It was most interesting Thursday night, after sitting in Madison Square Garden in New York City for three consecutive nights, to watch the Republican National Convention on Television in Birch Harbor, Wash., on the Puget Sound.
I was able to point out to my vacationing family where my seats were, and other points of interest inside the convention hall. Had I not had these family plans, I would have been there cheering the president.
I shook hands with New Your Gov. George Pataki at a reception Thursday, so I watched with interest his introduction of President Bush. I though he did an excellent job. That was quite a trio of Yale leadership over three years - Kerry in the class of '66, Pataki the class of '67 and Bush in '68. Yale alumni of all political persuasions can be justifiably proud.
On Wednesday, I had my most memorable conversation with a New Yorker, and it was almost by accident. My colleagues and I had just left our third and final reception and needed to get back to our hotel to change for dinner and the convention.
We became increasingly frustrated with our inability to find an empty cab. It was closing time, and the cabs were all full. In New York City, the north-south streets are called avenues, and the east-west are called streets. Since we needed to go South, we were hailing taxis on the avenues.
While standing in our second location, I noticed a van parked with an older gentleman in the driver's seat. He could tell I was there for the Republican convention because of my credentials hanging from my neck. He waved me over.
Once beside the car, I realized he was an orthodox Jew. His beard and skull cap, as well as his accent, made that clear.
"Are you for Bush?" he asked in his accented English.
"Yes I am," I replied
"Bush must be elected, he must be elected!" he said with passion.
We continued our conversation for some time. One of the things was words to the effect that "Bush kick the rears of the Palestinians." No surprise this man was pro Israel. He went on to say all Bush had to do was come to his synagogue, and lots of Jews would vote for him.
Could I help get the president there? Yeah right, how in the world could I ever so that? When he gave me his card it was then that I learned I was talking with Rabbi Moshe B. Sabbagh, president of the Community Board of Special Aid & Special Education.
So here was this Eastern Oregon farm boy, visiting with a New York Rabbi, standing in the street trying to stop a taxi. And he was asking me to help him get the president to visit his neighborhood and Synagogue.
I told him I would do what I could when my group decided it was time to move to another location in our continuing effort to hail a cab.
As I thought about the conversation, I remembered contacts I have in the White House Intergovernmental Affairs Office. And you know what, I am going to carry that rabbi's request to the White House. I do not know what will come of it, but I am going to try.
Umatilla County commissioner Bill Hansell lives in Athena. He attended the Republican Convention as president-elect of the National Association of Counties.