THE DAY I DISSED THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
In November of 2007, my buddy Rob, a fellow political junkie, suggested we make the journey to Des Moine, Iowa for the Jefferson Jackson Dinner, a gala affair that takes place every election cycle where all the Democratic Presidential Candidates come to whip up their supporters with fiery speeches as a precursor to the hotly contested Iowa Caucus in early January. I jumped at the chance to see the likes of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards and all the rest in person so Rob bought us tickets and off we went. I had ordered two bottles of wine to be delivered to our table because, well, let’s face it, there was NO way I was going to sit through a speech from former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson WITHOUT at least two bottles of red wine.
At the time I was a big Hillary supporter so I wasted no time in snapping up a handful of buttons and pinning them to my chest. Rob was on Team Obama so he did the same with his guy. I was hoping to get some one on one time with Hillary, maybe a few seconds in passing where I could gush about how great I thought she was, but alas, the only brush I had with any of them was shaking the hand of the freshman senator from Illinois Barack Obama as he came out of the men’s room (he seemed like the kind of guy who washed his hands so I wasn’t too worried).
When Rob and I got to our table I noticed there was only one bottle of wine waiting for us. How could this be? I had specfically ordered and paid for two. This wasn’t happening. All those speeches to come and only one bottle! It was a nightmare scenario! I grabbed Rob by his sports jacket and cried, “We have to find that other bottle!” Rob tried in vain to calm me down. He’s really good at keeping a level head. But he also doesn’t drink nearly as much as I do so he failed to recognize the severity of the situation.
At this moment, a bright light popped on, blinding us. At first I thought it might be some kind of alien invasion. Or a Republican invasion. But I quickly realized it was just lights from a television camera. That’s when I noticed a small news crew surrounding us. And then, I heard a familiar voice say, “I can see from your buttons you two gentlemen are for other candidates, but I thought I would just stop and say hello.”
It was Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. The camera crew was following him around as he made the rounds greeting all the diehard Democrats at the dinner. He was with his wife Jill, even lovelier in person than on TV, and one of his strapping young sons. Not Beau. One of the others.
Rob was beside himself. Not over Biden. Over how cute the son was.
I shook Biden’s hand and smiled, trying to come up with something insightful to say when suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a waiter carrying a bottle of red wine and searching for the table where it belonged. Suddenly I yanked my hand free from Biden’s grip and started waving frantically and screaming “Over here! Over here!” I think I nearly clocked Jill Biden in the eye. Biden stepped back, a little startled. The dinner was being held in a large gymnasium and the noise from all the people chattering away was deafening. The waiter heard me, but couldn’t pinpoint exactly where the screams were coming from. He kept looking around, like a lost puppy. Finally, I raced away from Senator Biden and his family and flew across the room, nearly tackling the waiter to the floor. He saw the look in my eye and immediately released the bottle into my custody.
When I walked back to the table, Senator Biden had given up trying to have a conversation with us and moved on. I felt a twinge of guilt. I turned to Rob and said, “Was that rude? We basically ignored the poor guy.” Rob shook his head. “Don’t worry about it. Biden’s just an asterick in the polls.”
We sat down and started eating our salads as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared on stage and gave the welcoming address. And as I poured my first glass of wine, I remained blissfully ignornant of the fact that I had just dissed the future Vice President of the United States.