One day in early-1996 I came home from work and found my wife Brenda curled up in a ball, kicking the floor – wailing and crying. I got down on my knees and asked her what was wrong. She kept screaming over and over that she “wanted a baby!!!” I thought her mother had died or possibly her sister. But her Catholic procreative instinct had manifested into total baby frenzy. I explained to her that we were not financially ready to have children and that we needed to wait for a couple of years until I could secure a better job. That only made her cry more. Obviously, this was how she was going to negotiate bringing a new life into the world. Peruvian style. So, I thought about it for a couple of months. I thought hard. And I then agreed that we should start trying to have a child. After all, every husband wants to please his wife. I was just a little interpersonally disturbed that the “conversation about children” had come down to a ridiculous dramatic display of raw unbridled emotions. So, she got off birth control and we stopped using condoms; within two months she had conceived, the stick turned blue. We were going to be parents. It’s funny, you know. You spend your entire life trying to avoid the pregnancy of your partner, and then in a series of extremely irrational and flamboyant dramatic negotiations, your entire life changes.
During the 1990s, CNN was considered a reliable and trustworthy news network. They were fairly objective and did not have an obvious globalist-left bias, like they do today. The Kenneth Starr investigation into Bill Clinton had been going on for several months, and then I got the shock of my life – there was video footage running on air of Dr. Stephen A. Smith being arrested at the University of Arkansas on CNN. I was completely floored. I was beside myself. What had Steve done? CNN was reporting that Steve had been involved with the McDougall’s and Governor Jim Guy Tucker in some fraudulent bank loan activity in Arkansas. I knew that the Republicans and Kenneth Starr were dragging up all the possible dirt that they could find on Bill Clinton, and therefore this had to be politically motivated. And it was. I immediately emailed Steve at the University of Arkansas, and asked him what the hell was going on? Steve did not respond. In three or four days, he wrote me back and said he had to be quiet because he was going through some very serious shit. I wrote him back and told him that I completely understood and that he had my personal and professional support and love. I also told him to be strong, because it was obvious that the Republican Party was moving toward the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I knew that Newt Gingrich and the GOP would use any means necessary in the House of Representatives and Senate to try and dethrone Bill Clinton. The scandal was all over the news and Steve and I stopped communicating for a couple of months even though I sent him a steady stream of love and support. In conclusion, Steve plea bargained a deal with the prosecutors to plead guilty to a misdemeanor account of misappropriation of a bank loan. But the press surrounding his involvement in Whitewater challenged him personally and psychologically for a duration of a couple of years. It was strange watching international newspapers and cable television outlets take your friend and brother to the woodshed. I learned a lot about how the media can magnify things out of proportion and damage and wreck people’s personal and professional lives. Not only was Steve in trouble, but so was the President of the United States. When a political party wants to do a “tar and feather” job on someone, it becomes a high-tech lynching. Any means necessary. No one is spared. Professional networks, family affiliations, it doesn’t matter. The press can be very cruel on people. Human beings.
Luckily, all of Steve’s close personal and professional friends stood by his side. Including me. Fuck Newt Gingrich! In the University of Arkansas, there was ample support for the Clintons and for Steve Smith. In 1996, despite all the scandals and mudslinging and name-calling and jokes and ridicule, Pres. Bill Clinton was reelected. I had very personal reasons for becoming a Democrat. I started to hate the Republican Party and everything that it stood for because of the damage it did to my brother and his allies. Steve and I resumed communicating on an hourly basis. And somehow, his humor and life outlook remained consistently positive even though he had been publicly dragged through the mud. From 1996 to 2000, Bill Clinton would continue to usher in a thriving economy, no wars, and a domestic agenda that literally defined a generation. You might hate Bill Clinton. You might hate Hillary Clinton. You might think they are crooks and liars and thieves. But all I experienced from “Clinton’s Arkansas” was innovative, progressive, forward-looking policy and politics that directly impacted people’s lives and careers. While it is true that President Clinton had some personal shortfalls, admittedly, I tend to look at the politician and what he or she can do for the entire body politic. My affiliation with Steve on a personal level only made my allegiance to Bill Clinton that much stronger. As they say, all politics is personal. Very, very personal, indeed.
In February of 1997, Brenda gave birth to our beloved son. Because of the sensitive nature of this book, my son has personally asked that I not use his name. Anyway, even though I was quite hesitant about the idea and notion of having a child, the delivery of my son in Monticello, Arkansas became one of the highlights of my life. Many people don’t realize how serious it is to have a child. But your biological and psychological instincts go through a dramatic reformation when you become a parent. Everything seems to take on a much more serious and focused demeanor. As well, because of the feeding schedule for infants, you start losing a lot of sleep. Diapers, formula, doctor visits, 3:00am feedings – your entire life completely changes. The additional responsibility of being a parent weighed down my professional performance. As well, it was a significant financial burden on a meager teacher’s salary. But the joy and love and peace and bond that I felt when holding my son in my arms is something that I would not trade for anything in the world. All the work was definitely worth it. However, taking care of a young infant and raising a child into maturity is easily twenty times more difficult than getting a doctoral dissertation completed. I don’t take much stock or account into what people say about life if they don’t have children. You must go through the life process of raising a child, I believe, to understand what the word “responsibility” actually, really means. And furthermore, I don’t really think you are a parent, unless you have a minimum of two children or more.
From 1996 to 1998 I spent most of my professional time developing my web mastering skills and learning basic computer science. I published a little bit, but most of my work was invested in websites. At one of the American Communication Association conventions I met a gentleman by the name of Paul Barefield. Dr. Barefield was the communication department chair at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, Louisiana — home of the Ragin’ Cajuns – smack dab in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun country. He asked me if I was interested in coming to the University of Southwestern Louisiana, and explained to me that my website development skills could have huge potential for consulting because the Acadiana region of Southwestern Louisiana was rich in oil and gas reserves due to the offshore drilling industry. As well, he let me know that the institution was trying to change its name from the University of Southwestern Louisiana to simply the University of Louisiana, and it was a Carnegie II classification research university. We talked for a couple of hours, and I told him that I would seriously consider it. But, my heart was still set on the University of Arkansas. With no traction or luck, unfortunately.
In 1997, Steve Smith was teaching a course abroad during the summer at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. He invited me to attend this course and told me that the Clinton family had some good connections at Oxford. So, I did everything within my power financially to make sure that I was part of this experience. In January 1997, Steve emailed me the required course readings for his seminar. And I immediately began reading the treatises. We were going to be studying the foundations of common law as it applied to free speech theory in the United Kingdom and the United States. This was classical high theory, and very legalistic and philosophical in its approach. This would be my second international flight, and I would be leaving my son with my wife Brenda in Arkansas for 6 to 8 weeks. But I would basically be doing postgraduate studies with one of the world’s disciplinary leaders in free speech theory and First Amendment law based at Oxford University. This was my first cross-Atlantic flight. I really wasn’t prepared to go this long of a distance in flight. But I made it to Heathrow, boarded a bus in London and traveled to Oxford. We were staying at St. Benet’s Hall, which is where the seminar would be held. It was basically a Franciscan monastery, with an active church and congregation. Not one of the high-end colleges at Oxford, but it had a reputation of producing some very noteworthy scholars.
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