Two former office-holders from different countries who have known triumph and defeat came together two weeks ago, with a little help from HUMAN EVENTS.
Former Rep. (1994-96) Steve Stockman (R.-Tex, pictured at the left), who has just joined the Arlington, VA.-based Leadership Institute, held a meeting with Simeon Saxe Coburg Gotha (right), until recently prime minister of Bulgaria. But he is best-known throughout the world as Simeon II, the last King of Bulgaria until the Communists enslaved his country in 1946 and oversaw a nationwide plebiscite in which more than 95% of the voters chose to abolish the 1,300-year-old monarchy.
The vote, widely regarded as a fraud, forced child-monarch Simeon and his mother and sister into decades of exile. Over the years, he earned a master’s degree in business, mastered eight languages, and became a highly successful international investment banker. Greeted by more than one million Bulgarians when he returned to his native country after the fall of the Communist regime, Simeon eventually formed his own political party and, in 2001, became prime minister after the new "Movement for Simeon II" won a majority in parliamentary elections. Earlier this year, Simeon and his Movement placed second in elections and he thus left the premiership.
Like Simeon, Steve Stockman is someone who overcame adversity to achieve political success against the odds. A onetime homeless person who got his life in order through Christian faith and conservative politics, Stockman made it to Congress on his third try in 1994. His election made national news because he unseated one of the most powerful of House Democrats, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jack Brooks. After two years and an unyielding conservative voting record, Stockman was defeated for a second term. However, he remains a popular figure among Lone Star State conservatives.
Earlier this month, when Stockman told me he was going to visit a friend in Sofia (the capital of Bulgaria), I recalled to him how I interviewed the former King over breakfast during his ’02 trip to Washington. Following the recent defeat of his Movement, Simeon and I corresponded. As we discussed their common conservatism, Stockman said he wanted to meet Simeon. A subsequent e-mail to his office and a telephone call by Stockman upon arriving in Bulgaria made possible the session between the former congressman and the former king–two leaders who have tasted the ups-and-downs of politics and have not let the downs discourage either of their political passions.