Under the Gaze of TR
February 8, 2011 4:33 PM
It's not often that a guy gets to hang out with the leader of the free world. But Sunday night my wife, Dianne, and I got a chance to watch the Super Bowl with President & Michelle Obama and about 200 of his friends and cabinet members along with public officials from Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
I brought along a neatly packed box of samplings of local edibles and drinkables prepared by Metcalfe's Market. Whether the President and the First Lady actually taste the green and gold cheese curds or pop open the Hopalicious I can't say for sure. (And, yes, I know I missed a lot of things. I've already heard from some of you who have pointed out items I should have taken. I had a suitcase, not a semi, people!)
It was a pretty relaxed evening if you account for being in the East Room of the White House and watching the Packers play their biggest game in a decade and a half. The President was with us for almost all of the game, moving easily around the room and chatting with everyone as we watched the game. I was able to talk with him on a couple of occasions. We talked football and high speed rail and he was very interested in how our economy was faring here in Madison and in the state.
The President is a Bears fan, but for the most part he kept that defect to himself. He did wander over to the Packer side of the room as the game tightened in the third quarter to mention that it had gotten awfully quiet in our area. Dianne offered him a Packer pon pom that was on our table so that he could lead the cheers, but he declined saying that green and gold might cause an allergic reaction in him.
As much as we enjoyed the whole experience of the game, I couldn't get over the sense of history of this place. I had the opportunity to wander the main floor of the White House more or less at will, which is not an experience most people get. At one point I sat down in the Red Room, all by myself, in front of a roaring fireplace. I have been reading Edmund Morris' final installment in his trilogy on the life of Teddy Roosevelt. Back in the East Room the game played out on a big screen TV and peering over it back at us was the official portrait of TR, a man who would have heartily approved of the game happening beneath his gaze and, I think, of the man who now holds his job.