I just met Bill Clinton. You know, 'Slick Willie', as his detractors like to call him. At a book signing at the Tattered Cover, in Denver. Met is quite an overstatement. We shook hands, he thanked me, like a couple thousand others, for coming. He signed my book "Bru Cumin" (he signed my wife's "Bill Clinton", the slick womanizer.)
I could not help but feel a little bit for him. Once the leader of the free world, sharing his thoughts with some of the most powerful statesmen and businessmen in the world, plotting economic policy, shifting the balance of the world. Revered by many, intensely hated by a bunch of determined bigots and adversaries. Now he was signing my book, shaking my hand, looking exhausted, after three hours and over two thousand autographs.
Even as tired as he was, he looked impressive, in a light blue shirt, tie, rolled up sleeves, like he had been hard at work (in a sense, he had been). Hair impeccably coiffed. You could truly sense the greatness that so many others before us have felt in the past. His presence did fill the room (with the help of half a dozen Secret Service agents, looking tensely at each individual as he or she approached the President.)
When he was President, William Jefferson Clinton generated extreme reactions in other human beings. He still does. Most of the people in attendance seemed genuinely starstruck in the presence of the former President. Not everyone, though. Outside the bookstore, I spotted a nostalgic 'Slick Willie' hater. He was standing alone, on the sidewalk opposite the store entrance, with a sign that read something like this: "Don't you get it, Slick? It's about perjury!" I wanted to tell the guy to go home. After all, it's been three and a half years since Clinton left the White House. I wanted to say to the guy: "Don't you long for the days when perjury was about cigars and the betrayal of one's spouse?"
By now you must have figured it out. I would not go to Dubya's book-signing event. I don't like him. I would not waste my time. The contrast between him and Bill Clinton is antipodal. Bush has the shifty eyes of a crook, acts like a crook, and talks like a dyslexic crook, or one with a faulty teleprompter. He could never have been president before they invented earpieces, which make it possible for some other, better-educated crook to whisper in his ear the next crooked thing to say. Bill Clinton, on the contrary, is perfectly capable of making up a story, as he did, without anybody's assistance. And yet, that does not make a crook. Deceitful, maybe. Slick, also. But certainly human; humane, rather. Unlike Dubya, you could truly believe Bill Clinton when he said--as he did in many of his speeches--"I feel your pain." He looks solemn and compassionate at the same time. He certainly looked human, after three hours spent signing books.