Open Mike

Reflections of visits from the White House

Life has become very interesting lately. Life has always been interesting, but it gets more so with each passing moment.

Take for instance the recent visit of Vice President Dick Cheney to Kennewick. It is not every day some average Joe like myself can see both the President, George W. Bush, and the Vice President in the same year.

Both presidential visits were very different.

Take the press crew that travels around with both gentlemen. The press people that were in both pools are completely different. The President's press pool was much more uptight, not as talkative, carrying the look like they had to go the restroom. While the Vice President's press pool is much more relaxed, joyful to be around.

Being with both press pools provided interesting memories. The President's press pool that accompanied Bush to Ice Harbor Dam looks like the cream of the crop from all the different newspapers in the country. These are the types of journalists that every reporter strives to be. While the Vice President's pool was much more relaxed, the type of people you would sit back and barbecue with.

The Vice President's press pool had several comedians in it, but none more so than the gentleman from the Washington bureau of the Los Angeles Times. This gentleman told me he wasn't even go to file a story on Cheney unless he started verbally attacking John Kerry. Oh, to have that kind of power to be able to tell your boss what you are going to do.

The most pressing question on the mind of the Los Angeles Times reporter, after he learned where I work, seemed to be where is Sunnyside. He naturally knew where Yakima was, probably obtaining the information from the back section of the USA Today on the weather page. I calmly explained to the reporter that Sunnyside is some 30 miles southeast of Yakima. He said, oh! His next question was about demographics. He basically wanted to know if the demographics of Benton County were reflective of the audience in attendance at the $250 per plate luncheon on Monday. Or to better state his question, he was asking if only rich white people lived in the Tri-Cities. I told him yes for the most part.

I have enjoyed covering both the President and the Vice President's trips into the Tri-Cities area. Cheney is a very eloquent, commanding speaker. A contradiction I know, but he manages to hold your attention with his powerful presence.

There is also a huge difference in the security for the President and the Vice President. During the President's visit, he had all of these secret service guards near him, who looked as if they would rip your head off without hesitation. No disrespect to the Vice President, but the one thing that intimidated me most during his visit was the explosive sniffing dog that looked like he would eat you for lunch without hesitation. I mean, this dog is probably treated like royalty but has all of the skills of a trained assassin.

When the President went to Ice Harbor Dam it was a much more friendly visit. The President just seems like a guy you could sit down and talk to for hours. On the other hand, the Vice President seemed like he had a plane to catch-and he did.

A short while back, shortly after I wrote an enduring column about former President Bill Clinton, saying how the country was a better place when he was in office, Jerri Honeyford, wife of state Senator Jim Honeyford, dropped by a little momento that I now hang on my wall. It voices her support of the Bush-Cheney campaign. While I am not quite ready to join the Republican Party yet, I do now see and understand some of what is being said. I do agree with some view points of the Republicans, but yet I still don't. But, Jerri, while I still think Bill was an asset to the United States-he did do some good things-don't sell my seat at the Republican Club meeting just yet. There may still be hope for me.

. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at


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