As we mentioned in the paper version of Unfair Park, Charles Osgood's in town promoting his new book A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House: Humor, Blunders and Other Oddities from the Presidential Campaign Trail -- and raiseing some dough for a local charity. Last night, he spoke to packed pews at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Plano; this morning, he sermonized over at Highland Park United Methodist Church. And for an event based on political humor, last night's appearance was pleasantly un-political -- at least until after the book signing.
Kay Richardson, director of Inviting Ministries at St. Andrew, coordinated the event with Osgood’s publicist, and about 750 people came to hear Osgood speak and sing and have him sign copies of his book. “We hoped to have at least 200 or 300 show up,” Richardson said. “So we are pleasantly surprised. The turn out definitely exceeded our expectations.” The host of CBS News Sunday Morning since 1994, Osgood had the predominantly silvery-haired audience in the palm of his soft, soft hands.
Osgood said he’s followed politics for a long time, and the theme of the night was how much the political climate has changed politicians' approach to campaigning. Gone, he insisted, is the humorous tone of politics, as modern campaigning has, of course, been taken over by a more “destructive” nature. The first elections he remembers being aware of were broadcast on the radio.
“Listening to the conventions was a lot of fun," he said. "You didn’t know who was going to win. It was like listening to a ballgame.” But talking about the way things have changed, he said: “Back then politicians could speak off the cuff. Today, I don’t know what Harry Truman would have done about YouTube.”
After speaking for nearly an hour, the audience was allowed to ask him questions -- although the deepest query may have been, “How many bow ties do you own?” Saying that he had no idea how many bow ties he owned, Osgood replied, “I dress in the dark.”
After a standing ovation, nearly half the audience lined up to get his autograph. A table loaded with copies of his book was set up in the church’s foyer. Sure, they were nearly 10 bucks more than on Amazon, but a portion of book sales went to the Collin County Children’s Advocacy Center.
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Osgood worked his way through the long line of people. And, just when he thought it was over and he was done for the night, a woman, who identified herself as “the black Hillary Clinton supporter in Texas,” approached the bow-tied-one. She didn’t have a book to sign. Said she’d bought a copy, but on her way from Dallas to Plano she’d “left it on the train.”
“When are you going to write a book about this election?” she asked Osgood. Describing the recent local primary election as a fiasco, she claimed that “Obama’s people just attacked us. They wouldn’t let us sign in…” Osgood cordially listened to her allegations, for several minutes, then ducked out -- presumably to ice down his arm for before this morning’s event.
And by the way, Unfair Park wondered how so many people could be watching him every Sunday morning and still make it to church on time? To which Osgood quipped, “Thank God for TiVo.” --Daniel Rodrigue