Clinton makes good...for now

It’s good to see President Bill Clinton taking a break from being the “race pimp” for his wife’s presidential campaign, and focusing on something he is actually good at – humanitarian aid work.

This weekend Clinton joined actor Brad Pitt and 600 students from around the world for the inaugural meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University, which was held at Tulane University in New Orleans. The meeting was an opportunity to look at some of the world’s most pressing issues, such as poverty alleviation, climate change, global health, and education. It is no coincidence that this event was held in New Orleans, where two and a half years after Hurricane Katrina, the lives of victims are still shattered. All the attendees participated in rebuilding homes in the devastated Lower Ninth Ward.

I have been down there twice since the hurricane, and it is still hard to believe that Americans are beginning to forget what happen there. But it is not surprising either, as many Americans, especially those in the White House, want to believe that social injustice and poverty is an “over there” issue, as in a problem that only exists in the developing world.

One of the best things to come out of the now deceased president campaign for John Edwards was the idea of “Two Americas” – one for the rich and secure and the other for the rest. The United States has one of the highest rates of citizens without health insurance and the lowest performing schools for a Western nation – and these problems are interconnected with economic and racial disparities.

New Orleans embodied all of these problems prior to the storm, and only increased afterwards. The city is now not only dealing with a severely increased crime rate and housing crunch, but is also dealing a major problem of treating mentally ill residents who have been displaced when Charity Hospital, the only hospice for severely mentally ill in New Orleans, was closed indefinitely after Katrina. And let’s not forget about the Katrina victims who are still living in trailers and waiting for FEMA checks all over the country.

So, for all the criticism President Clinton has received for things he has said recently about Barack Obama, he is making good use of his time now.

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