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17 May 2008

Everything I know about the Clintons, I learned in high school


On May 6, 2008 I voted in my local school board election. This was the first WCS board of education election in which I participated, since becoming a resident of the Warren Community Schools district in 1996. I suppose that makes me something of a slacker of among voters. Not to defend my inactions, but the school board elections in this community have at times been referred to in the local press at "stealth elections" because of their being scheduled "off the beaten path," if you will, of August primaries and November general elections where virtually all other political questions of this jurisdiction are resolved. Combine the offbeat scheduling with the fact of the nonpartisan ballot, the dearth of press coverage of school board meetings and votes, and the normally miniscule level of participation in such elections, and I am a little informationally intimidated. The candidates are inevitably people I've never heard of. Since I'm (proud to be) child free, my social world rarely intersects the K-12 education community. One result is that I feel like an outsider when it comes to local public schools.


My participation this year is no doubt part of an abnormally high turnout due to the piggybacking of a Macomb County charter proposal to the Stealth Election Day agenda. I heard about this proposal in the local media only three days prior to the election. The local polity seems to have a penchant for slipping things other the rug.


In the alternative and lefty press, mostly during the halcyon 1990's, I have also heard school board elections referred to as "stealth elections." Among that faction of editorial opinion, it has been alleged that the careers of so-called "religious right" politicians are often launched in local school boards precisely because of the under-the-radar way in which these elections are administered in many school districts in many parts of America. I was always at least a little bit skeptical about such claims, but my experience Tuesday begs certain questions.


My polling place is C. S. Mott High School. Normally the voting takes place in a large room that appears to be either a gymnasium or a lunchroom. This time it was in the school library. Between the library entrance and the voter processing station was the 'biography' section of the library, which of course I browsed while waiting for my wife to finish voting. The following list represents the school library's entire biographical holdings (barring possible books in circulation) on Bill Clinton:


Brown, Slick Willie;
Evans-Pritchard, The Secret Life of Bill Clinton;
Coulter, The Secret Life of Bill Clinton;
Timper, Lake and Triplett, Year of the Rat;
Oakley, On the Make;
Tyrrell, Boy Clinton;
Lowry, Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years;
Coulter, High Crimes and Misdemeanors;
Morris, Because He Could;
Tyrrell and anon., The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton


Here's the entire biographical holdings on his wife:


Limbacher, Hillary's Scheme;
Milton, The First Partner;
Brock, The Seduction of Hillary Rodham;
Anderson, American Evita


I'm not a big fan of the Clintons, but I'm critical of them from the left. Neither that perspective, nor anything in the way of positive portrayals, appears to be available in this library. Certainly a school library would not be providing students with a representative sampling of the marketplace of ideas without featuring authors such as Ann Coulter, Dick Morris and the pre-enlightenment David Brock. That being said, the starkly monotone range of available perspectives on a particular subject suggests that a clique with an ideological agenda may have captured the school library acquisitions process here. It remains for me to research whether this results from a development in school board politics, patterns in the donation of books, voter and/or parent demands, or any of the other plausible means of stacking the library stacks.

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