Jewish World Review April 13, 2012/ 21 Nissan, 5772
Pomp and circumstance
By Paul Greenberg
It'll be quite a ceremony -- you could even call it a spectacle -- at
It's a perfect pairing when you think about it. For it was
Now the duo share billing again. It'll be like the old days. Only this time recollected in tranquility. It's as if the actors were to stage a reunion long after the curtain had fallen on a farce.
To put it as plain as only folk wisdom can, one hand washes the other -- as sure as night follows day, celebration acquittal, and academic honors high office.
There'll be no need to go into any inconvenient details on this auspicious occasion. They say a good memory is a great asset, but it's nothing compared to the advantages of a good forgettery.
O Mencken! Thou shouldst be living at this hour! The mutual flattery should be hip deep, and the speechifying grandiloquent -- a many-splendored thing. Also, a grand exercise in historical amnesia, political discretion and general vapidity of the highest order.
What is said may not be memorable -- the speaker, after all, will be
There is a kind of genius in knowing just what not to say on such occasions. Both honorees showed a real talent for it in the course of their long and distinguished political careers. See the former president's testimony under oath, and his able counsel's folksy defense of it.
Sen. Bumpers chose to close out his distinguished 24-year career in the
"The only time this country ever gets into trouble is when there is some so-and-so in the
The quote turned out to be an unfortunate choice, and the senator's timing even more so. For that was just before Mr. Bumpers would return to the
The big problem with that selective approach to truth is that, once truth has been declared expendable where one subject is concerned, the truth about anything else becomes contingent on whether it suits our political purposes, too. And we are left unmoored.
The quotation from
When the omission in the official record was noted, it was blamed on somebody else. Some unidentified underling on the senator's staff must have dunnit.
Could it have been the senator himself who'd erased the quote from his speech? Oh, no, it had gone missing when "some staff member was cleaning it up," explained the Honorable Dale Bumpers.
The senator's loyal staff backed him up: He'd had no role in the deletion, they claimed. The senator hadn't even known about the omission. Case closed. The usual anonymous suspect had been rounded up. All was in order.
Ten years passed in the usual blur. The body had been buried, the questions interred. Any doubts lay a-molderin' in the grave. But somewhere deep, conscience must have stirred. Because that's when
Some of us had suspected as much, though I for one wasn't about to say so -- not without a confession. Or at least a semi-confession like this one. Call it a hang-up from a brief, inglorious stint as a court reporter for the estimable Columbia Missourian in
All of us journalism students at Mizzou were assigned beats on the local paper so we could learn the trade under the watchful eyes of veteran editors. They taught us not to leap to conclusions -- and that you never, ever fiddle with a direct quote. It was a useful lesson.
Some of us still miss
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