Heard Wes Clark speak this morning. I wasn't much interested in Clark during the last presidential campaign — probably because he was running against Ho-Ho, our hometown hero — but he was knowledgeable and articulate. Even likable, which surprised me a little, since he seemed so cold on the campaign trail. Maybe it's the gray hair and the shape of his face.
I took this photo after his speech. A few of us were standing around, waiting to talk with him and shake his hand, and this reporter from Santa Barbara started pressing him to clarify his position on Iraq. He'd said during his speech that he thought it was a mistake to go in, but that it would also be a mistake to execute an immediate and complete withdrawl.
The two of them went back and forth a few times — Clark didn't seem put-out at all by her questions. It was fascinating to watch this woman reporter grilling a former presidential candidate and supreme commander of NATO, to see him having to defend and explain his position. It made me appreciate the value of gutsy reporters who take the time to stay after and ask questions, and who aren't cowed by a public figure's power or prestige.
Witnessing that kind of exchange made the world seem a little smaller, a little more accessible, even to a small-town writer like me.