Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lunch with the First Lady

Another exciting Possum Cam adventure...

Well possums, blogging was light at the beginning of the week because of my road trip over to Kansas to hear First Lady, Laura Bush speak at a fundraiser for US Senator Pat Roberts. Having never attended one of these shindigs before I wasn't sure what to expect. Would a chicken dish be on the menu? Would it taste like rubber? Would the room be full of 'typical white women' in St. John's knit suits and bouffant hairdos? What would security be like? Would I be at a table so far back in the room that I wouldn't be able to see her?

The answers to these burning questions are: Yes. No. No. Somewhat present, but unobtrusive and no.

The event was held at the Sheraton Overland Park in the Cottonwood Ballroom and we drove over from Lawrence with time to spare to check out the scene. The Possum Cam was live. Sort of. The phrase operator error comes to mind. (Note to self: work on possum cam skills.)

The view from the back of the room - it really wasn't that big, holding just 44 tables each seating 9 at $500 a seat = $198, 000. (Not a bad haul for a 20 minute speech!) We were at table 34, third row of tables back, but with an excellent angle on the podium. And having gotten there early, we were in the Princess seats - the two with the most comfortable viewing of the stage, no craning your neck in these!

Our table awaits and luncheon is served...

The Menu: Tossed mixed greens w/ balsamic viniagrette, Fontina, Pancetta, and Spinach stuffed French cut chicken, Risotto Parmesano and glazed baby carrots. Getting in the room early not only affords one the princess seat, it also allows for the princess dessert swap. I swapped my Baby Chocolate Bundt Cake for the Raspberry Summer Breeze. (Just so you know - the luncheon was better than the dinner I had at Lawrence's most chi-chi restaurant later that night - so much for those rubber chicken rumors. Our politicos are eating higher at the trough than they'd like us all to believe!)

The room continued to fill up as a pianist tickled the ivories with songs like "Ain't she sweet" and "You musta been a beautiful baby" before breaking out the patriotic standards like "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "America, The Beautiful." The doors were closed promptly at 11:45 and the warm-up acts began. Mayor Peggy Dunn of Leawood was dubbed Master of Ceremonies and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. She introduced Senator Sam Brownback who made the opening remarks and gave a shout out to the other local politicos in the room then gave a short speech about his impressions of the First Lady and also Sen Roberts. He then told us to chow down, so chow down we did. The most humorous highlight of the occasion was when the Lord and Master was reading the program. "Holy Shit," he exclaimed. "I'm listed as a PATRON on this thing!" (I was too busy gabbing with my charming and lively seatmates to notice!)

We had three empty seats at our table - so I don't know if the place was sold out or not. It's hard to say because there were a number of folks that came in when Laura arrived, including a couple at our table - who had been in a group meeting privately with the First Lady. I wish I could give you more info on the meeting but they were being kind of snotty about giving up the details. Maybe it was me interrogating them like Barbara Walters - hah!)

Being a security chick
(thinking of you,
No Compromises) and all I was kind of surprised at the level of security. Or not. It was clearly present as is visible by the big ass SWAT vehicle parked outside...

But was light at the door - what appeared to be the local PD, 1 in uniform, 1 in plain clothes were at the door. (just visible through the couple behind us as we walked in - damn they hopped in my shot at the last minute)

Here's where the security surprise comes in - there was no bag checking, there was no magnetometer walk-through, hell, they didn't even check our photo ids! We just waltzed right up, gave our names and breezed right in.

A Secret Service detail arrived right before the First Lady. Check them out - I know you've seen these faces in the crowds accompanying the President and First Lady before.

Call me a typical white person but this gal's going to end up being busy if the Obamas get in...

And now - what you've all been reading for... Laura Bush. (I got a little misty-eyed when I first saw her.)

She really is as pretty in person as she appears in the media. She was gracious, charming and composed. Her speech focused solely on the Senator and she never let us forget what she was there for, and that was to get Senator Roberts re-elected. What were her biggest applause lines? Making George Bush's taxcuts permanent and the remarks she made on education.

After her speech Senator Roberts escorted her to one of the front tables and she shook about 6 hands before her security detail whisked her out the back door and she was gone! (I do have her speech on possum videocam if anyone is interested.. take your dramamine before watching. It's a little wavy-gravy.) A good time was had by all, Possums. I'm so glad I was able to attend. Hugs and kisses to the L & M for getting me in the door. Now I'm scheming and dreaming about getting to DC for W's farewell in January. Any ideas?

Bonus Possum Cam coverage: Tell me, does this look like a bomb to you?

I sure hope it is and that it is headed to the Paki-Afghan border region with OBL's name on it!