- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

‘Strenuous life’

“The most obvious feature of Theodore Roosevelt’s life and thought is the one least celebrated today, his manliness. Somehow America in the [20th] century went from the explosion of assertive manliness that was TR to the sensitive males of our time who shall be and deserve to be nameless. …

“A New Yorker by birth, he went to the Wild West, and became a Westerner by deliberate intent, or sheer willpower. He became a cowboy by impressing the other cowboys, a loner among loners certified with their stamp of approval. …

“He liked to speak of ‘the strenuous life’ lived outdoors and testing oneself in situations of challenge and risk. …

“TR is at his most emphatic in urging a man to enter politics. … Politics is struggle, and ‘it is sheer unmanliness and cowardice to shrink from the contest.’”

Harvey Mansfield, writing on “The manliness of Theodore Roosevelt,” in the March issue of the New Criterion

TV panic

“No matter how many times Americans are told that our kids watch a lot of TV, each new study provokes a renewed bout of hysterical hand-wringing on the subject. But this week, the good folks at the Kaiser Family Foundation managed to raise our collective anxiety to new heights with the news that not only are kids glued to the telly, they’re combining their tube time with all other manner of ‘new media.’ …

“Today’s media-savvy youth prefer to juggle three or four tasks at once: instant-messaging friends while watching a movie; text-messaging with cell phones while listening to the radio; or, for the truly committed multitasker, chatting on the phone while listening to tunes and playing video games. …

“[F]retful parents everywhere naturally begin to fantasize about all of the more productive/healthful/wholesome activities that Janie and Jack would surely pursue if only there were no such thing as computers, Game Boys, TVs, cell phones, radios, etc. Studying, practicing the piano, helping around the house, composing haiku — no one knows for sure what sort of fabulousness our kids would be capable of if only they weren’t such tragic media slaves.”

Michelle Cottle, writing on “Media Glare,” March 11 in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

‘Flat-out dumb’

“When Dan was a fledgling White House reporter, it was noted in the book ‘The Boys On the Bus’ that ‘Rather would go with an item even if he didn’t have it completely nailed down with verifiable facts. If a rumor sounded solid to him … he would let it rip. The other White House reporters hated Rather for this.’ … The first time CBS considered firing him was when he insulted President Nixon on national TV. …

“President Nixon had just recognized an ABC reporter at a 1974 press conference, but the guy barely got his mouth open before Rather butted in and boomed: ‘Thank you, Mr. President. Dan Rather of CBS News. Mr. President … with respect.’

“Reporters booed Rather’s brazen interruption. Nixon said jokingly, ‘Are you running for something?’ Snapped Rather, ‘No, Mr. President, are you?’ The crowd gasped. Rather’s crack was beyond rude, it was downright pugnacious, disrespectful, and flat-out dumb. … [A]fter their White House correspondent sassed the president, CBS execs asked, ‘Should we fire the SOB?’ … But Dan survived. He was all CBS had to replace Walter Cronkite.”

— Mike Walker, author of “Rather Dumb,” interviewed by Kathryn Jean Lopez, March 9 in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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