Some follow-ups, on items previously mentioned in this space.
But first a word about Dick Clark and his New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2006. If you tuned into Clark for his predictable midnight ball drop, you were shocked: At the age of 76 the ageless wonder had aged — a victim of a stroke 13 months ago that affected both his mobility and his speech.
But Clark’s struggle may also be a bellwether of how the baby boomers will handle aging and its infirmities. Judging from various blogs, some of the boomers didn’t like what they saw and heard on New Year’s Eve. Others looked in the screen, saw themselves, and praised Clark for the courage to appear onstage in a medium that otherwise traffics in youth and discards the infirm like an old PC. Clark explained his health challenges at the beginning of the broadcast and then went on with the show. Don’t complain, don’t explain. And it was a happy ending: The show reached 20 million viewers, 2 million more than the year before.
Joe Paterno. In a column trying to describe how an editor examines an article, we invoked one of the Penn State coach’s sayings: Concentrate on the details and winning takes care of itself. Now the president of the National Organization for Women in Pennsylvania is calling for his resignation for remarks he made concerning allegations of sexual misconduct by a player from an opposing team.
Paterno’s point: That the accused player could have been exploited by a “cute girl.” Bad choice of words, of course. But in the meantime give Paterno credit for trying to keep teenaged sports stars in line: He is about the only bigtime college coach who refuses to allow players’ names on their jerseys.
The menorah controversy. Just in time for the “holidays,” we reported on the attempt of a West Windsor chabad to install a menorah in the town park, next to the town’s “holiday” tree. After some legal wrangling, the menorah was allowed. Then the Chabad tried to get a menorah installed at the West Windsor branch of the Mercer County Library. This time, according to published reports, the Mercer County executive, Brian Hughes, handled the matter. No, he said, the library was not a place for the display of such religious symbols. Okay, we can buy that, even though the library seems like a good place to display lots of different religious symbols, in the hope of building a little cultural awareness.
But how do we now explain a January 6 memorandum from the County Executive to all county employees pontificating (our word) on the meaning of the Epiphany, otherwise known as Three Kings Day? Here’s how it begins: “For many people who follow Christianity, tomorrow is an important holiday . . . The 12th day after the birth of Christ marks the arrival of the Three Kings in Bethlehem. According to Christian tradition, three kings bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh journeyed to Bethlehem to welcome the Messiah into the world.”
Hughes devoted two paragraphs to the holiday as it is celebrated by the Spanish-speaking world, making us think (cynically) that he is looking for votes in the Hispanic community. But it still sounds like something we should be hearing in church on Sunday.
Sam Alito and the Concerned Alumni. As CNN legal analyst Jeff Toobin points out, senators and the Supreme Court nominee both have reasons to avoid direct discussion of hard subjects such as abortion. So instead the opponents likely will bring up trivial subjects such as Alito’s involvement with the conservative Concerned Alumni of Princeton during the 1970s.
We offered a little historical perspective on that group in the November 23 issue of U.S. 1. Another Princeton alumnus, Stephen Dujack ‘76, took a more aggressive approach, reprising some of his anti-CAP writing in the Daily Princetonian. That column apparently caught the interest of Alito opponents, and Dujack’s name was added to the short list of those now testifyig in the Senate confirmation hearings in Washington.
Democracy in action: A freelance writer who — as far as we can tell — doesn’t know squat about the judiciary or about Alito testifying about a nominee for the nation’s highest court.
But plans have changed, according to the most recent reporting in the Princetonian. Dujack’s name was scratched after Alito supporters uncovered a column Dujack had written in 2003 in the Los Angeles Times. In the piece Dujack compared animals killed in slaughterhouses with victims of the Holocaust. In hardball Washington that kind of comparison apparently turns you into a card-carrying leftist kook — not a credible witness these days.
Dujack told the Princetonian that the 2003 article was intended to defend his late grandfather, Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, who had been an advocate of animal rights. Now, Dujack was quoted as saying, “I regret very much having written that article. It’s caused so much pain to people that I didn’t intend to, so many who suffered like my family and worse ... That’s the only thing I’ve written that I wish I could pull back. We all make mistakes sometimes.”
Maybe Dujack could have learned from Dick Clark: Don’t complain, don’t explain.