Meeting the Second Gentleman

Doug Emhoff is America’s first second gentleman — spouse of our first female vice president. I recently attended a reception with him in New York.

I walked the couple of miles to and from the bus station — I love soaking up New York’s vibrant ambience. Hadn’t been there in 18 months. This time the soaking was literal, in the rain, but I enjoyed it.

Before, one of the organizers phoned me, requesting removal of a somewhat risque photo in a past blog post. I complied; but at the reception told her I was flabbergasted to have been vetted with such thoroughness. She said it was the Secret Service. (Their presence at the event was low-key.)

I’m the short one

Emhoff is a lawyer, who married Kamala Harris in 2014. He seems to be a lovely human being, sweet, warm, funny, with no grandiosity. Somewhat flabbergasted himself at the role suddenly thrust upon him. Going around the country, to events like this, and many others. He said he’d led an insular sort of life before, and his eyes have been opened to an American panorama he’d never known.

I asked a question in the Q&A. “That’s a great question,” Emhoff said. (I’d recently heard a radio commentary about how ubiquitous that’s become in answering questions; since then I’ve noticed it myself.) I asked how, in his travels, as a non-politician, he communicates with Republicans, not political people either, but everyday folks. He answered that listening is very important — to understand where people are coming from — meeting them where they are at.

I knew nobody at the event, said little to anyone, enjoyed the food, and mostly felt like Oliver Sacks’s Anthropologist on Mars. All attendees (except for one gentleman of Indian heritage) were white. And upper echelon white* (big donors). I was treated very graciously.

On the bus trip (in contrast, the lone white passenger), I’d been reading Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, relating how in her early life, she experienced the other side of that coin. Such disparities in how people are seen and treated persist. But Michelle Obama did wind up living in the White House, and Doug Emhoff’s non-white wife is vice president. Social progress is too slow and fitful for many of us, but it’s happening.

*One other seeming exception was a scruffy looking long-bearded fellow in shorts and sneakers. He asked an interesting question. Just shows you can’t judge people by appearances.

3 Responses to “Meeting the Second Gentleman”

  1. Robyn Blumner Says:

    Hi Frank,

    Fascinating that you were asked to remove an image from one of your blog posts!

    By the way, YOU ARE THE BEST! Just wanted to say that.

    Robyn

    Robyn E. Blumner *President and CEO*, Center for Inquiry *Executive Director,* Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science 1012 14th St. NW, Suite 205 Washington, D.C. 20005 RBlumner@centerforinquiry.org

  2. rationaloptimist Says:

    No, YOU are the best.

  3. Don Bronkema Says:

    Glories of Gotham: pluvio, SS chekout, Gent-I amenability, gutsy guy in rags, Kamala her charming self [hope you touted AOC for 2028 ticket]. Yes, dispositive progress in values [e.g., abolition of slammerdom, torture, war, disequity, supply-side] can take millennia. Now, however, the pace quickens thanx to applied syntels, quant, superconduction, toxiphages & CRISPR, plus ovkorss trilayer graphene suitable for geostationary orbisols [conjured by respondent as editor of Smithsonian in October 1976 & presented during Hansen’s 1988 testimony]. Rodomontade aside, the future looks promising for septuagenarians, stirps & g/stirps. Nos centenuri te salutamus.

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