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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Honors in the Alternative Universe

Porcupine enjoys a good celebration, and this one was special. Porcupine attended the First Annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner, of the Massachusetts Republican Party, at the Westin Hotel.

As you can see, the crowd was big – well over 600 people, all turning out to honor a favorite son – Gov. Mitt Romney. The evening began in fine patriotic form with Gov. Romney’s granddaughter leading the crowd in a salute to the flag, but even before that, Gov. Romney made his way to the various tables thanking those who came – when he reached Porcupine, he laughed and said, “YOU again!” Porcupine is unsure if that is a compliment, or if Romney regards Porcupine as a sort of political town drunk. Porcupine has decided to hope for the best.

Before dinner, comedian Lenny Clarke performed briefly – he is instantly recognizable, and is best known for his role as Uncle Ted on the television show, ‘Rescue Me!’ He proceeded to tell some highly incorrect and borderline regrettable jokes. The mildest was a suggestion that we station border agents at the Mexican border and hand illegal immigrants packs of cigarettes because “there ain’t no sanctuary cities for smokers!” After Mr. Clark, Chair Torkildson recognized the various dignitaries in attendance and dinner was served.

After dinner, Republican National Committee Man Ron Kaufman took the stage. Kaufman was a campaign companion on Gov. Romney’s trek for office, and has grown almost as close to him as he is to another Presidential candidate he one worked for – George Herbert Walker Bush. Kaufman introduced a homemade videotape, shot by ‘41’ with the help of his granddaughter Gigi, in his home in Maine congratulating Romney on a fine campaign and wishing him a bright future. It isn’t often that you get to see amateur home movies shot by former Presidents. Next, Kaufman introduced a video tribute from one of Romney’s opponents – nominee John McCain. McCain called Romney a leader in the Republican Party, and a fierce and honorable competitor and adversary. “You may have noticed that we turn to Mitt for help in getting out our message on talk shows and in speeches – it’s hard enough defining your own point of view, but Gov. Romney is someone I can rely on and depend on.” After that, there was a 15 minute montage of the entire campaign – announcement, victory, ‘the speech’ about faith, election returns, and his withdrawal in favor of Sen. McCain – all brilliantly condensed by Michael Kolowich.

Next was Big Red – the Honorable William Weld himself. “It’s always a privilege to be with somebody who will eventually be President of the United States….and no, I DON’T mean Ron Kaufman!” Weld outlined some the Governor’s accomplishments, and praised his hard work and integrity. Weld and chqairman Torkildson presented Romney with the first Lincoln-Reagan Award.

Romney took the stage. Mitt thanked us all for coming and for working so hard for our Party. He then said, “You’ve all probably heard me tell this story (Porcupine had not), but this happened to me back in 1994. I was at a Boy Scout Court of Honor in a small VFW, and the Scoutmaster spoke about the troop’s colors. He explained that they had bought their flag, and had sent it to Washington, asking that it be flown over the Capitol. That was done, and later, when a space shuttle mission was going up, they asked if the flag could also go into space. After some persuasion, NASA agreed, and the entire troop gathered together to watch their flag take off, and they were bursting with pride – until the shuttle exploded as they watched. Later, the Scoutmaster tried to find out of there was anything left of the flag in the debris – he called over and over, but there was nothing. At last, he read about a flag washing up as part of the wreckage, and asked NASA if it was theirs, and NASA conformed that it was. The flag was unharmed. And right now, he said, that flag is right next to Mr. Romney. I held up one end of the flag, which had been embroidered across the edge with the word ‘Challenger’, and touching it, it was like electricity shooting up my arm, the thought of the courage and patriotism behind that flag.”

An emotional Romney continued, “That is why we will remain the greatest nation on earth – because of that deep, wide river of patriotism that runs through our people and our lives.” He humbly thanked his family, the assembled guests, and the Massachusetts Republican Party for the honor they did him.

Bill Weld is right once again – eventually, Mitt Romney will be President of the United States, and it was a pleasure to take part in a night which honors the man and his contributions to Massachusetts and the nation.

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