My Upcoming Conversation with… June 27, 2009

My Upcoming Conversation with…

The other day, I was having lunch with a friend when Bristol Palin rang. I glanced at it, saw that it was from an unknown number, thought nothing of it, and kept eating.

As I was driving home, I listened to my voice mail:

Hi, Hemant. This is [Bob] and I’m calling from the White House Office of Public Engagement…

The White House called me. And I had ignored them because my Chipotle burrito was just too damn tasty.

In a slight panic, I called back. Bob wasn’t in his office. Did I miss my chance? We played phone tag. Luckily, I got in touch with him the next day and all is well.

So this Tuesday, I’ll get to speak to the White House Office of Public Engagement about the Secular Student Alliance, all the work our affiliates our doing, and how we may be able to work together. It’s as close as I’ll ever get to a direct line to President Obama.

You should’ve seen my little happy dance after we spoke. It was lovely.

Now, I fear I’ll say something inappropriate over the phone. I’m not sure what… but I’m worried.

You can help me out. Just leave a comment with anything I should make sure not to say.

I’ll study over the list and then everything will go wonderfully. I’m sure of it.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Don’t ask them if you can have babies for lunch, otherwise I think you are good to go!

  • no matter what, do NOT say “labia”

  • If this was in person I would tell you to not wear the sandwich board from Diehard 3.

  • Oh, and this is really freakin’ cool news too! I’m excited for you!

  • Claudia

    I would also recommend avoiding the baby-cuisine related humor.

    I actually think that the WH is doing quite well in the visibility department in the sense that the president has contributed to raising our visibility and acceptability by his frequent nods to “people of no faith”. In that sense asking for “more of the same” would be great.

    I’m a lot less thrilled by the lack of movement on behalf of the WH to remove religion-based bullshit from public policy. Let’s be real, DADT and DOMA exist solely because of faith-based bigotry. The WH has made good noises about repealing the policies, but they sound really empty in the face of briefs relating homosexuality to incest and watching highly decorated officers CONTINUE to be dismissed because of who they love and not how they serve.

    I think it’s fantastic that the WH acknowledges the secular community, but it’s more important that they actually ACT in ways that show that government does not presume to judge people’s morality using religion as a guide.

  • Earl Newton

    Congrats! That’s something for the scrapbook, sir.

    My advice: don’t say “bomb.” Especially, and I know this is counter-intuitive, but especially in the context of, “Don’t worry, I don’t have a bomb.”

  • Ken Karp

    Don’t say negative stuff. Don’t talk about other campus groups that get funded while SSA groups don’t (it’s not their problem). Don’t talk about prejudicial treatment from campus administrations (that’s for the Justice Dept; this is Public Engagement). Don’t talk about issues they can’t do anything about. In short, don’t talk about the down side.

    DO (and this is the advice you didn’t solicit) talk about SSA growth, inclusiveness and community services. And be prepared to talk about campus political activism, if it goes there. Impress him with SSA’s vitality. Show him how SSA can be the WH’s friend.

    Research them a bit: And bring some copies of your book. You may not use them but if the conversation takes the right turn you might be glad to give them away.

    Good luck, and say Hi to Sasha!

  • Tom S

    “White House Office of Public Engagement”


    Be ready with a silly joke if things get awkward.

    Q: What happens when it rains cats and dogs?
    A: You can step in a poodle!

  • Nick

    Just hope you don’t get caught in the Giggle Loop during a serious part.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    You’re being co-opted. Be sure to tell them that the whole “faith-based initiatives” thing is a bad idea.

  • Alice
  • mikespeir

    What can this mean but a Cabinet post?

  • James

    Probably not such a great idea to make a list of things not to say. When you get to the meeting, that list will be all you can think of 🙂

  • At June 27th, 2009 at 9:22 am, Nick posted:
    Just hope you don’t get caught in the Giggle Loop during a serious part.
    But, to know OF the Giggle Loop is to be IN the Giggle Loop!

    I have too many legs!!

  • Keith


    Sounds like a cool opportunity. You should start by letting the Office of Public Engagement know that you are monitoring the phone call for quality control purposes. Good luck.

  • Ashley

    All I can say for you is “WHOoP-E!”


    I shouldn’t love horrible puns as much as I do.

  • I’d try to avoid mentioning that atheists eat raw babies. It might not go down well with some people.

    Other than that good luck and have fun.

  • Do not say, “Pull my finger.” No matter the context.

  • Carlie

    It will be the only thing you will be able to think about, and everything you say will be something from the list.

  • Rest

    Congrats! That’s wonderful news. Now I’m glad I’ve stuck to reading this blog for so many years, for now I can say I kinda, sorta know a real celebrity. Cool. 😉

    Don’t mention Canada.

  • Congratulations! That’s great news.

    Things not to say: “Is that an executive order overturning Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?”

  • I have to agree with Carlie. You should have asked what TO say. Look up the “White polar bear” psychological experiment: Sometimes the only thing you can think of is the thing you are trying to avoid thinking…

  • Stan

    Whatever you do, don’t say “figger”. Their brains will be doing backflips.

  • Amy

    This is phenomenal news! I’m doing my happy dance too.

  • Heidi


  • ursulamajor

    no matter what, do NOT say “labia”

    And no bilabial fricatives, whether the raspberry type or the other, more cheeky version.

  • Jim

    I just listened to the Infidel Guy Show last night. An interview with Mikey Weinstein from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. It was scary. Very Scary. Please talk about the MRFF’s Letter to Defense Secretary Gates

    Here’s the show

  • Rex

    Congratulations! I am looking very forward to watching your career as an advocate for reason.

    There will be very smart attractive professional females there. I am sure that any type of breast reference will be frowned upon!

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