Sunday, November 2, 2008

Unforgetable



Good politicians, of course, share certain attributes with good salesmen. The one that impresses me most, because I absolutely don’t have it, is a particular kind of memory. They remember your name, your spouse’s name, your children’s names, and a tidbit or two about you all. To me, that is, as Nat silkily sings, “just incredible.” [Time out: He really misses that last note, doesn’t he?]

My local Democratic Town Committee had a rally on Woodbury’s North Green on yesterday’s crisp, gorgeous Saturday morning (I forgot to bring my camera, so unfortunately I can post no pics of this classic New England scene). This has always been a strongly Republican part of a generally Democratic state, but this year, party officials see a chance to grab a seat in the State Senate. My friend John McCarthy, a former American Ambassador to Tunisia and Lebanon, now retired from the foreign service, is running a strong campaign emphasizing competence and pragmatism—what a concept!—in a time that requires change.

So the big Connecticut guns were all wheeled out yesterday morning to support and energize: The chair of the state party, our Democratic Congressman, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the State, the Comptroller, recent (and undoubtedly future) candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, the Majority Leader of the State Senate, and a few I’ve probably forgotten. Much cheerful speechifying about the importance of getting John and Barack elected—an unusually terrific, positive, enjoyable kickoff to the final three days of hectic Get Out The Vote activities.

Back to that memory deal. I’ve been an active Democrat for long enough to have gotten on what I think of as “the list.” Some Democrat in Hartford needs to know a little something about Woodbury? Call this guy. Looking for a sacrificial lamb in some impossible election? If this guy won’t run, he knows someone suicidal who will. Most of all, need to raise some money for your campaign? This guy’s been carrying our flag for a while; he should be good for something. So every four years I get a call from our Secretary of the State. We schmooze, she asks me for money, I agree to send some, we say good-bye, and she goes on to the next index card in her contributor file. Every two years, she calls just to schmooze. She might also ask for a little money, but this call is mainly to keep in touch. She has higher office very much in mind. All of this is fine by me—she’s good at her job, and she doesn’t have to twist my arm for support. The thing is, we’d never actually met until yesterday. I walked up to her, introduced myself, and the first thing she said, without missing a beat, was, “how’s the writing going?” and the second was, “are you still winding the town clock?”

Well, the writing’s not going all that great, and I stopped winding the clock a while ago, but I was still astonished, and oddly gratified.

On the other hand, I suppose the deployment of this sort of fact-retention is responsible for the success of a good half of the incompetent hacks in office. I know it’s resulted in my buying the occasional unfortunate necktie.

1 comment:

WD said...

Mark,
nothing to do with the post. But how are you getting on with that meths stove of yours?
I'm in process of getting one. Just waiting to find out how much he will charge to send it to UK.