I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting Fred Karger, Republican candidate for President. I knew that student John Dalton had arranged this visit, but I had not expected that I would have the opportunity to meet Mr. Karger or to spend as much time with him as I did.
Because I happened to be talking to John when he received a call that Karger had arrived on campus, I was able to arrange for the candidate to park in the faculty lot and to contact security so he would not get a ticket. I was also able to arrange for him to give a brief talk to one of our history classes and to host a meeting in my office between the candidate and some students.
While in my office, I had the urge to have my photograph taken with Fred Karger; an urge that surprised me a great deal. Generally, I am not overly interested in obtaining such photographs. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet a number of celebrities and political leaders and have no photographs to show for it. Driving Pat Boone to the airport is an amusing story, shaking Leonard Nimoy’s hand was a thrill, and sharing a laugh with Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill would have been more fun had his brief remarks actually been brief.
If Mitt Romney had been on campus, I would have felt honored to be able to have my office used for a meeting between him and Schoolcraft College students. I would have moved Romney’s aid out of my office—as I did with Karger’s aid—so that students would have had more room to meet with the candidate. And I would have made sure that the students could have received photographs with Romney, but I would not have bothered to have one taken with him.
I plan to frame a photograph of Karger to put in my office. It will not be the one of just the two of us. Rather it will be one of Karger and the students. The only reason that I am in that photograph is because Karger’s aide took my camera from me and told me that I should be in it. I would have been fine staying behind the camera.
So why was I so interested in having a photograph taken with candidate Karger? I think the main reason was that I felt a personal connection to him. He was a kind and genuine man who appeared to be someone whom, under different circumstances, I could see having a friend. While I admire President Obama, I cannot envision chatting with him over a cup of tea or thinking he would have a fun time at one of the neighborhood barbeques we have in my back yard.
Candidate Karger is an underdog. After Michigan’s primary next Tuesday, it is not likely that his poll numbers will be reported in the national news. Time will be devoted to analyzing the Romney and Santorum campaigns. Gingrich will be discussed and Ron Paul might be inappropriately marginalized has he consistently has been.
Because I do not believe it is appropriate for me to cross party lines to vote in the Republican primary, I cannot cast a vote for Fred Karger next Tuesday. But it was a privilege doing what I could to make his visit to campus go well.
I wish Fred Karger well in Michigan’s primary and, whether or not he is the next President of the United States, whenever he returns to Southeast Michigan, he has a standing invitation for a cup of tea or to attend a back yard barbeque.
Let’s Make History
[Fred Karger commercial students watched in my office]