12 July 1997

Marianne & I just got back a few minutes ago from seeing Bill
Clinton, President of the United States, give a speech in the 
center of Copenhagen, a few blocks away from here.  

It's been quite a folk-event: the 1st time ever an American
President in office has paid an official visit to Denmark.
There's been weeks of advance media build up, security hysteria,
etc.  Last night Air Force One (& Two--he's got TWO 747's on his
European tour) dropped into Copenhagen Airport and 200 people
popped out: SS agents, press folk, the whole circus number...and
finally Big Bill.  2000 Danish police and security folk were also 
in on the event, not to mention the entire national tv industry, 
so no matter what one's attitude was toward political posturing, 
one ended up impressed by the sheer weight of people and 
technology and large machines in action. 

All of this got total tv coverage, much more than it would get 
in the States, so all of Denmark watched him shake hands with 
Crown Prince Frederick and the politically famous Danes, then saw
him helicoptered off to the Queen's summer residence in 
Fredensborg (about 50 km north) where there was a gala evening 

Every channel ran the event live...but not all Danes were so 
eager for such total tv coverage, because Bill Whatsisname was 
interrupting SPORTS coverage right in the middle of le Tour de 
France, even as Denmark's very own bicycle hero Bjarne Riis (who 
WON the race last year!) was battling his way through the 
Pyrennies, among the leading 3 riders.  There were a few 
indignant protests that precious moments of Denmark's sports 
history were being lost because of some trivial political 
tomfoolery.  (Actually, they could just switch over to Swedish 

So Danish Television Land even got to see the entire thundering 
half-hour helicoptor flight of the President's squadron of battle
-ready choppers through the glorious colors of the scandinavian 
midsummer sunset; a visual bonus for the TV audience, it was all 

And today, Saturday, he gave a speech to the Danish people where
Strøget (the walking street) runs into an open square.  So the
town was filled up with people trying to get a little peek, us
among them.  We couldn't get closer than 200 meters, but there
were giant TV monitors stationed around the area, so we could see
it all on screen anyway.  We could also have seen it at home, 
but it was a nice summer day, the streets were just absolutely 
full of happy people interested in taking part in this social 
event, so there was a fun atmosphere to it all.  

Ok, there were some quite small demonstrations against the visit, one must remember that not everyone is enthusiastic about "American Imperialism", but most Danes have a friendly attitude towards Americans, even if they don't like all that the USA represents. Anyway, Bill did good, it was a nice speech: he was quite charming, told some jokes, thanked Denmark for their contributions toward the unification of Europe and human rights efforts, etc, shook hands with people in the crowd. Everybody liked the guy, it was a good show. ...right now the TV is covering his departure, Air Force One is ligning up on the runway and he's off to Washington DC... Which means that Denmark can get back to that much more important even happening here: le Tour de France. ...aha! Clinton's just taken off, and look at the tv: the screen is suddenly now full of ferocious bicyclists... So everything's back to normal now: the Tour, Jazz Festival, summer in Copenhagen. Whee.