George and Me

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Bush turned to me and said, “C’mon, let’s put our arms around each other to show everyone we’re friends.”

You may not remember this. Leonard Zelig was the kind of ordinary everyday man who  you’d expect to live an ordinary everyday life. Somehow, though, he managed to find himself regularly appearing with extraordinary celebrated people during extraordinary celebrated events. Leonard Zelig isn’t a real person. Never was. Yet Woody Allen’s brilliant 1983 mockumentary Zelig left theater-goers thinking he was.

It seems like we all have our Leonard Zelig moments. We live each ordinary day in an ordinary way. Then, fate brings us face-to-face with extraordinary people in extraordinary times. Think about the times you’ve found yourself at the same shop with a movie or TV star – someone who seems so distant because our only connection to them is through some unapproachable media context. When we’re young, that can be a very exciting thing. As we age, we come to understand those distant stars are no different than us.

Like you, I’ve had my fair share of close encounters. Like the time I rode the train seated across from Pearl Bailey. (Don’t remember her? Read “My Lunch with Pearl Bailey,” Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, September 13, 1990, to find out more about the incident and the subject.) I always tried my best to be polite and respect the person as a person. (Except in the case of John Dean, who, while having dinner with him, I bluntly said, “You Continue Reading “George and Me”

Here’s What I Learned When I was a Professional Political Pollster

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agreement-survey-scale-1-1236335-660x395Imagine being a physics and astronomy major at a school interested in politics and government where the most popular major is political science and economics. It’s tough. You can’t engage in discussions, you can only listen. You know nothing, unless the conversation turns towards nuclear energy policy (which it almost never does) or space exploration (which it doesn’t ever).

That was me heading into the 1980 presidential primary season. I was nothing more than a naïve cheerleader. I wanted to be more, but what? In an ocean of future neo-cons, think tank thinkers, and government policy makers, I was merely a small deserted isle that didn’t even merit a place on the map. I tried and tried to think of a way I could add value, to discover something in one of the classes I took that would generate at least interest, if not respect, among my more politically knowledgeable classmates. About the only unique differentiator I offered was that I had lived in Jack Kemp’s congressional district, but that was just a novelty of coincidence.

Then it struck me. While all these talking heads spent their class time debating the merits Continue Reading “Here’s What I Learned When I was a Professional Political Pollster”