Meeting Bill Clinton, Remembering Steve Jobs.

October 07, 2011 Filed under: Politics

I met Bill Clinton last night. Oddly, I get a similar feeling thinking about him as I do Steve Jobs. Maybe it's my association with the roaring 90s, or perhaps the monstrous charisma they both exude. Was balancing the budget the political equivalent to getting all of my music I ever owned on one little, beautiful device? It's all magic to me. Back to the event: I walked over to the President as he and Scott Heiferman were talking about the power of self-organized groups. They got kicked off on their conversation, of course, by talking about what Scott does, but when I fully poked my head into the conversation they were on to crowd funding and all the old regulation getting in the way of more crowd lending programs and domestic micro-finance programs. Super fun fact: President Bill Clinton is a big fan of Kickstarter. Also cool, but not surprising: the President still knows more about policy than 99.999% of people who talk about policy. The extensiveness of his knowledge on these issues was astounding. Details matter and are what good policy is made from.

Anyway, when the President introduced himself to me (he has this whole pivot, look you the in the eye, extend his hand and say 'hello' thing down pretty well), I wasn't quite sure what to say. I told him about the NY Tech Meetup for a moment (was cool to have Scott there next to me), but had actually come to the event knowing exactly what I wanted to say to him, if given the chance. So this is what I told him:

"I just wanted to let you know that when I was 9, in 1992, I had just started playing the saxophone, and to see a presidential candidate play the saxophone on national television was about the coolest thing ever. Thanks."

This is the video of the "Arsenio moment", if you've never seen it:

I've met "famous" people before, but I've never really known what to say, and when I do say something I usually think "I can't believe I said that!" Not this time. Telling him a memory from when I was nine and he wasn't elected president yet felt awesome and I think it was a fun story for him too. Of course, in Cliton's famous style, he followed up my story with an incredibly detailed story about jazz and the Elvis song played (Heartbreak Hotel).

Anyway, now that I have you in the mood, here's another video of the President playing saxophone. This time at the Newport Jazz Festival's 40th Anniversary:

And this brings me to Steve Jobs. If I had ever gotten the chance to meet him I would have told him about the fun my brother and I had playing the Voyage of the Mimi game on our Apple IIe. The game had all these cool peripherals, like a barometer and light meter. It turned our computer into a science kit. While Microsoft embraced business Apple aimed at education. And that's why I've always loved Apple: Spreadsheets? Any computer can run a spreadsheet. Not every computer, at least not ever computer in the mid-80s, made you want to learn something.

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