Thursday, October 19, 2006

When a former president comes to your conference

October 19

All of the press materials for MUFSO said that our keynote speaker was going to be CNN's Anderson Cooper. Then when people showed up, they learned that he was being replaced by the 41st president of the United States of America.
The rumors about the switcharoo were hilarious.
Conference attendees were speculating that for security reasons we couldn't announce that George Herbert Walker Bush was speaking more than two days in advance, and that we paid Anderson Cooper off so that we could use his name and picture as a ruse.
That makes us sound so smart and sneaky that I wish it were true. But in fact, three weeks before MUFSO Cooper backed out. Working journalists like him generally have a clause in the contracts for their speaking engagements that allow them to annul the contract if there's breaking news. I'm not sure what news was breaking a month ago — it was before North Korea's detonation of a nuclear device and after the war in Lebanon — but at any rate, he backed out.
Our brilliant Monique Monaco always has a Plan B, and it just so happened that Bush père was going to be in Dallas anyway; he just needed to come in a day early to talk to the Multi-unit Foodservice Operators conference.
"That just rolls off the tongue," he said of MUFSO's full name.
He was being ironic.
The night before he spoke rumors were rife about the security checks we'd have to endure to get in. Although he was set to speak at 8 a.m., word had it that if you weren't there by 7:30, they wouldn't let you in.
Actually, as long as you were wearing an attendee badge security pretty much left you alone. They just asked that everyone remain seated until President Bush left the area.

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