Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bill and Me, Part One

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a friend of mine who has deep ties to the Kentucky Democratic party.

“Do you want to meet Bill Clinton?” she said.


“Now. At Hillary’s campaign headquarters.”

Two days earlier Chelsea Clinton came to town to open a campaign HQ for her mother in a, ah, less than ritzy part of town.

As part of my job I have to be reasonably well informed about events in and around this area, so I expressed surprise that Bill would be able – or even want – to slip into town unheralded.

“It’s very low-key,” my friend said.

“So where did you hear about it?”

She named her source, a well-known political wife in Kentucky who also happens to be a former Miss America.

Since Hillary’s HQ was about six minutes away I told her I’d be there. After all, it was a chance, albeit slim, to meet a former president.

(Digression: my point in telling you this story is not to influence your vote, but to simply entertain. I would be happy for the chance to meet any president, past or present. And so would you. So shut up.

Having said that, before you vote in November look around at the state of the nation. If you’re happy with the way things are going, you know who to vote for.

By the way, if you honestly think things are going well you probably need a check-up from the neck my opinion, of course.)

My coworker Jim was in the office, so I asked him if he wanted to go meet Bill Clinton. He did, and we headed for the big event.

As we pulled onto the parking lot of the Hillary Headquarters – strategically located next to a Dollar General store for your shopping convenience – Jim noted the lack of any security or police presence.

There were maybe a dozen people standing in front of the building, including my friend and three really, really old guys.

As soon as we got out of the car we were approached by a young man in a suit who acted like he had just power-chugged a dozen Red Bulls.

He shook my hand and said, “If the media talks to you, stick to the talking points.”

Wow, I thought, the media might be talking to me. Excited beyond words, I decided not to tell him that Jim and I were the media.

“Okay, I said.

“Do you have the talking points?” he said.


He sighed. “Hang on.”

He ducked into headquarters, returning in a minute with a couple of Hillary For President posters and some stapled papers. He passed the campaign materials to us, then disappeared in a blur, like The Flash.

So we stood there for a few minutes, Hillary posters at our sides, while we waited for Bill. Eventually I glanced at the talking points and discovered that today’s event was the kickoff to a statewide salute to veterans.

About that time Speedy returned.

“We’re gonna take a picture,” he said, “so I need you and the other veterans to come over here and wave your Hillary signs.”

Other veterans?

Jim and I looked at each other, then at the three really, really old men who were looking back at us.

I have nothing but the highest respect for our nation's veterans. I didn't want to impersonate one.

“Excuse me,” I said. “Is Bill coming?”

“Bill?” Speedy scrunched up his face in a way that made it clear that I was interfering with his carefully prepared plans. “Bill’s not going to be here. Where did you hear that?”

“Oh, it was just a rumor.” I turned to Jim. “Bill’s not coming.”

Jim pondered this nugget of information for maybe 1/50th of a second. “I’m ready to go. You ready?”

“I’m ready.”

We beat feet to the car. As I climbed in, Speedy shot me a nasty glance. Understandable, since two-fifths of his complement of veterans just walked away.

As we pulled out of the lot, I waved my Hillary sign in solidarity.

That poster is now hanging in my mother’s window.

Next time: How I finally talked to Bill.


Ron Fortier said...

Sorry you didn't get to meet Bill.
And even though we are on different sides in regards to politics, I do
agree completely that the country
is in a bad way. Having said that, I certainly don't want to see it get worse, which will happen with your
"remedy." My guy has a proven record of finding the middle-ground between both sides.

Mark Justice said...

Hi Ron.

It's good to know that people can be friends and *not* have to agree on everything. Probably half of my friends are my polar opposite politically, and we have a good time "discussing" the candidates and the issues.

As far as my remedy, I haven't picked one yet.

I would have considered voting for the John McCain who, in 2000, called Jerry Falwell an agent of intolerance. Or the McCain who openly and passionately criticized Bush's policies. But I don't know the McCain who sucked up to Falwell and now embraces much of the President's failed initiatives (i.e. fixing the economy by giving tax breaks to the wealthy...I consider myself pretty well-informed, and I don't think that's worked out).

Maybe McCain decided that speaking his mind wasn't going to get him elected, so he's become Bush Lite.

So, yeah, I'll probably give the Obama-Clinton ticket a try. I feel like it's better than settling for more of the same. And, as my father-in-law used to say, "This country can survive anybody for for years."

The last eight have proven him right.

Joe Blow said...

I would rather read "How I shot Bill Clinton".
Bush lite? Cliche, but WTF is wrong with McCain? sigh there will be no winners in November.

Ron Fortier said...

I hear you Mark. I guess the thing I'm attracted to McCain for, and I think you'll appreciate this logic,
is that he really isn't the choice of die-hard Republicans like Rush Limbaugh and the other radicals in the party. Whereas I see both Obama and Clinton as stellar examples of their polarity. Can we ever get back to the middle? I don't know. But part of me honestly believes McCain is closer to it than the other two.
Either way, America will survive.
It's, as an entity of freedom, is stronger than any one party. And thank God for that.