Sunday, December 23, 2007

Stalking the Clintons

Blizzard, lingering flu, and winding, unplowed New Hampshire roads: nothing kept us from making a seven-hour drive to Plymouth in order to see Bill Clinton in the pink, ex-presidential flesh. Crashing the New Hampshire pre-primary circus is a tradition of Todd's; in 2004 I was also sucked in, and this year two intrepid friends of ours managed to join us, wedging themselves into the very small back seat Todd's volkswagen (the back seat normally functions as trash can, to give you some sense of why, at the very least, we should call these friends intrepid).

At the entrance to the Bill event, I successfully lied to a secret service agent who, after a cursory paw though my bag, asked me if I was carrying anything sharp. No, nothing sharp.

Just the number five circular Addi needle I'm using to knit this basket-weave qiviut scarf. This is not the most fun knit in my rotation - it's laceweight and I have enough laceweight projects in my life right now because I'm still trying to finish what I started with the whole bridesmaid lace stole project, about which I can only say arrrrrrggggghhhhh. On the plus side, qiviut, aka muskox, is a fascinating fiber: freakishly lightweight, very soft, and extremely warm.

Also fascinating and extremely warm, though not at all lightweight or soft: Bill. On the road for Hillary, the ex-President gave a rousing and lengthy speech extolling the virtues of the lady Senator from New York. We did learn a few things about Hillary, though mostly I learned that all the well-worn observations about Bill are true: he's a great public speaker; he seems totally sincere; he's very smart; he cares about you. I whorishly pressed through the crowd after the speech in order to shake his hand, and in the process of moving to the front of the pack, as I watched him converse with all manner of 80th generation crank from New Hampshire, I could see that he had the rarest and most powerful type of charisma: the kind that comes from appearing to be completely in the moment and completely interested in what is being said. It is not about Bill at all, and this egoless engagement, purely enacted, is ridiculously attractive and powerful.

Hillary (with her daughter and mother in tow) did an event the following evening. Our senator impressed me, and the crowd seemed impressed, too. I did not make an effort to shake her hand, though in retrospect it might have been a good time to ask her why the voice mailbox at her office is always full whenever I call to protest whatever MoveOn tells me to.

Between Bill and Hillary, we stopped by an event for Republican candidate Ron Paul. This is a man who believes that all America's problems can be solved if we start using gold coins for our currency and cease government regulation of everything except women's uteruses. Is anyone surprised this man is from Texas?

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