Friday, November 19, 2010

Listen Up, Mr. President

When you live in Washington D.C. as we did for many years, celebrities are not limited to Snooki, Lindsay and Britney. If you really want to get the interns revved up, spot Nancy (Pelosi), Harry(Reid) and now John (Boehner) dining at one of the venerable steak houses near Capitol Hill.
That's why having Roberto Rodriguez come to dinner at our house last night was a really big deal.
Mr. Rodriguez is Special Counsel to the President on Education, a handsome 35-year-old dynamo who advises Barack Obama on national school policy. He is, by Beltway standards, a minor celebrity.
In our world, he's a major one: Roberto also happens to be my husband's oldest and dearest friend, a fellow zoo school graduate from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who once ran the City High Student Council with Jim. (Three cheers for the City High "Pegasi," which was a somewhat dorky yet understandable mascot for Grand Rapids' gifted and talented youth.)
To know Roberto is to love him and in no time at all, six-year-old Elizabeth was perched on his lap as we grown-ups talked politics.
We explained to the twins that Roberto works for President Obama to make schools better.
"Is there any message you want Roberto to give to Mr. Obama?" I asked the kids. "Is there anything we as a country should be doing to improve your school?"
I, for one, could stand to do away with the TAKS tests but then, that's more of a state issue...
William, meanwhile, monkeyed with a paper plate, thoughtfully chewing his tongue.
"There should be more ice cream," he said, all business. "Every day there should be ice cream."
Roberto, ever the problem solver, asked for clarification.
"And should we have hot fudge available?" he prompted. "How about sprinkles? Do we want just vanilla or choclate, too?"
But Will wanted things simple.
"Vanilla would be good," William said.
"Well, that's important to know," Roberto said. "The House is considering the Child Nutrition Bill this week."
Who says officials don't listen to their constitutents?

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