Where Charity Begins
Saturday June 19, 2004
One of the joys of having spent a lifetime in radio is the chance and opportunity it has afforded me to meet some of the most generous and talented of people. I know that in certain conservative circles in Washington D.C. it's always in vogue to mock showbiz folk who have opinions and convictions, but I'd like those critics to know that, here in Los Angeles, the moment there is a cause, a need, or a worthwhile political issue, you can count on the entertainers to give of their money and their talents. They do so unstintingly. Mostly liberal? Probably, but they put their money where their mouths are. This afternoon was a typical and wonderful example. The setting was a beautiful garden in the gated area of Malibu; The Colony.
The event was for "Operation USA". They do a lot of work helping the less fortunate in this country, but their major impact over the past quarter century has been in dangerous and poverty stricken areas of the world. They are all volunteers, under the leadership of their founder, Richard Walden. When he begs, he gets results; millions in dollars and medical supplies, Boeing 747s and whatever else is requested to fulfill the needs of the dying or starving, the malnourished or poor, in every part of the globe.
It was my great good fortune to be the host...the MC.. of the event. Julie Andrews, (or to be accurate, the deservedly titled, Dame Julie Andrews), Olivia Newton John and Mike Farrell were among the many luminaries who lined up at the buffet tables and then sat down to bid on the items that it was my task to auction off. They were very generous.
Richard Walden used to call me on the air from the most disparate and unexpected of places....the jungles of Cambodia, the plains of Africa, Central America, Vietnam, Sudan (and the list could go on and on). He's a brilliant lawyer who gave it all up to fight for the needs of others, and hardly anyone turns this charismatic man down. Charitable giving of this sort occurs, of course, in every community across the United States - and I truly do not know of any people, anywhere in the world, who are as devoted to working for others as readily as are Americans.
During the afternoon I spoke with many people on the subject of presidential politics. Nothing in depth, but I just wanted to get a feeling of how these well-heeled people were thinking when it came to the forthcoming presidential elections. I did not hear one of them say, "I'm going to vote for four more years of Bush". Not one. Most of them reflected on how scared they would be if...if he was to serve for four more years. (I knew I liked this audience).
With the president in mind, just last week when the Clintons and many other dignitaries were invited to the White House for the unveiling of the official portraits of Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton, we witnessed another side of President George W. Bush. Was it from the heart or hypocritical of him to say of the man the conservatives love to hate, "He filled this house with energy and joy". And then he praised his predecessor for a "far-ranging knowledge of public policy, a great compassion for people in need..and the forward looking spirit Americans like in a president". How right you are sir, to which I would like to add that the core of Mr. Kerry's advisors include Madeleine Albright, veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke, and the Clinton national security advisor Sandy Berger.That's the caliber of person we should expect if, and when, Sen.John Kerry becomes president. And Mr. Clinton? He'll be there at the Democrat's convention in Boston...the man who led this country to unprecedented prosperity. I think we'll have one Clinton...or another ...around and influential for a long time to come. As Christopher Caldwell of the Financial Times recently wrote, "As Alice Roosevelt once said of her father, Theodore, he wants to be the bride at every wedding, and the corpses at every funeral".
Now it's time for me to read the Bill Clinton autobiography...or at least, I shall, just as soon as I can line-up and get a copy of it.