate to shut out the Republicans this November, and the Canadian leader is afraid that if Obama wins in America, liberals in Canada are going to feel refreshed and move against his base in Canada.

    Yeah, America is getting a taste of its own medicine from our neighbors to the north. Kinda sucks when they get involved in our electoral process, but well, we’ve been doing that all over the world so frequently that it is our second nature.

  15. Give us hope, John Hamer! We went to bed disappointed last night, and woke up disappointed by the Texas primary results this morning. Prophesy: will Obama win the Texas caucuses? What about the remaining 11 states?

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    John N (#18) — Take heart and imbibe the nector of hopebama! Hillary’s impressive wins keep her from pulling out today, but they don’t put her on a trajectory for victory. To win the delegates and the nomination, she needs to win nearly all the remaining primaries. Unless Obama has a bigger stumble than one of his advisors talking to the PM of Canada, the calendar doesn’t allow for that. Momentum apparently matters little this primary season. If the terrain variables stay constant, this is the calendar we have to look forward to:

    3/8 Wyoming > Obamaland
    3/11 Mississippi > Obamaland
    4/22 Pennsylvania > Clinton country
    5/3 Guam > Obamaland
    5/6 Indiana > Clinton country
    5/6 North Carolina > Obamaland
    5/13 West Virginia > Clinton country
    5/20 Kentucky > Clinton country
    5/20 Oregon > Obamaland
    6/3 Montana > Obamaland
    6/3 South Dakota > Obamaland
    6/7 Puerto Rico > Clinton country
    June-something Michigan-redo > Clinton country
    June-something Florida-redo > Clinton country

    She’s not going to sweep Obamaland, and without a big sweep, she’s not catching up with him. I think last night’s votes will prove to be like Huckabee’s victories on Super Tuesday. They technically resurrect the campaign while simultaneously moving a potential for victory into miracle territory.

  17. Post

    Dan (#17): You’re probably right about NAFTA. Exit polls seem to show that voters have achieved a super-majority consensus against the word “NAFTA.” Anyway, unlike McCain on immigration, it won’t be hard for Obama to run away from NAFTA — it’s not like Obama signed the treaty (the way Bill Clinton did) or authored an amnesty bill on immigration the way McCain did. Given the vehemence of the electorate on this non-issue during this recession year, it will probably be easy for Democrats to hang support for NAFTA around McCain’s neck and demagogue it to death. I think that’s sad, but that’s politics.

    Meanwhile, a friend sent me a photo that she says documents the single factor that Hillary over the top in Ohio:

    Viewed as an endorsement?
    Kirtland Temple Director Barb Walden and yours truly attend the Kirtland Clinton rally last Saturday. Was this viewed by Ohioans as an endorsement?!

  18. I can assure you that there are Community of Christ Republicans. Practically the entire Atlanta North Congregation and the Springfield VA Congregation are made up of Republicans (I’ve been members of both). In the Pacific Northwest (where I live now), most members tend to be Democrats. The Community of Christ members I knew in Utah congregations tended to be Democratic, probably because of the dominance of Mormons and Republicans in that state.

    When you meet a Community of Christ member, you can’t assume what their political views are. Unlike, say, Mormons…though all of my Mormon friends just happen to be Democrats.

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