Wednesday, 23 December 2009
Politicians I admire, Part 2
President Bill Clinton gives his last official speech as president at Warwick University
The silver international award goes to former US president Bill Clinton. I attended his last speech at Warwick as president when he called for the end of agricultural subsidies in developed countries which cause so much damage to the Global South.
Bill Clinton has that elusive quality, charisma. It is difficult to define, perhaps in his case personal magnetism and an ability to empathise. He made mistakes in his decision making, as every president does. But under his guidance the US pursued a broadly liberal internationalist policy which was in contrast to that of his successor.
He made mistakes in his personal life, but all human beings are flawed. I was talking to someone the other day who said that he had played basketball with Bill at Oxford and the media were always after him for dirt. This also happened to a colleague of mine who knew Bill at Oxford. However, his real friend was the notoriously grumpy college porter. He was the only person from Oxford to be invited to his inauguration, but was too ill to go.