Is this a great country, or what?

Over the weekend Mrs. Gelding and I went down to Des Moines, the capitol and erstwhile cultural center of this fair State. We took ourselves and our kid and her buddy to see Mama Mia, the Abba revival musical. It was OK, a little loud, but OK. During the Disco era we were busy having kids, trying to establish a business, pay the mortgage and all that so we did not connect to the music as much as others.

But there was something pretty telling at the performance. We arrived early since Mrs. G thinks that being early is better than being on time. We are quietly sitting there waiting for the show to start and watching the other people wander in. As we do this the daughter turns to me and says “There is the Governor.” I look, and there four or five rows ahead of us is the Governor and his wife, all by themselves as far as I can tell. They sit down. A few people say hello. That’s it. There is the Gov. Sitting in the middle of the audience. No body guards. No private box. No nothing.

Ain’t this a great country? Alert Stage Orange or not, the chief elected officer of the State is just out for a night of light entertainment and people let him do just that. On the way out we bumped elbows–we both said excuse me and that’s it. If was like Harry Truman taking a walk.

Very cool.

Heh. When Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, I saw/chatted with him, etc. as did others. He was very friendly and courteous. He usually showed up at the annual Mt. Nebo Chicken Fry. It was fun for all us small town folks to chat with our governor in an informal setting. The last time I talked to him there was in 1991, before he announced his run for the presidency. When I tild him I was living in the DC area, he talked about his days at Georgetown and said “hey, maybe I’ll see you there soon” and winked.

My favourite example of this sort of thing was when Clinton was visiting Ireland for the last time as Prez. He and Bertie Ahern (Irish leader [Taoiseach]) were in the presidential cavalcade heading from Dublin towards Northern Ireland, and Bertie said: we’re going to be driving past my local pub - do you want to drop in for a pint? Clinton said yes, and they stopped the whole damn thing, and went in for a pint, with no warning at all. There is even a rumour that the pub’s bouncers said to the Secret Service “It’s OK lads, we’ll handle it from here”.

Though Clinton only had a glass of lager, the big jessie.

Twisty went to the toilet with Bertie standing at the next urinal in the same bar. I see Bertie every now and then coming in and out of my estate as Celia(His SO) lives there.

I’ve heard rumors that SC’s new governor, Mark Sanford, had to buy a suit for his inauguration…because he didn’t own one. Apparently he only wore about four ties the entire campaign season.

Did I mention that his Inagural Ball was a barbecue at the State Farmer’s Market, where he encouraged attendees to wear khackis or jeans? Seems like a pretty neat, down-to-earth guy.

'Unconventional And Humble, Governor-Elect Finishes First In A Long Race’

I can’t match this. But when I was a senior in high school I was the “manager” for the Redondo High water-polo teams, meaning I handled the equipemnt. We played at Morningside Park one time, and one of the people in the stands was California politico Jesse Unruh, apparently a member of the State Senate, and his constituency was the Inglewood area. I met him and he gave me a handshake…highest-ranking government person I met for about 25 years. :slight_smile: And here he was watching high-school water polo.

And I once ran down Virginia gubernatorial candidate (and now Governor) Mark Warner with my two greyhounds at a Presidents Day Parade in Alexandria.

His group was behind ours in the march and he was being his run-around self. We crossed paths and the dogs won.

The look on his face was priceless.

I once saw Arlen Specter (longtime senator from PA) in the drugstore a block from my house – he lives in my neighborhood (though in a much nicer – i.e., more expensive – section of it). I said “Boy, this is weirder than seeing Ron Castille [former DA and onetime mayoral candidate in Philly; also a denizen of my neighborhood] in the Acme [grocery store].” He said “Yeah, Ron used to work for me [true, I’d forgotten Specter started as DA here] – he’s a weird guy.”

BTW – Ed Rendell, recently inaugurated governor of PA, also lives in my neighborhood – a fact we discussed when he was still mayor of Philly and called me up to congratulate me on winning $46,000 on Jeopardy.

But other than my neighbors, not much contact with pols.

I got you all beat. I once asked crown prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands for directions whilst walking through The Hague. He was standing at the same pedestrian crossing as me, and only had one bodyguard with him. Since he lives in The Hague and I don’t, I figured he’d know where I had to be, and he did. :slight_smile:

He was really friendly.

