In today’s Impromptus, I mention some recent guests at the White House: those charming friends of President Obama who flipped their middle fingers at the portrait of Reagan, and then published celebratory photos of their acts on the Internet. I am now reminded of a story — a story I have told on this site before. Forgive the repetition.
It comes from Ed Koch, actually. (And he tells it inimitably.) The mayor was riding with President Reagan somewhere in Manhattan. All of a sudden, Reagan said to him, “Hey, did you see that guy? He gave me the finger.” Koch said, “Mr. President, all of these people are cheering you and welcoming you. And you care about one schlubby guy who gives you the finger?”
Reagan sighed, “That’s what Nancy says: I always see the guy with the finger.”
My other favorite story on this subject features George W. Bush. He was campaigning with a congressman in Washington State when someone flipped him off. (It was a schoolbus driver, but that’s a different, longer story.) Bush turned to the congressman and said, “Not a fan.”
Obviously, the best of men have been flipped off. (Or rather, it’s obvious from my point of view.) Might even have happened to my own bad self, a time or two.
P.S. Sometimes, of course, a politician flips back. Remember Nelson Rockefeller?