Some time in the next couple of days, former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, herself perhaps soon to be a candidate for president, will arrive in Amagansett for an August vacation. Their visit is interesting to think about from where I sit in a second-floor office that has a bit of a view of East Hampton’s Main Street.
We spend so much time here complaining about traffic or prices or whatever that we sometimes forget about the outside world. The Clintons’ visit is a reminder that there are concerns beyond what some developer or other wants to do to a favorite vista or why we couldn’t get a table at a favorite restaurant.
If I were able to get the Clintons’ attention, I’d like to know how they plan to spend their week here and why they choose the South Fork for their getaways. But I would also like to know whether they have any promising ideas about how to improve the economic future of those with low or middle incomes. The rich are doing just fine. But can the Clintons, from the comfort of Further Lane, as we’ve heard, empathize with people who have not seen a meaningful wage increase in a decade?
I’d like to know about climate change and whether, as they gaze out at the ocean, they realize that thanks to related sea-level rise, the view is one of the frontlines of the crisis. Will they be prompted to think about how to get Washington past its partisan battles to make a difference?
Do they know that some South Fork schools are half Latino? Will they reflect on this new American reality, in which traditional educational approaches can find it difficult and prohibitively costly to properly teach all the country’s children?
August seduces us to just dig our toes into the sand and forget about all the rest. And yet we — and they — cannot escape the fact that we live in a complicated and troubled world. If I had a few minutes with a former president and a woman who may be the next, I’d like to ask them about some of things on my mind.