So, I read in the Independent this morning that Bill Clinton is a vegan now. I think he won an award from PETA for it. I couldn’t believe it. I remember in 96 when David Letterman said in a monologue (and I’m paraphrasing) âToday Bob Dole challenged Bill Clinton to three debates. Clinton instead challenged Dole to a pie eating contest.â Â Now, he’s a vegan?
I shook Bill Clinton’s hand once.
It was in 93 or 94 at Hickam Air Field while President Clinton was taking a vacation in Hawaii. Air Force One was on an air strip about a mile away from where we lived. When word came that he was flying out, I went to see what was going on. There was a huge crowd at the airstrip already when I arrived and the Secret Service had corralled everyone into a little fenced off area. Â One agent (I assume that’s what he was) told us that the president probably would just get straight on the plane from his car and not greet the crowd. However, Clinton is very good about pleasing voters and, when the motorcade showed up, he did approach the rope line and shook everyone’s hand and talk to the people for about 20 minutes before boarding the plane. Hillary did too. I was eager to see him in person. Â He was the President of the United States and had been my Commander in Chief for two of my four years in the Army.
When he got close to where I was standing in the rope-line, I could hear what he was saying to everyone else as he shook hands. It was polite stuff â âHi, where you from? That’s great, that’s great.â It was hard not to like him. He’s a very likeable guy. He shook my hand and looked me in the eye and said hello. It was pretty cool. The entire time, a Secret Service agent stood behind him whispering stuff in his ear like âTheres a curb right behind you, watch your step.â
It was a nice experience, but I hated seeing how everyone in the crowd gushed and how he put on that politician smile and he spoke to everyone. Â He wasn’t royalty, after all.
I’ve never been a Bill Clinton fan. After moving to England in 98, I found out how popular he was overseas. So many people over here absolutely loved him in England. I came out here just before the impeachment, so there was a lot of discussions about how up-tight Americans are to impeach him for something so personal. I explained that he was being impeached for perjury, but you can’t disuade fans that easily.
Clinton did a lot of good, don’t get me wrong. In retrospect, he wasn’t all that bad. George W. Bush made him look like a genius. But, like all former presidents, he looks a lot better giving a 5-minute speech at a party convention than he did giving a press conference as president.
What really bothered me most about him was the phoniness. I hated when he told voters at a town hall meeting âI feel your pain.â I hated it when he bit his lip and got all misty-eyed during the national anthem. Â He never seemed genuine to me, and he still doesn’t.
When I think about Clinton, I think about the phoniness and the career politician. I find Obama to much more authentic and genuinely believe he is doing his best. When I hear pundits say that he can learn from Clinton the politician, I cringe.
But he’s a vegan now, and it’s big news. I wonder if it wasn’t big news, if he would have bothered at all.