“Who Cares What You Think?”

A friend of a friend met the President during his inspiring stop in Independence Park in Philly last Wednesday. Here’s her account:

So when the President was here on July 4, I had the opportunity to shake his hand. I wasn’t sure if that was a good idea or not but I did it anyway, and said to him, “Mr President, I hope you only serve four years. I’m very disappointed in your work so far.”

He kept smiling and shaking my hand but answered, “Who cares what you think?” His face stayed photo-op perfect, but his eyes gave me a look that said, if we’d been drinking in some frathouse in Texas, he’d have happily answered, “Let’s take it outside.” A nasty little gleam. But he was (fortunately) constrained by Presidential propriety.

But that was the end of it until I turned away and started scribbling the quote down in my notepad, so as to remember the “Gift” forever. When he saw me do that, he got excited and craned his neck over the rubberneckers to shout at me, “Who are you with? Who are you with?” People started looking, so he made a joke: “Make sure you get it right.” But he kept at it: “Who do you write for?” I told him I wasn’t “with” anybody and pointed to one of his staff people who knows me a little, and said, “Ask him, he’ll tell you.” Then I split.

Half an hour later, my boss (who had helped organize the event we were at) came up to me and said, “Did you really tell the President that he was doing a ‘lousy fucking job’?”

“No way,” I said, “I was very polite, I just told him what I thought.” Fortunately, he believed me. He wasn’t happy with me, but he believed me.

But anyway, if you ever wondered if the Prez really is kind of a jerk, I’m here to tell you, he is, and I got The Gift to prove it. I’m thinking of making up t-shirts so we can share The Gift with everyone:

“Who cares what you think?” – President George W. Bush, July 4, 2001.