For Mark Warner, it risked being a Michael Dukakis moment.
“This is politician rule #1: You’re never supposed to wear a hat,” Sen. Warner, D-Va., said after being handed a Dr. Seuss hat that otherwise seemed sensible given what he was about to do.
And you thought banging the gavel to open and close sessions of the United States Senate was tough. Try getting a dozen preschoolers just up from their afternoon nap to sit still for 10 minutes to listen to Green Eggs and Ham.
“I, like probably most adults, grew up with Dr. Seuss. I grew up as a kid with him. I read Dr. Seuss stories to my kids when they were growing up. And so the chance to come to the Y and pick out a Dr. Seuss book – my two favorites were Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham – is big for me,” said Warner, who read to preschoolers at the Waynesboro YMCA on Friday.
For the most part, he kept the kids on task. They all raised their hand when Warner asked how many of them had ever eaten green eggs and ham. They started to figure him out when he asked if anyone had ever eaten green eggs and ham with a mouse, and by the ime he got to another question about eating on a train, well, one little girl was still playing along.
“Boy, you do a lot, don’t you?” the senator said to her.
“I think I kept the kids’ attention through most of it. One of the cool things about Dr. Seuss was not only are they great rhyming stories, not only did they help get kids to start to learn how to read, but there’s always a little bit of a message,” Warner said.
Ah, yes, the message. You had to figure that Warner had a reason for picking Green Eggs and Ham from among the Seuss favorites.
“Do you know what this story is about?” he asked the preschoolers, one of whom responded, matter of factly, “Green eggs and ham.”
“Well, yes, it’s about green eggs and ham. It’s also about the fact that sometimes when your mom or your dad gives you some food, and you say, I don’t want to like that, I don’t want to try that, you should try it, because sometimes it might be good,” Warner said.
And now the message for the rest of us.
“Green Eggs and Ham meant that sometimes you’ve got to try stuff that at first you think you might not like. Maybe i can take Green Eggs and Ham back with me to Washington and try to see if we can get the Democrats to try some of the Republican ideas, and the Republicans to try some of the Democrat ideas, and just like Dr. Seuss wrote in Green Eggs and Ham, they might actually find that they like the other guys’ ideas,” Warner said.