We sat in the living room. I turned the radio to KHUM and began cooking dinner. My oldest has gone retro recently and dug out his old Gameboy. My middle son lounged by the fire reading a novel, they ignored the news as always while I avidly sucked it all in as always. But, then Bill Clinton began to speak.

A sparse population, a remote location, and California’s position in the primaries conspired to keep candidates and high profile politicians far from even our county seat. The last time a president was here was in the ‘60’s. Before that, it was Herbert Hoover. But now, with California a player in the upcoming primary, Bill Clinton showed up in Eureka to give a standard stump speech in support of his wife. Apparently, more than a thousand disappointed people were turned away from an overcrowded facility but here in our remote mountain home, Clinton worked his magic through the radio.

First one teenager, then the other began to listen. Staunch Obama supporters (for reasons having more to do with Obama’s perceived outsider status than actual policies), I expected to hear many snarky comments. But first Clinton made them laugh and then he drew them in with his fabled warmth and (apparent) sincerity. We missed some of his speech as they asked me questions about what had Bill Clinton done as president. However, we heard enough that they fell a little under his spell. At the end one son said, “If she talks like him, like a real person, she’s got my vote.” We chatted for another half an hour about everything from the Peace Accords to Bill playing the sax to Monica to the deficit.

I expect his magic to wear off tomorrow. I expect tomorrow they’ll be thinking about the issues and wondering (like me) if Hilary Clinton will make the changes they want to see (and whether they can wheedle more video time out of me). But tonight Bill waved a wand and made presidents seem like people and made political policies seem relevant. And, they care a little bit more about the process and want to know more about policies. So a thank you to all the people who worked so hard to bring Bill Clinton here, you and the president made politics tangible to boys learning to be men.

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