Monday, August 30, 2004

Larger than life 

Today I had the good fortune to meet President William Jefferson Clinton. Actually it wasn't good fortune -- just the willingness to get up early on a day off and stand in line with a bunch of friendly strangers. He was in town for a Senate fundraiser and decided to hold another book signing even though his tour was done a few weeks ago. My dad and I headed down to the Barnes & Noble at 6 a.m. We waited two hours before getting our wristbands, guaranteeing us a place in the line. Then we went home and returned around 1:15 for the 2 p.m. signing.


At 4 we were at the front of the line. Bill was standing casually behind a table, shaking hands and signing away and chatting with each person as they came by. Despite my intention to say something profound, virtually nothing came out when I found myself eye to eye with him and shaking his hand. I think I just managed a "Thanks, Mr. President" in response to his greeting. I think he said, "Hope you enjoy the book," but he could have said, "I have three monkeys that are made of cheese" and I would not have known the difference.

It was a great day, despite the bad case of mall legs I had from standing around for hours. It was incredibly reassuring to see this larger than life figure in person, looking strong and as in command as ever. It brought home the fact that his single-minded enemies failed to defeat him, and that he's come out on top -- damaged legacy or not. He looked great physically -- and politically, George W. Bush has made him look better and better every day (if that's possible). In that vein, my planned comment had been, "You're still my President, sir." But it seemed cheesy and insignificant in the end. The tone was much more casual, plus I froze up. But from what I saw of the rest of the crowd, I don't think I was alone in that regard, and I'm truly glad to have simply seen him in person and shaken his hand.

Oh yeah, there was one other thing I heard him say. The couple in front of me brought their young son, who was wearing two buttons -- one for Kerry and the other for Barack Obama. The President saw the boy's button and said, in a classic Clinton voice (insert your own impression here), "I just saw Obama the other day! Impressive guy."

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