People have asked me why I didn’t attend either the breakfast, lunch or dinner fundraisers with Mitt Romney last Saturday when he was in town. They say they know I was invited. Was it because of politics that I did not attend?
Well, what happened is that we had a family reunion out in Ohio that weekend. It had been in the planning stage for nearly six months and people were coming from all over. Then the invitation to the Romney affair came just three weeks ago. What could I say? We were almost 100 people coming together out in Ohio. Hadn’t seen many of them in years. “Sorry, I have a last minute change of plans, Mitt has invited me to have breakfast with him, so just leave an empty plate setting for me.” I couldn’t do that.
I will say that the Romney people were very persistent about all this. When I first told them about this, they said well, it could be either one or the other of their fundraisers, either at Perelman’s or Koch’s, I could take my choice. They wanted to know if it was lunch or dinner out there in Millersburg, and they’d accommodate me. If it were lunch, they could get me out there in time for dinner—it’s just an hour away by private plane—and if it were dinner they could pick me up right after the lunch here—I wouldn’t even have to stay the whole time—and they could fly me out to Millersburg.
I admit I was torn for a while. I mean, that was tempting. But the thing was that the reunion was not just a lunch or dinner, it was the whole weekend. The whole weekend was filled with activities. So in the end I said no I just couldn’t.
Then they offered to simply fly everybody in Millersburg to East Hampton for that Saturday. They could arrange for that day’s reunion events to be out on one of the potato fields in Bridgehampton just over the dunes, they’d put up a tent for my people—and then I could excuse myself for an hour or two and they could whisk me off to one or the other of the Romney events for an hour and nobody at my family’s event would even be the wiser.
They also told me that Romney would be deeply disappointed if I did not come. I could even bring my dog. He’d heard I love dogs. He’s a big fan of your paper, they told me. And of course, I told them I know that. And he also loves dogs.
But I still demurred. I just couldn’t. It’s not about the politics, I told them. Four years earlier, when it was Barack who was out here for the big money, I took a pass when invited to those fundraisers. It had only been a few weeks before that I had played him one on one at the basketball court on State Street in Chicago (and lost), so I think he understood. We’d catch up with one another later. My problem then was this series of important Knicks games that Spike Lee said I just had to go to.
Don’t get me wrong. I love going to these affairs where all the hoo hahs strut their stuff. There’s all this energy, all this unfettered power on display. Once I told Hillary I thought it was such an up to feel that energy and she said she felt it too. Later, she told me that is what she missed most when she was cast out into the wilderness after getting nosed out by Barack at the convention. It was why she said “yes” when he’d asked her to be his Secretary of State. Berlin, Rwanda, Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, Reykavik, Oslo and more and more and more.
She said she’d see me at the Artist–Writers Softball game in August and we could talk about it further, but then game day came and she never showed. Two weeks later, I got a postcard from her. There was a picture of a yak on the front. Her handwriting was on the back. There was a crisis in Mongolia she had to attend to at the last minute she wrote. Didn’t even have time to call. Imagine that. Even with the diplomatic pouch, a postcard takes two weeks. That’s what they have to put up with in that place.
Anyway, I did get a call from Mitt late on Saturday. He was on his way from his lunch at Perelman’s in East Hampton to his dinner at Koch’s, and he had a few minutes there in the SUV with all the flags on the fenders fluttering and thought he’d call to say hello. He told me that Elise and Bob, and Harlan, Tom and Richard and Cherise and that German lady Mrs. Merkel asked about me and he made a little joke with them about my being out in Millersburg—something about Barack being not far from there in Youngstown, Ohio that day and I had probably been invited to that and then everybody laughed. I told him, of course I had been invited but I would not do that to my family either. I would have instead gone to his thing in the Hamptons. And they could have flown me in. He had invited me first after all.
The thing you have to realize, my friends, is that what your real politics are you have to keep close to your vest at all times. You can’t be just for the Democrats or just for the Republicans. You have to tell the Democrats that on some occasions you lean to the left and you have to tell the Republicans that on some occasions you lean to the right. They know my writing. So they know. What I always say is that I’m a Republicrat. No, I’m a Demopublican. It’s a good joke. It’s a thigh slapper and I tell it again and again.
That way, when you wake up in the Lincoln Bedroom some mornings, you find yourself kissed on the forehead by a smiling George W. Bush who’s just come back from his morning workout one time and by a grinning Bill Clinton just back from his morning workout another.
It’s a wonderful life. And I’ve been telling that to Ron and Bill and George and now Barack for years. Oh, and now Mitt, bless him.