The Governor held an obesity summit at The California Endowment, which featured Bill Clinton as a speaker. Despite my numerous blog entries on food, he neglected to invite me. But as luck would have it, I was scheduled to speak to a group of nurses the same morning, also at The California Endowment, and my conference room overlooked the courtyard that Clinton had to walk through to get to his meeting.
There was considerable excitement about this potential star sighting. And it was all for Bill Clinton. The governor was there too, but no one really cared about him. And our governor is only ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, major superstar. He only got passing interest, as in, “oh yeah, and did you see Arnold walk in?”
This was not a group of lefty politicos I was with. This was a diverse group of nurses, from varying ethnic backgrounds. But they all had Bill-mania. I don’t think it was just because he’s famous because as I said, they weren’t interested in Schwarzenegger or Maria Shriver. I can’t imagine that they were all committed Democrats either. I think it’s because Bill Clinton projects an empathy that people can relate to. Either that, or they thought he was hot. (yes, I did overhear that.)
When Clinton crossed that courtyard to get to his meeting, everyone in my meeting rushed to the window and waved. Clinton waved back! Yes, this man is a master politician, but boy, he’s good. It was hard to get my audience back after that but I managed to get through the rest of the presentation.
Clinton’s meeting ended when my meeting was on lunch break and as soon as we saw the first people filtering out of that meeting, we went outside to get a good look. We waited and waited, the Secret Service scanning us the whole time. Finally, the man came out. My group of nurses started yelling and waving, and Clinton started walking straight toward us.
Now let me pause and say that I am well aware that working the rope line is a basic element of politics and it doesn’t mean Clinton actually cares about us if he walks over to shake our hands. But it was exciting nonetheless. He worked the line, and several of the nurses gave him a hug instead of a handshake, which he readily accepted. I didn’t want to seem like a sycophant, but hey, how many opportunities will I have to shake hands with a president? So I stuck my hand out and was a recipient of the hand over hand work-the-rope-line handshake. And guess what? Knowing that it’s standard politics doesn’t make it any less thrilling.
Clinton left, I went back to my business. I shook hands with a president!