It was officially billed as An Evening with Former CIA Agent Valerie Plame Wilson.
I went for a couple of reasons.
First of all she’s earned the support.
Secondly she’s a secret freakin’ agent. Which actually makes her a little scary, but cool.
She’s on the road promoting her new book, Fair Game, My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House, (Simon & Schuster) and was welcomed to Philadelphia by a few hundred patrons of the arts, political junkies and Dubya haters.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit, when she took the occasional cheap shot at the Bush administration, the Air Force veteran in me wouldn’t allow myself to participate in the mob mentality applause. I did, however, clap when she mentioned that she and her husband, former diplomat Joe Wilson, are suing Libby and Cheney.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
She spoke on the Overlook of the Grand Hall in the National Constitution Center in downtown Philly.
The setting was spectacular.
Over my right shoulder, I could see through the expansive glass wall to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall just beyond. It was perfect, as moderator, Trudy Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out the significance of the moment we were all sharing.
Here we were, she reminded us, gathered under the roof of the institution dedicated to the very document to which we owed the freedoms being exercised all around us this Super Tuesday night, assembled under the protection and wisdom of our Founding Fathers, to listen to the story of a patriot, unjustly maligned by the very highest echelon of our elected government.
Or at least that’s what it says in the book.
I’m not about to get into the particulars of the Valerie Plame Wilson affair. Personally I think she and her husband are getting fucked over royally, but that’s my opinion.
I’d snagged the tickets one night while Shannon and her boyfriend Justin were lamenting about the lack of interesting stuff there is to do around here.
At first I did it just to expose them to something a little different–something not a movie or a concert. But as the date grew closer and I researched the details of Wilson’s story so I could tell the girls what to expect, I realized there was an opportunity to do something more than just expose Shannon and Justin to something different.
My girls would get to see what a woman can accomplish in the real world. Whichever side of this you come down on, you gotta admit, Valerie Wilson presents herself as an accomplished, courageous public servant.
And so, on Super Tuesday, while Americans all across the country exercised their votes for change, my daughters and I enjoyed our own pursuit of happiness, a stone’s throw from the spot where the Declaration of Independence was read to an unsuspecting world.
As I watched my girls throughout the program, I could see the significance of the circumstances was not lost on them.
They experienced Valerie Plame Wilson exercising her First Amendment rights, completely safe from the government she was there to bash, while they experienced their own right to peaceful assembly.
They saw not just Wilson, but Trudy Rubin and Jane Eisner. Women who also represent excellent, accomplished female role models, speak with passion and intelligence about the basic freedoms we were able to enjoy by sheer virtue of our Constitutional rights.
And they saw their weirdo dad drag them to a boring place to listen to a total stranger talk about stuff they’d normally click past on the TV or radio, and they liked it.
They got it, and couldn’t stop talking about it in the car all the way home.
Every now and then it all comes together for a parent and last night it came together for me.
I had a perfect evening with two of my favorite girls, Justin, and bona fide secret agent in the Cradle of Liberty.
Thanks to the following for citations, contributions and photos:
Cornell Law School
The National Constitution Center
The National Park Service
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia Museum of Art