The President I Almost Met: W Bush
Some people really do ask, "When you're in Washington, do you get to meet the President?" and the answer is, of course, "Not exactly. At least not without convincing a lot of other people that the President should meet you instead of a lot of other people who want to meet the President."
I never saw Ronald Reagan in person at all.
I did see George H.W. Bush and his wife parading through the city on the eve of their inauguration. I was even sort of nudged to the front of the cheering crowd (who were sincerely cheering, because (1) we'd been told our families back home might see us on TV, and (2) the end of the parade was in sight and now we could get out of the wind and catch our trains and go home). And why was this the one and only public event at which no taller person stood in front of me? Because my coat happened to be the girl's version of the coat President Bush was wearing. These events are so real.
I did some serious research on Bill Clinton, and some people at the White House thought I might be one of the people he'd appreciate meeting, but I didn't think so. Especially because one of his guards said "He won't care what you write about him unless it's printed on a T-shirt." I believe that was true, too.
I've not even been in Washington since President Obama's been there.
But I was seriously asked, by some campaign staff who probably hadn't done much research on our town, about co-hosting a campaign party for George W. Bush. At the time I was working for George Peters, who seemed to agree with W Bush about a number of issues and was in fact willing to back him as a candidate. I could see Mr. Peters appreciating a chance to talk to Mr. Bush. I was less sure about Mr. Bush's interest in meeting Mr. Peters, who was blind, due to cataracts, and had deliberately sought out the darkest, dreariest flat in a senior housing project. Most of Mr. Peters' lifelong friends tried to avoid visiting him there. My home town does have some suitable places for a modest little campaign party--not the kind of event Mr. Peters would have enjoyed.
I had some more serious reservations about W Bush, though, and because his brother seems to be contemplating a presidential campaign, I think U.S. readers and writers need to think about those now.
What I said to George Peters, and what we eventually replied to the campaign staff, was (more or less these words): "George H.W. Bush went to war with Iraq. Arab-type people died in that war. Many Arab-type people believe that revenge is a duty. If the United States wants to avoid war, the United States should not elect another President Bush."
Well...not everyone saw it that way. And a lot of people were tired of the Clinton Administration. And some voting machines apparently malfunctioned. (I don't know why anybody trusts any voting machine in any election anyway. I think elections should require paper ballots, which should be inspected by the voter, folded, and placed in baskets for hand counting.)
So we had another President Bush, and we had another war, and a lot more Arab-type people died. Maybe most of them deserved it...but how many more departed Arab-type people left behind more relatives who believe that revenge is a duty?
This is why, although I know little else about Jeb Bush and have nothing else against him, I sincerely hope he won't be considered as a presidential candidate in the next election.