19.5.10

Clinton, the Poet and Obama’s Aunt

Bill Clinton isn’t exactly up for auction, but let's stop to think about this business of you-do-me-I-do-you. You've already read that you could spend a day with him in New York if you can dig into your financial reserves and come up with $7,71,000. This is due to the huge debt of $25.2 million that Hillary ran up for her fight with Barack Obama for the Democratic ticket.

It is his idea and some have hailed him as a loyal husband, which is precious. Some have said it lowers the office; others have said he is now not in office. Honestly, it would be better if they had put up their pet poodle for auction. Or had a garage sale of memorabilia.

It is true that wives stand alongside their partners during elections and it is perfectly nice that Bill did so too. But, it is rather shameful that this sort of expenditure was incurred all for power. The underlying theme is the honourable one of clearing debts and all this is for the reputation of America. However, is the situation very different from the Australian woman who put up her poet husband for auction last month?

Will the person who manages to shell out the money for him become a patron?

I ask this because the Ozzie woman, Sonya Semmens, who put in an ad on eBay stating that her struggling poet husband is “up for sale” believes that anyone who buys him for $25,000 will get one year’s patronage, a book of poetry dedicated to him/her, a complete catalogue of the works and acknowledgment during performances.

The product description goes like this:

"Cameron Semmens, Ivanhoe performance poet who has dedicated his life to the wit and wisdom of well-crafted words, and brought meaningful entertainment and thoughtful inspiration to thousands of Australians for more than 20 years.”


The seller-wife says he would make for a good investment and believes, "Without patronage there would have been no Beethoven, no Michelangelo, no Shakespeare.”

Is this about intellectual patronage? She did it after the birth of their son and the guy obviously is not making enough with his poetry performances. I don’t think he is terribly enthused for he quoted Robert Graves, “There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money either.”

Ah, but there’s food on the table, clothes on the body, a roof over the head and you can write poetry about all of these.

However, such patronage is not of any sublime nature. There is barter. And that existed even on the early days when royalty and clergy both got writers and artists to paint and pen paeans to themselves, their positions or the kingdom/church they represented. The only difference is that there was long-term dedication. Here it is about how fast you can make the buck and how fast you can bid and get the satisfaction of either rubbing shoulders with a powerful person for a day or sponsoring him for a year.

These are seen as clean transactions, in that they are upfront.

What happens to Barack Obama’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango? She has lived in the US and when her permit ended she stayed on for two years illegally. She was to be deported to Kenya, but has been permitted to stay.

According to reports, she will get a work permit, social security card and driver’s license. In a year she can apply for permanent residency, or a green card, and in five years seek US citizenship.

It has wrongly been said that has been granted asylum. Asylum-seekers have to report some sort of pressure and danger to their lives and work. She now says she will be harassed if she returns, mainly because she is the President’s aunt. This is conjecture and there have been no reports of threats. Therefore, can we assume that the President’s aunt is being patronised by the President himself or is it the United States of America?

Is there a quid pro quo involved here?

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