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Record numbers attend Union Forum luncheon with Clarence Page

Clarence Page talks with Union students Heather Hagood (left) and Jill Martin during his March 8 visit to the Union campus. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)
Clarence Page talks with Union students Heather Hagood (left) and Jill Martin during his March 8 visit to the Union campus. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)

JACKSON, Tenn.March 8, 2005 – Borrowing from Martin Luther King Jr., Clarence Page said despite growing polarization in politics, Americans must continue to be dissatisfied with anything short of a unified nation.

“I think if he was around today, he’d probably say we must be dissatisfied until there is no blue state America and no red state America,” Page said. “There’s one America, and one world, under God’s eyes.”

Page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning political commentator and nationally syndicated columnist, visited Union University March 8 as part of the annual Union Forum. In addition to meeting with students and answering their questions, Page also spoke at a luncheon attended by 335 people.

That total was a record attendance for a Union Forum event.

“I appreciated hearing from someone who is active in our culture who engages in things like politics and journalism,” said Union senior Jill Martin, who is the managing editor of Union’s student newspaper, the Cardinal & Cream. “I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with him personally. He took the time to talk to me about my interest in journalism and my career. He was a very good speaker, very engaging, and he helped answer questions that were relevant to our students and people in our community.”

Union president David S. Dockery said the university was privileged to hear from someone of Page’s stature.

“He has distinguished himself as a key player in the circles of Washington D.C. journalism,” Dockery said. “His observations were insightful, and his warm personality showed through during his entire visit. We thank him for taking the time to be with us and to share his experiences, and we also thank our sponsors for helping to make this event happen.”

During his meeting with students, Page talked about how he got interested in journalism as a teenager and discussed some of his early successes and failures in the field. He said his role as a columnist now is good for people with attention deficit disorder, because he can dive into a topic then forget about it when his column is finished.

In his luncheon address, “Future Directed: A Look at America after the 2004 Presidential Election,” Page commented on several key issues in American politics:

-- Federal funding for faith-based organizations. Page said he supports the idea if funds are being used for organizations that have a proven track record of success

“I don’t care about what’s right or what’s left, what’s liberal or what’s conservative,” he said. “I care about what works.”

-- The future of the Democratic party. Page said following defeat in the 2004 presidential election, the Democrats must reinvent themselves and find a way to connect to more voters. If the Democratic convention were held today, Page said Hillary Clinton would most likely be the party’s presidential nominee.

“Hillary Clinton has not only the momentum, the money is coming in and she has the name recognition,” he said.

-- Supreme Court nominees. Page said President Bush will face a “battle royal” in Congress if he appoints judges with a long, conservative record to the Supreme Court. He thinks many Senators allowed some of the president’s early nominees through without much of a fight because they’re saving up for a confrontation over the Supreme Court.

But, Page suggested it’s anybody’s guess who Bush would appoint.

“The president has been like the Supreme Court itself – impossible to predict,” he said.

He also touched on his passion for journalism, and why he loves what he does.

“It is watching history in the making,” he said.

The next Union Forum will take place April 4, when Fox News analyst and Roll Call editor Morton Kondracke will speak at Union.

Tickets are $20 each or $100 for a table of six. Online registration is available at www.uu.edu/events/unionforum/2005.

Sponsors for the 2005 Union Forum are the First Tennessee Foundation, TLM Associates, West Tennessee Healthcare and The Jackson Sun.

For more information, contact Union’s Office of University Relations at (731) 661-5050.

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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