Cross-posted at The Kitchen Drawer.
Over at Althouse they’re discussing Thursday’s Presidential visit to the University of Wisconsin’s Madison campus. They’re shutting down the campus for at least part of the day so the President can have a nice photo-op post-debate. The Thursday timing is brilliant. Most students will have classes on Friday so they’ll stick around. If the event were on a Friday many students (and probably some professors and staff) would just take off after class on Thursday and make a nice, unexpected three day weekend of it.
They’re discussing many aspects of this visit, including whether or not the students should be upset by this intrusion. After all, this is a denial of one day’s paid education. Personally I think they should be upset, but who are we kidding – most of them won’t be because they won’t be thinking of the payments they’re making (or will make) for their education.
One commenter speculated that the lost tuition was worth it for the chance to see the President in person on one’s own campus. Maybe, but I’ll hold to the idea (expressed by others) that we shouldn’t worship our pols.
Nevertheless, this led me to reminisce about the times I’ve been in the presence of a sitting US President.
I’ve seen three Presidents in person. I saw Ronald Reagan at EPCOT for his 1984 Inaugural Parade. (The one in DC was cancelled due to weather, so a few months later they did it down here in Florida.) I got to see him from less than 30 feet away as he drove by in a Presidential limo.
I saw George H. W. Bush twice. Once in the White House from about 10 feet away (pure luck, the family was taking a tour and he unexpectedly showed up with some ambassador from some African nation) and once at Daytona International Speedway during the race in July. I may have even been within 1000 feet at that time!
(Funny/strange story from that one. Our tickets were for the stands right behind the pit road in the infield. Awesome seats! So as we approached the tunnel for the infield in a Ford Explorer we were questioned by the Secret Service. “Do you have any firearms in your vehicle?” “No, sir.” “No bazookas or anything like that?” “No, sir!” “Carry on.” That was it! Like we would have answered “Yes” if we were bringing in a bazooka! And who the Hell was talking about bazookas in 1992?! Very strange incident, but I guess the guy sized us up with a 14 and 10 year-old in the car as well as people up in their 60s and assessed us as “NOT terrorists”.)
And I once saw George W. Bush at a campaign rally. I still can’t believe I went to one of those things.
All in all it was kind of neat, but not awe inspiring. They are, after all, just men.
Now my sister, when she was little, once got to sit in JFK’s chair behind his desk in the Oval Office. That happened through a series of happy accidents, and if anything like that were to happen today it would be a major security breech complete with drone strikes on the houses of everyone in the family.
Mom and Dad lived in DC back in the early 1950s. Dad was out taking a morning walk one morning and bumped into someone on the street. Dad said something along the lines of “Hey, watch it buddy!”, took a few steps and stopped. He turned around and there stood President Truman (who was found of walks), hands on hips, just glaring at Dad! Dad muttered apologies and scrammed!
I’ve also wondered about the time Nixon wandered out of the White House one night to visit some protesters over at the Lincoln Memorial. How strange that must have been for the protesters!