Oh, and our former prime minister used to ride his bicycle to work in the summer. Beat THAT, GWB. :smiley:

Fella bilong missus flodnak was boarding a flight from Trondheim to Oslo once when he noticed little paper “RESERVED” signs on the seats in the front row. At this time, all domestic flights in Norway were one-class, open-seating, so this was a little unusual. He took a seat a couple rows back and waited to see what bigshot thought he rated.

And on walked crown prince Harald and some other guys in suits.

Okay, I think he rates :wink:

Of course, his father wasn’t so picky about reserved seats, but that was for a twenty-minute tram ride…

Big deal. I had Phyliss Diller in our house when her limo got stuck in a snow-bank. :smiley:

Fagjunk Theology: Not just for sodomite propagandists anymore.

(thinks for a moment about the next-most-current Governor of Minnesota)

No comment.

[sub]hey, the guy had ACTION FIGURES made.[/sub]

“Had” Phyllis Diller?
In the, er…
Never mind.
I don’t want to know.

I can’t top the stories from our Irish and Dutch contributors but I’ve seen plenty of politicians and public figures out and about in London and other parts of the UK with no bodyguards whatsoever. Did you really think this sort of thing doesn’t happen in other countries?

There have been numerous threads asking for non-American Dopers’ perception of the USA and “extreme patriotism” is often mentioned. This is the sort of comment they’re probably referring to.

Just a thought – carry on.

Ethan Hawke slept off a hangover on my living room floor.

Back in the summer of '93 I went to go see James Brown at Wolf Trap. It has a pretty cool indoor/outdoor amphitheater where you can haul in your own beer and such. There didn’t used to be much in the way of crowd control.

So there we were, stoned and in the process of getting drunk, playing hackeysack on the asphalt track that led to the walkway bridge and the box seats. This way overdressed guy in sunglasses walked up to us and told us we had to stop blocking the track. We ignored him.

Just a couple of minutes later, I looked across the circle and there was Al and Tipper Gore and their security entourage walking on the grass to get around us. Al got this smirking look on his face and put his hand on the shoulder of the guy across from me. “I’m sorry we interrupted your game,” he said, and then headed off for the box seats.

It was pretty funny, seeing that stoned dude across from me registering the voice, then turning to see the Vice President smiling at him. And there was no question that Al enjoyed playing the joke as well.

Eh. The way I see it, the OP was just amazed that the Guv’ showed up without security under the Orange Alert situation. Whether that in and of itself makes a country great, I don’t know - it’s certainly somewhat remarkable.

Orange Alert - sounds like a great slogan for my national football team’s rise from the ashes, actually.

Dare I say this??
I met Dubya several years back, when he was still Gov of Texas. Bumped into him here in my own hometown, where he was visiting to examine a downtown restoration that had just been completed. He and his whole entourage stopped to have coffee and sundries at the little outdoor cafe where I was having a brief respite, as well. I wasn’t aware of any security, and if it was there, it was quite modest or at least inconspicuous. He sat down at the table next to mine and we struck up a conversation. Mind you, this was NOT an election stop-over. He was, literally, just visiting with me. I don’t recall all the details of the conversation, as it was pretty menial stuff, but I remember giving him my e-mail and mailing address (I had my own business at the time, and he was interested in talking to the independent business people in the area).
Well, I never got an e-mail from him, but not too long afterward I did start receiving mail from the governor’s mansion, addressed directly to me, by name, not “resident.” No, not the regular spam kinda stuff, but invitations to events at the mansion, etc. Stuff not everyone gets. But that wasn’t the clincher…
After he was elected, I received an invitation to the inauguration at the White House! (I have also received a White House Christmas card.) What made the invitation special (besides the obvious…not everyone gets one of those, either) was the small, hand-written note inside:
Name, I enjoyed our meeting in town name, and I appreciate your support for the last two years. I hope you can make it to DC. Sincerely,” and the signature.

AMAZING (at least, to me…and yes, I’ve had the inaugural invite and the small note framed).

Ok, I don’t like Dubya, but that is VERY cool. :slight_smile:

I had my congressman at my high school graduation party. Not that impressive, but it’s something, I suppose.