Thursday, August 05, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: Presidents Bill Clinton and Ken Starr

The August Wacoan is now available, and it contains my interview with new Baylor President Ken Starr. From the time he was hired, I have thought that Judge Starr brings a great skill set to this job at just the right time for Baylor.

I'd like to highlight two parts of the interview, and get peoples' opinions on the second.

First, I really love what seems to be at the heart of Judge Starr's vision for Baylor:

WACOAN: In a world of online education and the financial challenges that we see in the education market right now, what does Baylor have to offer a bright and interesting 18-year-old that will make it worth the financial cost?

Starr: Well, we are still a bargain, and we are officially recognized as one. At the same time, the cost of higher education is an enormous factor. I’m working on that and have identified that as my single priority, to wrestle with the cost of education here at Baylor.

But what Baylor offers is transformation. As we have moved to be more of a research institution, we continue to value not only teaching, but we value teaching as part of a larger, more holistic approach in which we value all human beings. We see the students as being eternally valuable. We care about them and that means mentoring, nurturing. Great teaching is at the core of what we do because we are a university, but at the same time, we go the extra mile. We stop our work in the laboratory or the library. We keep our doors open to the students, and we say in every way, ‘We care about you.’

We also provide — I think the most remarkable thing — opportunities at spiritual formation and to develop one’s sense of call. I saw that last evening at Independence, Texas [the birthplace of Baylor]. That trip was an invitation for one to reflect on one’s sense of calling. It was beautiful. It was an opportunity to connect with the past in that very deep moral and spiritual sense, and to hear these great stories, some of which are fairly recent and some are almost ancient.

WACOAN: That word ‘transformation’ is a great one in this context. I know that I see that in my students. If I have something in the courts or in Congress, I bring students to help me, and let them share the project. It’s remarkable to see the change in their outlook. I’m very happy to hear that word ‘transformation’ being used, because it’s possible.

Starr: It’s done daily.

I love that line about student transformation: "It's done daily." He could not be more right, and there is no higher aspiration for a university than what Judge Starr is setting out. It is student-centered, challenging, meaningful, ambitious, and built on faith-- exactly what Baylor should be. The editors of the Wacoan chose wisely when they titled the piece "Transformation."

Here is the second quote, on which I seek opinions:

WACOAN: One of the things you did at Pepperdine was bring in very significant speakers, including Supreme Court justices. Will you be able to do the same thing here at Baylor?

Starr: I hope so. I certainly will be working with folks at the university more generally to see who would be helpful to bring into the community and share. It’s always great for students, but it’s also great for the faculty, the administrators, the staff to be able to see a renowned lawyer or justice of the Supreme Court.

WACOAN: Would you ever consider having one of those people be Bill Clinton?

Starr: Of course! I’d be honored to have President Clinton here.

I thought that Judge Starr's response was startling, Christian, and honest. Since I was the only other one there, I can vouch for his sincerity in saying this. If such an invitation were issued (say, an invitation to both Clinton and George H.W. Bush to talk about Haiti) and accepted, it would be a wonderful moment of reconciliation, and send out a perfect and positive message about Baylor. Talk about transformation!

So... do you think President Starr should make such an invitation?

If he does, should President Clinton accept?

"We keep our doors open to the students, and we say in every way, ‘We care about you.’

Unless the Regents are in town, in which case students better get the hell out of the way. Those leased BMW 3 series and pleated pants aren't gonna find their own parking places!
I think it's a fair request, and one Clinton would likely accept. Clinton's a lawyer, the same as Starr, and he probably realizes that there wasn't, at least at the outset, any personal motivation of Starr to seek his impeachment. He was hired to do a job (prosecute a sitting President) and went after it with the zeal characteristic of lawyers in an adversarial system.

That's not to say that reasonable people might disagree over the details of his execution of that office, but I am sure that there are people that think I am too zealous/not zealous enough/whatever in my own position as a prosecutor. It happens, but lawyers can separate professional conduct from personal.
Also, this is not the most volatile topic for today. The most volatile is that an evil lefty coalition of lawyers for former President Bush and Federalist Society members have illegally ganged up with a Reagan appointee (who we know is a commie) to undo the democratic will of the people in striking down California's Porposition 8 as unconstitutional.

Oh, and apparently, the 14th Amendment is unconstitutional as well, because it allows immigrants to have children that are American citizens. But don't look at me. I think all illegal immigrants ought to be deported. So patch up the Mayflower, boys.
Criminal prosecution without peronsal antagonism ought to be the goal of the criminal justice system from the top to the bottom. An invitation from Ken Starr to Bill Clinton to education Starr's students would set an excellent example for proseutors to follow everywhere.

Let me get my Motorola Razor out. I've got Clinton's moblie number right here...
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While it's cool to hear that Starr would be open to Clinton coming to speak-- and obvious how such an experience could benefit students-- I see no chance of Clinton accepting such an offer.
Think about it-- what does Clinton stand to gain? The entire Whitewater/Lewinsky drama would get dredged up and splashed all over national newspapers and TV again.
Meanwhile, Clinton's wife, who endured woman after woman coming forward to talk about her husband's amoral private parts, is the secretary of state. I'd bet a political advisor or two would step in and, let's say, advise against Slick Willie making such a move.
About the only thing he'd stand to gain-- and I view it as trumping the others, but few others would-- is that Clinton would appear to be a reasonable man. The "bigger man," so to speak.
I hope I'm wrong, but it'll never happen. At least, it won't happen until the Clintons no longer are politically motivated, and I don't see that day on the horizon.
Dear internet,


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