February 28, 2007

Running into Politics

Hey wait can I borrow your cape
The leader is nowhere to be found,
And if you wake up his fans
You will not hear a sound.

Bobby Bare, Jr.
Borrow Your Cape

Steny Hoyer

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer

Guess who I ran into yesterday —literally? Steny Hoyer, Democratic Majority Leader of the House. Well, he actually ran into me. He was walking down 9th Street just as I was on my way back to my office after lunch. Synchronously, a nice bio article had just appeared that morning on Hoyer in the Washington Post. I had been moved by the piece’s portrayal of his life and slow rise to power. Perseverance is a quality I respect.

As I was listening to Bobby Bare’s “Borrow Your Cape” (iTunes link) on my iPod I spied him coming down the street. Taller than I thought, he was, of course accompanied by his two Secret Service handlers.

My Hollywood upbringing has taught me to pretend I don’t know celebrities on these chance encounters. But that wasn’t the case with the woman walking in front of me. She, too, recognized the Congressman and when she said his name out loud, he stopped to shake her hand in the most natural of political postures. As he turned around to continue his walk, he walked right into me.

This was not the first time this has happened. I’ve been hit by the best and worst of them. In 1990, as an Arts Administration Fellow at the National Endowment for the Arts, I sat in on Congressional hearings on NEA contributions to the Right Wing’s notion of degenerate artists. One morning, as the hearing came to an end, Ted Kennedy bent over to pick up something he had dropped on the hearing floor. When he returned to eye level he knocked right into me.

And, of course, how could I forget my most chance political encounter with then Attorney General John Ashcroft on Pennsylvania Avenue?

Everyone should bump into their politicians now and then. It brings them down to size and makes them real.

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A long time ago there was an interview with a 100 year old who was asked the secret of his longevity. He attributed to the fact that he had never touched a politician.

Posted by: ralph on February 28, 2007 9:10 PM

A few months back I had a literal run-in with James Carville outside The Palm on 19th St. It was totally my fault and he was nice about it.

I would not have recognized Stenny Hoyer.

Posted by: Lila on February 28, 2007 10:39 PM

I saved a bar seat for David Mercer this last week in Georgetown without actually knowing who he was…then I proceeded to shoot the breeze with him and make him laugh. It wasn’t until he gave me his business card and asked me to email him sometime that I actually put two and two together.

Posted by: Katharine on March 1, 2007 8:06 AM

I’m surprised the Secret Service agents didn’t tackle you first and step on your head while they secured the parameter.

Posted by: Greg on March 1, 2007 8:48 AM

Lila, I don’t think I would have recognized him either if I hadn’t first seen the earplug and curly wire coming out of his Secret Service agent’s ear. Also, the Congressman’s pic was just in the paper that morning.

Posted by: Jeff on March 1, 2007 8:48 AM

Katharine, do you mean this David Mercer?

Greg, he ran into ME (and politely apologized, as did Ted Kennedy).

Posted by: Jeff on March 1, 2007 8:53 AM

Comments are now closed for this post. But there are a few other entries which might provoke an opinion or two.

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