‘Speech on the Beach’ left lasting impression
Fifteen years is quite a while -- for politicians it could be an entire career -- so to dial back to 1993 might not be completely fair, but still it is good to recall.
It was remembered afterward as the "Speech on the Beach" and it was how Hawaii got to know President Bill Clinton.
The speech was somewhat planned, but in the sometimes spur-of-the-moment planning of the Clinton administration, the actual details were left up to the last minute.
"They are so young; they have never done this; they are just puppies," one veteran but still harried public relations executive said of Clinton's staff, as she worked to pull it off.
There were some bleachers, but mostly thousands stood in the sun on the beach past the Hilton Hawaiian Village to listen to Clinton. It was a great speech. Clinton, back from a trip to Asia, ticked off his results but knew he was talking to a local Hawaii audience.
Mentioning that 1993 was the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, Clinton noted that his good friend Gov. John Waihee had been hammering at him on this issue "for months and months."
With President Bush, just having Gov. Linda Lingle convince him to utter the words "native Hawaiians" was considered a victory. But 15 years ago on the beach, Clinton spoke up.
"I pledge to you that I will work with him (Waihee) ... to address these concerns in a positive way. We will not forget them," Clinton vowed.
Back in 1993, health care was still a project under way at the White House, with Hillary Clinton steering. In Honolulu that afternoon, President Clinton already knew about Hawaii's pioneering prepaid health plan with its mandates for employers to contribute to workers' heath care costs.
"We have learned a lot from Hawaii's health care system," Clinton said.
To the cries from the audience of "Justice for Hawaii," Clinton responded: "I hope we can provide it."
I mention all those recollections because this weekend Hawaii Democrats are mulling over a vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama in the Tuesday night caucuses.
Both Clinton and Obama were made available to local media last week. Clinton had a brief call which consisted mostly of reading from a press release and then answering three questions. Obama conducted 10-minute one-on-one interviews and seemed much more relaxed. Winning the last eight caucuses and primaries must do that.
Neither Clinton nor Obama took time to heap any praise on Hawaii's health care or spontaneously bring up the injustices done to native Hawaiians.
Perhaps you just have to appreciate great speeches, like that one on the beach, as once-in-your-lifetime events.