Another very bad week for the GOP. (Since Bush promised to fire anyone who leaked classified information, I wonder how he will fire himself? Maybe he can ask Tom Delay for pointers…)
However, this week being Palm Sunday and ending in Easter, I am not going on the offensive this week. (I’m certain there will be plenty to keep me busy next week, next month, and so on--the next quiet time will be Xmas week, but that will be after the election :). In fact, this is a unique week for me. One year ago exactly I was in Crawford, Texas, and 10 years ago I was in Hope, Arkansas. You can tell a lot about a person from their hometown, so I would like to take this opportunity to talk first hand about these interesting places. Happy Easter, everyone!
A place called Hope: Right off the interstate was a brown interstate sign that spoke of the birthplace of Bill Clinton. In 1996, Clinton is president, and my wife and I were both big fans, so we decided to pull into town. There were signs everywhere for the town’s claim to fame:
the annual watermelon festival.
In fact, portraits of watermelons were more frequent than tributes to Bill (a few antique shops had those classy cardboard cutouts, though). Bill had two childhood homes here—and a map at the visitor’s center let you see his homes, school, etc. (I don’t remember too much about his homes, except they were small). In fact, there wasn’t anything very distinctive I remembered about Hope. There were churches, schools, a railroad: pretty much everything a small town should have.
However, what I do remember is the friendliness of everyone we met. Everyone smiled, waved and wanted to talk to you. I also remember it being very racially diverse. Hope had a lot of charm, but the people really made the town. My wife, a collector of ceramic bells, found her Hope bell (it featured, what else, a Watermelon), and we continued our journey.
Western Whitehouse, Crawford: I was in Waco on business, and I had seen the sites: Dr. Pepper museum, Ranger museum, and the area of the former Branch Davidian compound. Crawford was only 30 minutes away, so what the hey. The town is really out there, and it wasn’t even on the map we had, but people guided us along the way. Although not at all racially diverse, the people here are very friendly and helpful. (I could tell you it was an evil place filled with evil people, but I’d be lying). The downtown is truly small; it consists of a barber shop, a post office, a diner, gas station, a building that I think is supposed to be city hall, and two large shops dedicated to selling Bush paraphernalia. One of the things they sell is postcards or magnets of the Big Orange sign that appears on the road in front of the Western White House: NO STOPPING NO STANDING NO PARKING.
After visiting the downtown, I got directions to the Western White House. The dirt road we were on suddenly gave way to many HUGE and beautiful ranches. When we passed the Big Orange sign, we had made it. The buildings on the compound are simply too far from the road to see, but the Secret Service compound with their dozens of satellite dishes and black SUVs by the fork in the road lets you know where the entrance is. We almost got to see inside the Secret Service compound because my co-worker/driver tapped the brakes after we had passed the Big Orange sign: a black SUV pulled out from behind the trees and tailed us until we turned around and headed back. (Thankfully, the rental car was registered to a republican).
And even though I felt much more comfortable in Hope, I can tell you there were many similarities. Both were friendly, southern towns, both very patriotic, and both equally devoted to their favorite sons.
The only real difference is that I couldn’t bring myself to buy the Crawford ceramic bell for my wife. (I couldn’t resist the refrigerator magnet of the Big Orange sign, though).