- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 5, 2000

Man and the myth

"Like so many of the titanic heroes of rock 'n' roll, Johnny Cash is a glorious mess of contradictions.

"The wild drugs and debauchery of Saturday night and in Cash's case, pretty much every other night, too have fought vigorously for his soul against the powerful Christian conviction of Sunday morning.

"Cash is the Man in Black, the noble outlaw, a fearsome figure whose Mt. Rushmore face, piercing dark eyes and uproarious excesses helped make him one of the more combustible ingredients in the critical mass that exploded in Memphis in the mid-'50s.

"In early songs like 'I Walk the Line' and 'Big River,' he articulated a fierce vision of what country music and its bastard child, rock 'n' roll could be… .

"While he was making that groundbreaking music, Cash was also inventing what would soon become the myth of Johnny Cash. It is a larger-than-life persona that has had at least as much impact and influence as the music itself… .

"The darker, uncontrolled side of Cash has drawn generations of fans to him… . He is, after all, the man who, in 'Folsom Prison Blues,' sang, 'I shot a man in Reno/Just to watch him die' in 1955, decades before gangsta rap was born."

Anthony DeCurtis, writing on "Johnny Cash Won't Back Down," in the Oct. 26 issue of Rolling Stone

A rare breed

"Nationwide, a handful of pro-life Democrats are running for seats in the House and Senate.

"They're a rare breed in a party that defends the right to kill babies right up until complete birth, but they remain hopeful that their colleagues will come around one day …

"In northern Pennsylvania, Pat Casey, the 32-year-old son of the former governor, came within 500 votes [in 1998] of taking another traditionally Republican seat. It was the closest race in the country that year, and when it came to the abortion question, Mr. Casey ran to the right of his Republican opponent, Don Sherwood.

"He's back for a re-match this year, in what is being touted as one of the closest races in the country.

"And he's not alone. Of the 50 top races this year, pro-life Democrats are contesting perhaps one-fifth, according to Bob Doyle of Sutter's Mill Fundraising and Strategy, a Washington consulting firm. 'More than ever, Democrats are successfully recruiting pro-life candidates who match their districts,' he explains. 'Being in the minority has an excellent way of inspiring inclusion.' "

Bob Jones IV, writing "Marching to the beat of a different drummer?" in the Sept. 30 issue of World

Singer and the Senator

"A couple of weeks ago, Bono, the lead singer of U2, visited Jesse Helms, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and pressed him to approve the Clinton administration's budget request, made earlier this year, for $435 million to help write off debt in poor countries.

"Bono, who these days seems to spend as much time campaigning for debt relief as he does strutting around the stage with [U2 guitarist] the Edge he also popped up in Prague last week, at the meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and described how, in much of sub-Saharan Africa, up to half of the children are malnourished and one in five dies before the age of 5.

"Helms, whose enthusiasm for mononymic rock stars has hitherto passed unremarked, was so overcome by Bono's presentation that tears ran down his cheeks, and he was heard to utter, as a member of Bono's entourage subsequently recalled, 'You can have your $435 million. You can have more.' …

"Thanks, in part, to Bono and other celebrities who drew attention to the issue, last year the governments of the creditor nations finally came up with a plan to write off some debts, with the money saved going to poverty-reduction programs."

John Cassidy, writing on "They Are the World," in the Oct. 9 issue of the New Yorker

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