Posted by The Real Don Johnson on Wednesday, October 07, 2009 1:15:34 PM
I have attended several book signing events since moving to New Haven in March, and each has been interesting and informative in their own unique ways:
Richard Morris (Catastrophe) at the Yale Barnes & Nobel Bookstore. Mr. Morris is a political commentator and author who served as a key advisor to President Clinton. Since then, Mr. Morris has been very active in conservative circles, has authored bestselling books on political issues, and is a frequent contributor to the Fox News Network. Mr. Morris is one of those folks whose commentary and insight I value. You may not agree with him, and he is not always right, but to ignore his knowledge and insight is to your own detriment, because so often he is on the mark. At Yale, Mr. Morris addressed the Yale student body (actually there were only about 20 of us) and took questions and comments from the audience. I had the opportunity to meet him personally, and talked briefly to him. I was especially impressed by a small group of Yale students who invited Mr. Morris to moderate an on campus debate, and also do the book signing event.
Marc Wortman (The Bonfire; The Millionaire’s Unit: The Aristocratic Flyboys who Fought the Great War and Invented American Airpower) and Carol Berkin (Civil War Wives: The Lives and Times of Angelina Grimke Weld, Varina Howell Davis, and Julia Dent Grant). at R.J. Julia bookstore in Madison CT. These two authors shared the stage, and their passion for their topics in a most interesting fashion. I have a personal interest in Mr. Wortman, as he is a neighbor and friend here in New Haven. I am currently reading the “Unit”, and find it incredibly fascinating. Mr. Wortman unveils Yale campus life in the pre World War I days in a very detailed and yet intimate fashion. The Yale football juggernaut of those early years was incredible, a three year winning streak of 37 games with 35 shutouts; and a scoring spread of 1,640 to 6. The Yale stadium is a short 10 minute walk from where we live, and holds 62,000+. At the time it was built in 1914, it was the largest outdoor sports stadium in the world since the Roman Empire. Saturday I attended my first game there. It cost me $4.00, but we lost to Lafayette.
Glen Beck (Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government) at the North Haven Barnes & Noble. This was an amazing event, with Mr. Beck himself being himself a minor part of my experience at the event (he was 90 minutes late at the end of an all day tour to 5 New England stores). The event was very well attended by at least 1,000 people. The signing line snaked though the store, out the door, and down the sidewalk for quite a ways. The store itself was crowded with folks like me who didn’t want to wait all night for a signed copy (we left our copies with the store and picked up signed copies the next day anyway). The crowd was much like myself, mid sixties or thereabouts, well behaved, and I think it would be fair to characterize them as “Tea Party” kinds of folks. I talked to many of them, and like myself, they expressed concern about the direction and future of the nation under the Obama administration. No one seemed to know when the scheduled riots started though; I guess since it was well past nap time for most of us, they must have been postponed.
Old folks weren’t the only ones in attendance however. There were several groups of young people that I talked to as well. One group of about 6 high school students was there with protest signs and received the award for unusual bravery. You see, they were protesting the event, and in particular Mr. Beck. They were civil and respectful in their protest, and the crowd largely ignored them. I talked with them for quite some time, to get a sense of where they were politically. One of the young boys carried a sign that read “Young people for Socialism”, and the general feeling among them was that Mr. Beck was spewing hatred and intolerance. They were also of the mind that the Constitution was outdated, and not of any value in dealing with the problems of the modern world. I didn’t attempt to argue with them, or try to change their minds, but rather encouraged them to study the founding of the nation, and the development of the Constitution, in particular the Federalist Papers by Hamilton, Madison and Jay. I also gave them a copy of Beck’s book “Common Sense”, which contains a copy of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense”. They thanked my, said they would keep an open mind, and read the book.
The other group of young folks was two young high school boys. They had just purchased “Idiots”, and so I asked them why they were attending such an event with such a controversial person such as Beck. They told me that they were basically of a conservative mind set, and had been following Beck since his days at CNN. They felt a resonance with what Beck has to say, and the questions he is asking of the powers to be. One of the boys has plans to enter politics in the future.
All in all, quite an exciting night. I am encouraged to see so many concerned citizens come out to such an event, especially on a rainy night in a part of the country that is known to be very liberal in its politics. Yes, they are “tea party” kinks of folks, just ordinary folks concerned about their nation and its future. They’re my kind of folks, and I’m proud to be part of them.