- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2000

No trivial joy

"So the 1960s drew to an end, a decade of wrenching turmoil in America: mindless assassinations, race riots, violent protests over the Vietnam War, sexual revolution, women's liberation, the end of segregation, and a man on the moon.

"Against this backdrop, the University of Alabama had fielded what has been acclaimed by the NCAA Record Book as the 'winningest team' of the decade. This might have seemed trivial, but it wasn't.

"Everyday life went on despite the social upheavals, and the miracle of Bear Bryant's Alabama Crimson Tide gave pleasure and satisfaction to countless millions thrilled by young men competing on Saturday afternoons for the sheer joy of sport and a chance for glory most knew would quickly fade… .

"[D]uring the 11 years remaining to Bryant at Alabama [after 1970] his teams graced the university with nine SEC championships and three national championships and went to a bowl game every single season.

"During this period, the Crimson Tide won 135 of the 155 games it played, with one tie. In short, during the 1970s Bryant and the University of Alabama simply dominated the sport of college football."

Winston Groom, from his new book, "The Crimson Tide"

Humanities du jour

"Reading a new edition of Allen Tate's collected essays is at once a stimulating and dispiriting experience. In encountering (or re-encountering) the mind behind this rich and varied collection, one catches a pleasing glimpse of the days when professors studied what they called 'man,' and did so with confidence, discipline and energy.

"The pleasure quickly evaporates, though, when one recalls the stark contrast between that state of affairs and our own day, when it has become verboten even to invoke the generic term 'man.'

"Seldom if ever have the humanities been in such slack and confused shape as they are now… .

"Too often, there seems to be a presumption that the only value of Dickens or Proust or Conrad derives from the extent to which they confirm the abstract propositions of Marx, Freud, Fanon, and the like, promote the proper political attitudes, or lend support to the identity politics du jour.

"Few in the academy admit to such reductionism, but it is everywhere massively in evidence."

Wilfred M. McClay, writing on "Defining the Humanities Up," in the January issue of First Things

'Badge of honor'

"I never considered Monica [Lewinsky] a friend… . I am not a gossip. The idea that I would cultivate this foolish young girl is offensive. I thought she was a pest… .

"I felt sorry for her. She was so very needy… . Nothing was more important to Monica than Monica… .

"Monica had a need to relive and analyze every detail of their relationship, in part to anticipate the president's behavior. And I found myself caught up in it. She considered me prudish… .

"Monica believed there was comfort in sexuality. I constantly questioned her about her history with men, saying, 'You're worth more than this.' But to Monica, sex is like inhaling and exhaling: 'I need it, I go get it.'

"It was not demeaning, because it provided her with the attention she sought. For Monica, a hug and [performing oral sex] were the same thing… .

"The dress was Monica's insurance policy, just as my [tape recordings were] mine. If she got rid of the one tangible piece of evidence that proved she was telling the truth, all hope was gone.

"Remember, with Clinton's other women, there was never actual evidence. Besides, I knew she'd never dry clean it. The stain was a badge of honor for Monica."

Linda Tripp, interviewed by Nancy Collins in the December/ January issue of George

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