Clinton, Obama and the Arts


While the race for President is far from over, it is now time to start asking ourselves what kind of President either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would be with regard to the arts. (If John McCain is the Republican nominee, I’ll start to follow him, too; the very personable Mike Huckabee has given no indication of intense affection of any kind for the performing arts beyond the occasional urge to pick up a guitar.) I’m not going to undertake a complete discussion here of Obama and Clinton, because I’ll be tracking this topic throughout 2008. A few very quick comments: both of them favor an increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts; both of them favor changes in the tax code to benefit visual artists. The telling signpost for me, however, is what they do in their rare, treasured down time. Obama works out at the gym, watches ESPN, and listens to music. Clinton, as far as I can tell, has love for live performers much more in her bones. Both she and her husband, often with their daughter, Chelsea, can regularly be seen in New York watching plays and ballets and attending concerts. While this kind of culture vulturism has almost nothing to do with the ability to be an effective President, it does, for me, confer something admirable on a candidate. To be continued…

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