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First printed in
The Morning News
of Northwest Arkansas
Aubrey's Notebook:
Sharing Outdoor Experience Good for Clinton

Arkansas duck hunters and foes of gun control expressed pleasure at seeing the president on a duck-hunting trip recently.

The television networks showed President Clinton in camouflage clothing with a party of hunters. The president did not, however, claim to have killed the only duck the group took that morning.

Many Arkansas conservationists have tried to increase Clinton's concern for the environment by inviting him on outdoor-sports activities over the past decade or more. Occasionally, Clinton has participated.

As I recall, Clinton is a life member of Ducks Unlimited and has helped attract large donations to DU, the Nature Conservancy, the Arkansas Wildlife Federation and other conservation groups by appearing at fund-raising events held by such groups.

But Clinton is not a serious hunter. He is, however, reasonably well informed about conservaion matters and the importance of sporting arms to a significant number of those who support him in politics.

Few dedicated outdoorsmen can be drawn into the political life. Teddy Roosevelt was the most visible American hunter of all time, I suspect, and the major exception to the rule.

Al Gore, as vice president, has written and spoken a great deal in support of important environmental concerns. If Clinton's major social and economic policies succeed, maybe Gore will manage to move the environment to the top of the polical agenda in coming years.

The president's visit to Arkansas last week caused a lot of activity, much of it possibly good. But a waitress in Fayetteville may remember Clinton's visit with anger for a while.

According to one of her fellow employees, the young woman, a university student working part time, dashed into the street when the Clinton entourage stopped in front of her work place. Leaving several tables of lunch customers untended, she left herself vulnerable to a boss who apparently lacked a sense of humor.

She was summarily dismissed from her job. No report of the amount of tips left by her customers accompanied the story. And no one said whether she was allowed her share of those tips.

The president, of course, could recommend her for work someplace else, but he would not be able to help every potential victim of excessive excitement when his entourage appears.

Anyway, maybe the outdoor sportsmen among the Washington crowd that now gets first chance at Clinton will keep taking him outdoors and increase his awareness of the value of the environment and the outdoor sports that depend on a healthy environment.

And maybe that young waitress will pay more attention to the customers that help pay for her education and ignore celebrities from now on.

Among my personal New Year's resolutions is to try to ignore distractions and get my own work done faster and better.


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Aubrey James Shepherd
Fayetteville, AR © 2003, 2004, 2005

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