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02 Mar. 2007
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Pols We Have Known

Yesterday I took a brief detour into politics to take the opportunity to remember Harry Browne, Libertarian candidate for president in 1996 and 2000, and currently no longer with us.  I asked what I thought was a rhetorical question: 

I have never seen a president!  Have you?  Is there a small coterie of American citizens who line motorcade routes and attend political events and rallies?  The question seems to have been taken literally by Tom the coterie.

Well, since you ask all of your millireaders and I qualify as some of them.

I've at least seen in person every Republican President to hold office in my lifetime, except the present one. True, I saw Ike before he was elected President in 1952. He came to Oyster Bay, Long Island because his campaign manager was from there and my folks took me to see the motorcade because of his WWII achievements, not because he might be president in a few weeks. I was six: Ike was somewhat older.

Tom continues to explain that he has been both a congressional staffer and a broadcast journalist.  In the latter capacity:

Connie Chung and I were among the reporters gathered around Senator McGovern when he visited the Northport LI VA hospital during the 1972 campaign. Connie was bitchy to her crew and her crew called her the "Dragon Lady." Most people alive today, however, don't remember Terry and the Pirates, so it's a reference that seldom gets a laugh anymore.

In the former capacity he was invited to Carter's inauguration!

I also met Ted Kennedy one year when he was torturing himself over whether to run for President. It was the same year Roger Mudd asked him why he wanted to be President and he didn't have a good answer. I met Al Gore, Sr. (the former Veep's father) who seemed like the stereotype Southern politician (white suit and all) and just missed out on having lunch with Hubert Humphrey when he was VP. And, when Bobby Kennedy was shot, I was invited to be in the honor guard at St. Pat's, but begged off. Didn't own a patent leather holster or Sam Brown belt.

No, I don't know what to make of that, either! 

I suspect I remember a lot of people I've met who do not remember me. Although if you ever met former NY State Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz, he remembered your name. The most remarkable memory for names I ever saw. And I was surprised that Mayor Lindsay's press secretary remembered me the second time we met. The first time was in Riverhead and he had no reason to believe we would ever see each other again but we did at Gracie Mansion.

Heady stuff!  But finally Tom and I have a pol in common.  I actually met Mayor John V. Lindsay, and he called me by name after we were introduced.  The occasion was a radio interview.  Unlike Tom, I was not the interviewer, but rather the guy who carried in the tape recorder (there's that term again) and did the technical stuff.  When we left, he thanked me.  By name!

Tom clearly has me outranked in the politics department.  (I did, however, see the Beatles live in Shea Stadium.)  In the process of writing this, I thought back to my pitiful collection of sightings and came up with this list:

  • In addition to Mayor Lindsay, I've met the mayor of my home town and the town where I work.

  • I met one of our local councilmen at a fire department pancake breakfast.  I guessed right away that he was a "local politician" by the fact that he said "Hello" to me.  He seemed nice, but ultimately was unable to help me get the timing of a particularly nasty traffic light changed.

  • I shook the hand of Paul O'Dwyer, a New York City councilman.  I recall he had terminally bushy eyebrows but the circumstances of the meeting elude me.

  • I met Congressman Robert Torricelli before he was Disgraced Senator Robert Torricelli.

  • I met Congressman Edward Koch before he was Mayor Edward Koch.  (I had to meet him:  I was in Washington D.C. for work, and had a few hours of idle time in which to find out "how a bill becomes law."  They dragged him out of the House to meet me, his constituent, so I could get permission to enter the visitor's gallery without a ticket.  The gallery was nearly empty at the time.  So was the House floor.)

I reserve the right to revise and extend this list in the future.  (A little political joke there!)  I don't anticipate any great revelations; I'm pretty wary.


NP:  "Nothing Ever Happens" - The Blake Babies

2007
Richard Factor

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