- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2004

Fame games

“The performers and celebrities who will appear at the RNC certainly sound famous — they have Grammys and awards and huge followings, apparently — but they aren’t, quite.

“At least when compared to Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio and the rest of the famous crowd that swanned around Boston during the Democratic National Convention. … Put it this way: There are two kinds of people in the world, famous people, and people you have to Google. Republicans have a lot of the latter and only a few of the former.

“I’m not really sure why Republicans even bother to compete. I mean, why go to the trouble to trot out your Bo Dereks or your Robert Davis, when there’s not much cachet to either name? (And anyway, who is Robert Davis again? I’ll pause briefly while you Google him.) After all, the whole point of a political convention is to shine the bright light of fame on the nominee, not the movie star listening to the nominee. The least interesting person at the Democratic National Convention last month was the nominee himself, and he’s the most likely, 12 months from now, to end up being the least famous, too. … Hanging out with P. Diddy or Leo or Ben or Barbra doesn’t make John Kerry seem more electric or attractive. … It makes him seem stiffer, weirder, creepier than he already appears.”

Rob Long, writing on “Almost Famous,” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

Braggarts and heroes

“Real heroes don’t call themselves heroes. Honorable soldiers or sailors don’t brag. They let their deeds speak for themselves. Some of the most off-putting words any veteran can utter are ‘I’m a war hero.’

“Real heroes (and I’ve been honored to know some) never portray their service in grandiose terms, telling TV cameras that they’re reporting for duty. Real heroes may be proud of the sacrifices they offered, but they don’t shout for attention.

“This is so profoundly a part of the military code of behavior that it cannot be over-emphasized. The rule is that those who brag about being heroes usually aren’t heroes at all. Bragging is for drunks at the end of the bar, not for real vets. And certainly not for anyone who wishes to trade on his service to become our commander in chief.”

Ralph Peters, writing on “Heroes Don’t Shout,” Tuesday in the New York Post

‘Dominant figure’

“The flags across the country are no longer flying at half-staff in tribute to the late President Ronald Reagan, but I still find myself telling friends at dinner about his state funeral. …

“Since the president was 93 years old and had been ill with Alzheimer’s disease for a decade, his death did not come as a shock to the nation, as Lincoln’s or Kennedy’s had. There was no over weeping. There was simply a pervasive sense of sadness for the passing of a two-term president whom almost everybody, Democrat or Republican, had genuinely liked. The amazing story of his life … is a unique, only-in-America kind of saga. … I didn’t agree with a lot of the things Ronald Reagan stood for, but I was never unaware that he was a kind and good man … a man who believed that being an American was a cherished, never-ending honor. Over the years, I was in a lot of dining rooms when the Reagans were present, and he was always the dominant figure, gallant to the ladies, approachable and affable to the guys.”

Dominick Dunne, writing on “The Reagan Touch,” in the September issue of Vanity Fair

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