When I was in medical school, I was a vocal Bill Clinton supporter. In fact, I was the only one. Once I heard the Arkansas governor speak of middle class tax cuts for my parents and his desire to strengthen the family doctor's role in medicine, I was sold.
Of course, my presidential choice was not a popular one in the Deep South, not even during the Bush recession of 1992. My position was made even worse by the fact that I was surrounded by old-money, conservative, Southern classmates who were the children of wealthy surgeons. In a class of 100 young adults, my view was outnumbered probably 90 to 10. And my position was so unpopular, the other 9 like-minded colleagues (a few African American friends and an Asian American friend) were too afraid to back me up! Often, after I received verbal thrashings from my conservative classmates at the anatomy table, the few closet Democrats in the class would come up to me afterwards and say, "Man, thank you for sticking up for Clinton like that! I'm with you!" Gee, thanks. Why didn't you say that publicly?
The story gets worse. Later that year, I was in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, eating at a Cuco's restaurant across from USM with my wife. I was wearing my Clinton/Gore shirt, something I chose for no reason- it was the next T-shirt in line. Big mistake in rural Mississippi right before an election. A middle-aged gentleman in line at the restaurant saw my shirt and said in a voice loud enough to be overheard by anyone, "Look at that kid. I bet he doesn't pay any taxes. If he paid taxes, he wouldn't be wearing that shirt!"
Four days before the election in Jackson, Mississippi, I was able to shake Governor Clinton's hand. Perhaps foreshadowing the way Clintonian politics were to be played, I had to lie and say I worked for a Democrat big-wig in order to get close enough to do so (to this day, I have a friend that calls me "the kingmaker", because when presidential candidates shake my hand, they win. I did not meet John McCain, nor have I met Donald Trump).
We know how the Bill Clinton saga ended. Within four years, President Clinton's promise of middle class tax cuts had turned into middle class tax increases, his focus on family doctors had morphed into the "gatekeeper" philosophy of the hated HMO insurances (the forerunners of the disastrous Obamacare), and I was earning my first real paycheck as a medical resident physician in Florida.
And darned if that loud-mouthed gentleman in Hattiesburg wasn't right!
Part 2:"The Greatest President of the 20th Century", coming soon.