- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 12, 2003

Toastmaster, diplomat, motivational speaker, TV star, radio host, author the press has mulled over the career trajectory of former President Bill Clinton plenty since he left office.
But egad, what this? Chancellor of Oxford?
At 56, Mr. Clinton may add yet another prospect to his burgeoning resume. Like other moments in his life, however, this news is open to interpretation.
The Times of London announced Tuesday that officials of Britain's oldest university hoped to appoint Mr. Clinton as its new chancellor, succeeding Lord Roy Jenkins, who had died two days earlier.
It would be "tremendously good fun," noted one dean, particularly if the 800-year-old bastion of learning needed a deft fund-raiser.
The same rumors that Mr. Clinton was to be appointed chancellor were first reported by a doting British press three years ago, even before he left the White House.
This time around, an Oxford University spokesman allowed that Mr. Clinton was a viable choice for chancellor, unless the former president had to stay in Britain "for significant amounts of time. That might interfere with his lecture tours."
If Mr. Clinton does not become a fixture at Oxford, he will at least be a presence at the University of Arkansas. Beginning Thursday, the university will offer a much ballyhooed course titled "The Clinton Presidency," complete with a lecture from political science professor Margaret Scranton on "Why study the Clinton presidency?"
Meanwhile, talk of the former president's possible appointment to Oxford as chancellor has some legs. He is an alumnus, said to be very fond of his years on campus. Mr. Clinton studied at Oxford from 1968 to 1970; it was the site of the pivotal moment when he tried, but did not inhale marijuana. It was also the site where Mr. Clinton engaged in protests against the Vietnam War.
To get the position, Mr. Clinton would need an official nomination from a fellow graduate, plus the votes of some 60,000 Oxfordians during an election to be held in March.
But wherever Mr. Clinton goes, hubbub follows.
Almost immediately, the BBC reported that "Oxford University has dismissed suggestions that Bill Clinton would be its new figurehead," adding that no nominations for the unpaid, largely ceremonial job had been received.
Editorials began to appear.
"Bill Clinton is the wrong man for Oxford," the Guardian proclaimed.
There would be "Parties galore. Swooning hacks. Honorary degrees for Kevin Spacey, Chelsea and Buddy the labrador. Money raining down," the Guardian observed, despite the fact that Mr. Clinton's dog is now deceased.
The newspaper also added a fancy string of Latin to its missive, which translated as: "May your talent for fund raising make you, President Clinton, a profitable chancellor of the University of Oxford."
The Oxford Student, the university's newspaper, proposed Mr. Clinton as chancellor with much ado two years ago, but has since cooled.
"He is hugely charismatic, clearly intelligent," the Student wrote. "However, when one remembers that a major role, perhaps the major role, of the chancellor, is to act as representative for the university, the proposition becomes less attractive."
By week's end, the American press was in full cry.
Mr. Clinton's spokeswoman told the Chicago Tribune that her boss was too busy with his presidential foundation and was not considering any strategic alliance with Oxford. Giddy reports followed on broadcast and cable networks.
Such commotion did not follow the post-White House years of, say, Teddy Roosevelt, who was only 51 when he left office and promptly left on a year-long safari in Africa.
William Howard Taft, who was 55 on his presidential retirement, became a professor at Yale. Woodrow Wilson became a lawyer, Calvin Coolidge a newspaper columnist, Herbert Hoover a government adviser, Harry Truman a Democratic campaign consultant, Dwight D. Eisenhower a writer and president of Columbia University.
In later administrations, Lyndon B. Johnson left office to become a rancher; Richard Nixon a writer; Gerald Ford both a writer and lecturer; Jimmy Carter a volunteer and diplomat; Ronald Reagan a writer and lecturer; and George H.W. Bush, also a writer and lecturer.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide