We just finished a two hour blogger lunch with President Clinton at his NY office in Harlem. He had reached out to a group of us a few weeks ago, before the Disney/ABC blow up, simply because he wanted to meet some bloggers. Much of the lunch was off the record, but some was on. And while the policy discussion was fascinating, for me these kind of get togethers are far more interesting on a personal than substantive level. Meaning, it's fascinating to see someone like Clinton in person. How his brain works, what he's like personally, and just as importantly, to meet and get to know his staff so we can all help each other in the future (we are, after all, Democratic bloggers).
My impressions? He looks a little older than I expected, though befitting someone who was president for eight years (and he was first elected 14 years ago). He's got beautiful blue eyes (this isn't something I normally notice, but in his case I did, and he does, and I suspect he uses it to good effect). The man is smart as hell. He knows a lot about everything, and he gets it, he gets politics, he gets people, he understands what's going on and knows how to get things done. His political advice is no-nonsense and straight forward - he'd rather take an issue on than run from it (oh for the days of that in a Democratic politician).
Among those attending, that I can recall, were Atrios, Joe in DC and me, Chris Bowers and Matt Stoller from MyDD, McJoan from DailyKos, John Amato from Crooks & Liars (by phone from CA), Jane and Christy from FDL, Liberal Oasis, Steve from CarpetBagger, Jeraly and son from TalkLeft, Dave Johnson from Seeing the Forest, and I'm sure a few others I'm forgetting.
The lunch was only scheduled to go for an hour and he stayed with us for two. I think that means he enjoyed himself, which is good. It's of course fascinating to be in the presence of someone like Clinton. You feel for a moment a part of history, a witness to history. And you get a small glimpse at greatness. For a politico, this kind of lunch is a life's dream. But on a more practical side, as I said at the beginning, these kind of meet-and-greets are what make politics work when it works - the importance of the personal cannot be overstated. We get more done working together than working separately, and that's one of the main messages we delivered.
Joe in DC is really lucky his best friend is a good photographer.
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