Politics With Eyes Open

I am a Liberal, with a capital L, but that doesn't mean I don't like and appreciate a good Conservative when she is both intelligent and well spoken. Tonight, I came upon a 1996 interview on C-Span's Booknotes TV program, where Brian Lamb was interviewing this young woman. At first, I thought she was Ann Coulter, because of the pretty look and the pretty long blond hair, but she sounded so well spoken and likable and I generally find Coulter to be repugnant, so I was pretty sure it wasn't Coulter, but who, then? As I watched the interview, it became apparent that it was Monica Crowley, a name not at all familiar Monica Crowleyto me, though something about her did look familiar. She wrote a book about Richard M. Nixon, called, Nixon, Off the Record: His Candid commentary on People and Politics.. I was intrigued. Though, Crowley was obviously fond of Nixon, seeing him as a very nice man, particularly nice to her, and respected him for what she saw as his brilliance and perseverance, she also came across to me to have written this book without inserting her personal political bent, whatever that might be. Of course, Crowley was only 21, when she was hired right out of college by Nixon as a Research Assistant. Crowley explained how she had written Nixon a letter and he sent her a hand written letter in response and invited her to visit him in his Bergen County, New Jersey office (Crowley was raised in Warren, NJ) and then offered her a job shortly after the visit. Monica worked for Nixon from 1990 until 1994, when Nixon died. She had obviously become as much a confidante, as a research assistant to Nixon. Besides for helping him write speeches, and eventually assisting him in writing his last two books, she always had a pad with her whenever she was in Nixon's presence and she took notes in short hand, which she'd expand upon later in the day, so as to not forget exactly what he had said and at the end of the day, she'd write a complete transcription in her diary of what Nixon had discussed with her on that day. Needless to say, in the four years she spent with Richard M. Nixon, she compiled quite a long diary, from minutia to monumental of what was on Nixon's mind and came out of his mouth. From these writings, she put together the book about Nixon, revealed mostly from his own words.  I found the interview to be fascinating, even thinking that perhaps I would choose this book when my turn came up in Book Club. I still think I might.

The interview was from September, 1996, somewhat more than 14 years ago. At the interview's end, Crowley mentioned she was, at that point, working on her PhD. So, I wondered what Monica Crowley had been up to since then, and I did a little snooping around the Internet. I found to my discomfort, that it was she that I'd seen occasionally on The McLaughlin Group (now I understood why she'd seemed a bit familiar to me), when it used to be on NBC, after Meet The Press. She represented the Conservative viewpoint as opposed to Eleanor Clift's more Liberal one. Worse, she is a regular contributor on Fox. I guess if I dug even deeper, I might find more stuff about her that would turn me against her. Or maybe not. Perhaps, she really is one of the "good" conservatives, who values intelligence and thoughtfulness over overt ideology at all costs. I'm going to stop investigating. I'm going to let myself go on with that belief. I am sure to hear her name come up in various settings, now that I saw that interview and wrote this post. Serendipity or Synchronicity will see to that!


America's Movie Critic is Back!

America's movie critic is back and I didn't even know he'd been gone. As so frequently is the case, I get a great deal of information and even more inspiration from the CBS TV program, Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. I tape it each week, just in case I'm not up at 9 AM and watch it sometime later. To my great surprise, shock and horror, I came to find out that Roger Ebert is not the man he once was. That is to say, as a consequence of  thyroid and later salivary gland cancer, Rogert Ebert  looks nothing like himself and he is non-verbal. Besides for having had a tracheotomy, half of his face has been removed. It is uncomfortable for me to admit this, but I found it difficult to look at him, perhaps because it was such a shock. I absolutely had no idea. Having said that, here is a quote that counters my immediate response. In April 2007, in an interview with  WLS-TV in Chicago, he said, "I was told photos of me in this condition would attract the gossip papers — so what?" On April 23, the Sun-Times reported that, when asked about his decision to return to the limelight, Ebert remarked, "We spend too much time hiding illness." Fans at his website have remarked his public appearances have been inspirational to cancer victims and survivors around the country. 

Roger Ebert and his wife of 18 years, a trial attorney, Charlie "Chaz" Hammel-Smith. Though he no longer can eat by mouth, he loves to cook. In the "Sunday Morning" interview, it was stated and evident that it is this relationship that has given Ebert the strength to go on.

I have been going to Ebert's  website, rogerebert.com for a very long time, to get his review of movies before, and sometimes after, seeing them. In fact, just last Friday (New Years Eve), I was perusing his blog for a review of the movie, Black SwanAs for a review of Black Swan, that's for another entry (or not). I often agree with Ebert's reviews and just as often appreciate how he writes and what he chooses to discuss in them. Truth be told, when I went to this site, I though I was reading the film review column from the Chicago Sun-Times, not a blog. I can, of course remember watching Roger Ebert's TV program, "At the Movies" with Gene Siskel (I just found out that he co-hosted two programs with Siskel for a combined 23 years) and perhaps once or twice after Siskel's death, I may have watched Ebert co-host with Richard Roeper. But, I have known Roger Ebert best from reading his reviews. I was not completely aware that he had not been on television for over four years. He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in early 2002. He had surgery and then in 2003, more surgery for salivary gland cancer, followed by radiation therapy, and in 2006 more surgery, which removed part of his jaw. He continued to have related health problems. But, he also continued reviewing movies and I continued to read them, knowing nothing about his health status and how this had affected his life. 

 Live and Learn!