Music and Politics Meet at the White House

Christopher Sabec Grateful Dead PoliticsWhile still at Law School, Christopher received a message from one of his former tutoring students who worked at the White House, Dylan Glen. The message stated to call the White House, as George Bush Sr. needed to get in contact with the Grateful Dead. Christopher hadn’t had the slightest idea of how he’d do this, but since it came from the White House, he made it a priority. George Bush Sr. wanted to invite the Dead over to the White House to discuss environmental issues that their fans faced along with a potential public service announcement of the issue of their choice.

Apparently it was fairly easy to get in contact with the Grateful Dead when you tell them that the White House wants to speak with them. Christopher then went on to set up a meeting with the Grateful Dead and the President of the United States, George Bush Sr. The Dead eventually met with the President and his board of environmental advisors to discuss the issues that were of concern to the band and their loyal followers. The band was impressed by the administrations willingness do promote a pro-environment campaign. There were multiple other meetings after this, and significant amendments to the administration’s environmental policy were made.

Christopher was the catalyst to these environmental policy changes, including changes to the Endangered Species Act and logging policies. After the first meeting, the Grateful Dead’s confidant, John Barlow, showed his appreciation for Christopher and asked if he’d like to hang out with the Dead and join them at their concert that night. Christopher stayed friendly with the band ever since.

Christopher Sabec’s Passion for Music

Christopher Sabec RightscorpBy senior year at Georgetown, Christopher Sabec had risen through the Student Judiciary to become Director. The Director served as the final arbiter of disciplinary decisions for the University Administration. The Director’s power to veto administrative decisions was a holdover from the student protests during the Vietnam War. It was one of the demands granted to the students during the May Day demonstrations of 1972. The position was for the most part low-key and off the radar throughout his four years at Georgetown, but in his last semester he became embroiled in a controversy between the student body and the administration. A series of protests over Georgetown’s investments in South Africa had led to the construction of a shantytown on the front lawn of the school, occupied by approximately 120 student squatters. After a week of requests for the students to vacate the area went unheeded, the University ordered the students arrested for trespassing and suspended each of them for a semester. As Director of the Student Judiciary, all the suspensions came before Christopher for review and possible reversal. The pressure from the opposing sides was intense, with the administration being particularly irritated when they realized that Christopher was weighing his opinions rather than rubber-stamping their decision. In the end, Christopher reversed all but two of the suspensions to the cheers of the students and the chagrin of the administration. The victory was bittersweet, however, as the incident was painted as revealing a flaw in the structure of the Student Judiciary and it was reorganized to eliminate the veto power over disciplinary decisions the following year.

Throughout Christopher’s experience at Georgetown, music continued to be an integral part of his personal life. He discovered folk-influenced music of the late 60s and early 70s, listening to Bob Dylan, CSN, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and other singer/songwriters. As for concerts, Christopher kept expanding his life experiences. Between 1984 and 1987 he saw Talking Heads, Roger Waters, Eric Clapton, Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, James Taylor, Stephen Stills, and CSN among others.

One of the ways Christopher’s interest in music began to manifest itself into his academic and professional life was a growing fascination with the political and student activism during the late 60s. Due in part to the people he met while working for Senator Hart, as well as the growing opposition at Georgetown to the US involvement in Central America at the time, Christopher was drawn to that period in his political studies. He enjoyed trying to place the music he was listening to into its historical context.