Off from the Watergate to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, to do some speaking.
Bob Noah at the wheel, Alex and I in the back seat as usual. I was asleep before we got out of the driveway. I awakened as we approached the Super Target in Bristow, Virginia. We eagerly went over to the door and walked into the emporium and then, disappointment: the deli counter there that had stocked the most delicious fried chicken made on the premises was totally rearranged. All they had was packaged chicken made somewhere else. It was dry and tasteless. Big, big disappointment .
Then we tried The Red Robin, from whose grille I had enjoyed a perfect cheeseburger in Studio City a few days ago. The food was decent but the other guests were great. There were about a dozen adorable girls from Autumn’s Gate Riding Academy. They giggled and posed for pictures. Just adorable in their jodhpurs and boots. Polite, Pleasant. Just adorable. One named Jenna or Janet was particularly charmante.
Then, back into the car and to sleep until Lynchburg. We checked into our surprisingly pleasant Hilton Garden Inn and watched the first half hour of Casino Royale, the stupendously great James Bond film of a few years ago. It features a chase scene in some African country on a job site that is probably the best movie scene of all time. Heart stopping. A work of incredible genius. As good as any movie gets. If you have not seen it, you are way, way behind the curve.
Then, a futile attempt to sleep. I slept too much in the car, I guess. Plus, I am keyed up as heck because the election is in a day and a half and I still think Romney threw it away by wimping out in Debate 3 when he had Obama in his sights. Makes me crazy that he screwed that up. Still, maybe he can win and I hope he does. But I am worried.
Then I looked out my window and saw a huge sign for Liberty and felt great. Just great. So, off to sleep I went. I feel safe at and around Liberty University.
Up very early, way too early to speak to Convo at Liberty. Ten thousand students in a beautiful basketball arena. I met up with Jerry and Becki Falwell in the green room. Jerry looked his usual handsome self only more so because he’s been on a diet. Becki always looks like a beautiful teenager.
I gave one of my best speeches ever, about abortion mostly. Red meat, as we say. “The war against women?” I asked. “How about 200,000 sex selection murders a year by abortion against little girls? How about the endless degradation of women in pornography? How about knocking up women and leaving them alone, making them raise kids on their own, robbing them of their youth and spirit? How many women are killed by abortion, pornography, abandonment? And you dare call trying to protect little baby girls from being killed ‘the war on women’?”
The crowd was extremely enthusiastic.
I signed autographs and posed for pictures for a long time, then went over to Lynchburg airport for a rally for Governor Romney. It was packed but poorly organized, as Bob Noah pointed out. No bands. No balloons. We waited for a good half an hour while Mr. Romney waited in his plane. Then he came out, gave a speech, greeted hundreds of people, then came over to greet Jerry and Becki and me. The Falwells know him well because Jerry heads Liberty and Liberty has had Mr. Romney speak there just recently. They probably know him for other reasons, too.
When Governor Romney saw me he said, “Ben Stein. Great White House speech writer. Great writer. Great shoes. Ready to run.”
These were, word for word, what he said to me when we met at the Family Values confab four years ago.
“Good luck, Governor,” I said. “God bless you.”
With a look of great sincerity on his handsome face, he grasped my hand tightly and said, “Thank you.” I was touched by his gaze and his warmth.
“Why does anyone want this horrible life of politics?” was the thought that crossed my mind. Why, when he has a family he loves and his faith? What does he need this agony for? This man has a certain sweetness about him. Why allow himself to be trashed, a billion dollars worth, by the other side? Why? Why not just stay at home in bed with his dog?
After Mr. Romney got back in his plane, I shook hands with about 500 people, took pictures, and signed people’s arms. That was fun but I would rather be with Julie Good Girl in bed.
On the way home, we visited Jerry and Becki’s perfect farmhouse high in the Blue Ridge. Becki showed us around. She is really a peach of a beautiful woman. The views over a lake and meadows were spectacular at the Falwell home, but I will take my far smaller home with my JGG.
On the way home, we stopped at a Sheetz truck stop on Route 81, a hellish highway. A bunch of truck drivers wanted autographs. I asked them what they were up to tonight. “Beating up Yankees,” said one of them cheerily.
In Gainesville, we stopped for dinner at Chick-Fil-A. A staggeringly pretty young girl named Kimberly was taking out the trash. She was an angel with trash in plastic bags and pale blue eyes and long blond hair and a tiny, almost invisible cut on her lips that made her even more bewitching. She told me she wanted to be a civil engineer.
That politics stuff. That’s nonsense. Kimberly. She’s real. My wife, she’s God’s angel in my life, at 65, more beautiful than when I met her two weeks after her 19th birthday. Crushes. As Wlady said, that’s the only reality.
As I made tea back at the Watergate, I thought, “It really doesn’t matter who wins. I’m still getting old very fast. Neither candidate can stop that.”
But I am haunted by the look in Mitt Romney’s eyes. Pained, perceptive yet full of hope, and even, I will dare say it, filled with a love of a highly flawed humanity. I like him. He is a credit to his race: the human race.