By: Benjamin J. Stein

American Spectator

July/August 2007


H ERE I AM IN WASHINGT0N, D. C. Today was a busy day . (“Tomorrow, Lords, is a busy day.” Who knows what play that’s from? I think it’s Richard III. Am I right?)

I got up in my apartment at the Watergate, prayed for a long time for my dearest friend, Al Burton, who’s got some medical problems, for our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, for their families, for everyone who has ever served this great country in war and peace, and then I got dressed and headed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. My cab got stuck in traffic at George Washington University. I got out and walked many blocks to 16th and H where the C of C is.

So many MEMORIES!!!

There’s Munson Hall at GW, where wifey and I lived when she was in law school at GW and I was a poor miserable bureaucrat and a happy, happy teacher at American University. What times I had there. You cannot imagine. But I was a drug addict and that would eventually come back to bite me. Then it would save me when I joined a 12-step program.

Past a hideous office building where the Circle Theater used to be. What great movies they showed there. The Honeymoon Killers. That was the very most frightening one. But so many others and always cheap and great popcorn. I can remember I went there once when I was on some evil drug (always prescribed by my doctors) that was making me nuts . I came close to pulling a gun on someone there. Yes, that’s how nutty prescription medicine can make you.

I was with my girlfriend, Pat, and she saved me by walking out and I went with her as some man never knew how close he came to getting shot and how close I came to throwing away my life.

Then, speaking of Pat, past the main IMF building where, I assume, she works at a job my mother and father got her in 1975. Maybe she’s retired now. Pat has not spoken to me since 1976, because she is so mad that I misbehaved towards her. I don’t really blame her at all. She did me a huge favor by talking me into getting a Weimaraner dog named Mary back in 1972. That truly changed my life for the better. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. Dogs are our best friends. Anyway, I still love Pat because of the dog thing . If she knew the way I love my dogs, she would be touched, or maybe not.

Then past 1729 H Street, where the Committee for Economic Development had its research office, of which my Pop was director, in the mid-1950s. I was an office boy there, I think. Or maybe it was later when they moved to 1000 Connecticut Avenue.

Memories. I was so proud of my Pop. I thought no one on this earth was smarter. I still think that. I wonder, though, how many Jews just as smart and kind as my father were murdered by Hitler . Quite a few.

Then to the Chamber of Commerce. I spoke to a group of donors to TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors . It provides counseling and love and meetings and prayer and comradeship for widows, widowers, orphans, and parents of those killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in training. It doesn’t really matter what I said. They are super great people and I love and worship them. Bonnie, the head of TAPS, should be president.

As I walked farther east on H Street, I could not help but think about something: Why are we in Iraq? Most Iraqis don’t want us there . Most Americans don’t want us there . We are clearly not winning and we may well be losing. Why the heck are we still there? Or, to put it another way, why did we go into a war we did not intend to win or put enough resources behind to win?

We are just not bruta l enough to win that war and the killers know it. You have to firebomb cities, kill whole towns, mow down whole families to win this kind of war. This is not what we are up to nowadays. So, let’s just leave and let them sort it out.

If Bush is the only one who still wants the war, but won’t do what it takes to win it, we’re in real serious trouble. This does not sound or smell like constitutional government to me . However , I may be all wrong.

On to a studio to record my little commentary for “Marketplace,” a very successful radio show about money, business, economics, so finance, . As far as I can tell, I don’t get paid for it. That’s a good business model for them but not so great for me.

I finished and the producer told me he had been a friend and colleague of my father’s when he was a young man . That’s another reason I love D.C. I keep running into people who knew my Pop . I’ve been in L.A. now for 31 years and know far fewer people there than I did when I moved there in June of 1976.

I have almost no friends in L.A. at all. I have more friends in the desert than I do in Malibu and we’ve had a home there for almost 30 years off and on. L.A is not, repeat not, a friendly town.

I walked from 13th and H to the Brooks Brothers at Rhode Island and Connecticut Avenue. On the way, I passed the American Enterprise Institute. That really brought up some memories. How many dozens of times did I walk over there to have lunch with Pop and Dr. Fellner and Allen Wallis and Murray Foss, and now only Murray is left . My darling Victoria Sackett, who used to work there on AEI’s great magazine, is also now working somewhere else. I haven’t seen her in years. She is lucky she does not live in L.A . She has a really good character. She would not last a day here.

I bought shirts at B B, then went to McDonald’s to buy a salad and had my usual thoughts about Mickey D’s. How can it be so consistently great? As a nonstop traveler, I am subjected to terrifying garbage masquerading as gourmet food. Almost always, the best meal I get anywhere is at McDonald’s. It is just a miracle that their cheeseburgers, Big Macs, apple pies, and salads can be so consistently great. What magic do they have? I love almost all fast food, but McDonald’s is a true miracle.

Then, along L Street and up to Washington Circle, and then fell into step with a beautiful red-haired co-ed from GWU. I wish I could remember her name . She was so young and lithe and beautiful and I am so old and fat and foolish . Oh, well. The great pleasure of walking in D.C. is meeting young, pretty girls and then never seeing them again.

Then, down to the Watergate to get my hair cut.     I sat down in the chair, the same chair my father used to get his hair cut in for so many years. I picked up the Washington Post. What’s this? An obituary for Milt Grant? Yes, that’s what it is. Milt was host of a local dance show called “Mil t Grant’s Dance Party.” It was like American Bandstand , but local. My sister was on it. So was Carl Bernstein, my next-door neighbor. and so was my old friend, Ronnie Oberman. I loved to watch it on Channel 5. Then, a mere 45 years ago or so, it was canceled.

Milt went on to great wealth as a TV station owner, and then I guess he went bankrupt. How sad. Now, he’s dead. Well, we’ll all meet again at that great dance party in the sky.

Then, a long nap, and then off to dinner at Karl Rove’s house with my pal Aram Bakshian . I cannot disclose what we talked about except to say that Karl is a genius at imitating accents. A real star. I think he has a future in that.

After dinner, a ride to the Hay-Adams with Aram, who is very upbeat about the GOP and the war. I don’t see it, but Aram is a lot smarter than I am, so he is probably right and Jam probably wrong. I see the war as an unmitigated disaster. But I may be wrong. (I’m not , though.)

Then, a walk into Georgetown to see the sights of young girls. Alas, there were none . I went to see a movie called Blades of Glory . It was a satire about ice skating and very funny. I love Will Ferrell. It was really, really funny.

Then, to bed, lying in my bed at the Watergate, listening to the silence. I am happy.

* * * * * * * * *

IT’S ACTUALLY A LOT MORE than just five days later.

Since that last entry, I have been to Boston (great hotel, the Boston Harbor, great audience. Bentley College), to D.C. again, mostly to rest, to Detroit, great group, ORT, a Jewish good works group, all of whom I loved to pieces. The women were so much cleverer than the men, it was almost eerie. While I was in Detroit, I went to the Holocaust Museum there. Amazingly, one of the exhibits was about a scientist named Herbert Stein and all of the bad things that happened to him. It was a powerful, terrifying museum. As always, it made me cry. I just want to spend my whole life thanking God for being in America. That’s all, just for being in America.



Volume 40. Number 6. (Pgs. 62 -.63.)

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