This past weekend, President Bush and I were the two main speakers -- I on Friday, he on Saturday -- in Philadelphia at the annual meeting of Republican senators and congressmen sponsored by the Congressional Institute. I relate my own participation for two reasons.
One reason is, quite simply, my desire to relate a personal milestone. After a lifetime of working out ideas on the uniqueness of America, having the opportunity to offer these ideas to what was essentially a joint session of the Republican Congress (including the speaker of the House, House and Senate majority leaders, 33 senators, and about a hundred congressmen) was satisfying in the deepest possible ways. (My speech is available at my Web site www.dennisprager.com).
But that is not the primary reason for relating my role at this conference. Rather, it is to provide the context for explaining how I felt having a little over a minute with President Bush and hearing him speak in person for the next hour.
Again, personal context is essential. When God gave out the normal human desire to meet celebrities and stars, I was in another line. Even as a young person I had no particular desire to meet famous ballplayers and get autographs from them or from any other famous persons. I have lived in Los Angeles for 28 years, am regularly on television, made three videos with major Hollywood actors, and have yet to attend one Hollywood party. I would rather bowl with my 11-year-old son than have lunch with an Academy Award-winner.
There has been an exception to this rule -- George W. Bush. I have loved and admired this man ever since I felt that I got to know him during his presidential campaign. (Before his winning the Republican nomination, I knew so little about him and thought so little of his chances of defeating Al Gore that I voted in the California primary for John McCain.) I believe that this man is changing history for the better, that he is the dam holding back the waters of chaos, that he saved this country at a time when Democrats would have failed it, and that he is both kind and strong, real and decent, powerful and humble.
So when I had the opportunity to stand in line with my wife and youngest child to simply shake this man's hand, I rushed at the opportunity. I waited in line as excited as most people would be to greet their favorite Hollywood star. Wearing a silly grin, I told the congressmen and senators around me that I felt like a 7-year-old about to meet Willie Mays or Derek Jeter. I even broke into a sweat.
My wife and I independently rehearsed what we might say if we were to have more than a simple handshake with the president.
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