“Why would Jeb think that having his brother campaign in South Carolina would help him win?” I asked Mr. Wonderful the other morning while munching on a breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios and bananas.
Understand, my W and I are political junkies. We are glued to every debate, press conference and town hall meeting. We religiously read Politico on our iPads. On Sunday mornings, we tape “Meet the Press” so we can watch it after viewing “Face the Nation.”
We also sit in opposite chambers. I voted for McGovern, he’s a Reaganite. Over the past four presidential elections, we’ve managed not to throttle each other. And so far in the 2016 race, we remain unscarred.
“The former president’s presence in South Carolina could sway some voters,“ Mr. Wonderful said. "Just like he managed to dazzle YOU a few years ago.”
Some history: we live at Kennebunk Beach, a few miles from Walker Point, the spectacular ocean-front Bush compound in Kennebunkport. We are not personal friends of George and Bar (as the locals call them), but we’ve been with them at summer parties. One eclipsed all others.
On a balmy night in late August several years ago, we strolled up the wooden boardwalk to the boathouse of the Kennebunk River Club, a century-old boating and tennis club. I noticed more than a few Secret Service guys in aviator shades lurking around sporting earphones and binoculars. “Hmmm, some big names could be here tonight,” I thought.
After greeting our hosts, I went to the table with a chart indicating seating arrangements. I leaned in, aware that someone was right next to me doing the same thing, glanced over, didn’t recognize him, then did, and realized OH MY GOD IT’S GEORGE W. He smiled at me, I smiled at him, the man I’d not voted for in two elections, and then raced off to join my husband at the bar.
“Guess who I was just standing next to,” I whispered, when suddenly That Same Person joined us. “Lovely night, isn’t it,” President George W. Bush asked us.
Over the next while, we ordered drinks and engaged in small talk, lovely party, yadda yadda. Then I asked, “How is life at the ranch in Crawford?” He beamed and said, “Perfect — just what Laura and I needed after those years in Washington.”
“Do you miss the presidency at all?” I asked. “Nope!” he said. “And I have nothing but admiration for the guy in there right now who’s making the tough decisions. You see, there are no easy ones and the job is 24/7 365 days a year. Mind you, I wanted it, but I’m mighty glad it’s all behind me.” He was utterly devastatingly charming.
And suddenly, the daughter of a Democratic politician who’d never voted Republican in her life, whose father had managed the campaigns of two New Jersey governors and was key to the election of John F. Kennedy, who still wears her Obama HOPE tee shirt with pride, couldn’t help herself.
“You really did a great job,”I gushed. “Just great.” And then I gave him a hug. OH MY GOD. What have I done?
I’m probably a throwback to the days when most people respected a President of the United States, regardless of party affiliation — when there was dissent without savage catcalls and vicious name-calling or threatened lawsuits, like what’s happening these days. And guess what? I’m proud of that.