LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Little Rock Airport Commission took Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign mantra “two for the price of one” literally Tuesday morning.
The commission voted unanimously to rename the city’s airport the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration will have to approve the name change. The airport’s three-letter code – LIT – will not change.
Congratulations, Hillary. No other former first lady shares her name with her husband on an airport.
Back in the 1980s, most Arkansans, it’s safe to guess, never expected such an honor would be bestowed to the Yankee who snared their native son’s Southern heart during college. With her hootie-eyed spectacles and long, hippie dresses, Hillary took a lot of heat for dissing her husband’s surname and keeping her own. Southern women didn’t look too kindly on such blatant feminism.
But not a peep of protest against Hillary was heard at the commission hearing. Instead, three people spoke against Bill, citing that he didn’t deserve the accolade because of his “debauchery” and his “fleshly lust” while in office. One person thought the new name could make the airport a joke because of its possible countrified combo name “Hillbillary.”
It’s safe to say Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the word “hillbilly” doesn’t gel in the minds of most people.
Perhaps it is a tad ironic for Clinton watchers that an airport would be named after the former first couple. One of Bill Clinton’s first mistakes as president occurred on a runway in Los Angeles when it shut down for Air Force One so he could get his hair styled.
Coincidentally, on Tuesday while Little Rock celebrated the new name of its small 12-gate airport, Hillary was attending a press conference at the State Department concerning new evidence in aviatrix Amelia Earhart’s disappearance in her airplane 75 years ago.
Hillary is certainly flying high herself.
While she has said that she will leave her post as Secretary of State at the end of the year, her fans and political pundits aren’t letting the “what ifs” cool about her political future.
One group has a petition to draft Hillary as a 2012 presidential candidate although she has ruled out that possibility. That doesn’t stop them dreaming. They have even drafted her on the Americans Elect Web site as a candidate. So far, she only has 288 supporters.
But let’s just skip this year’s presidential election and jump right to 2016. Pundit and Clinton ally James Carville said Monday in the Washington Examiner that Hillary may be gearing up for a White House bid four years from now.
“I always assume that if people run, they will run again,” Carville said.
Last week, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch says that he has encouraged Hillary to run in 2016.
But the Clintons wisely steered clear of politics on Tuesday.
“Hillary and I are humbled by the Little Rock Airport Commission's decision this morning,” BIll Clinton said in a statement. “We are grateful for this honor and for all that the people of Arkansas have done for us. And we look forward to many happy landings at the airport in the years ahead.”
In Air Force One, perhaps?
Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker