Thursday, September 13, 2007

Personal Asides: Don Rose Becomes a Regular Political Columnist for The Chicago Daily Observer…To “The Observer’s Conservative Readers”…Now on this Matter of My Accurate Reporting of Humphrey-McCarthy Dialogues.


Don Rose.

With today’s issue ( Don Rose becomes a regular columnist for The Chicago Daily Observer. While Don and I have been frequent sparring mates in the past and never agreed on a major issue, I welcome him to this Internet five-day-a-week newspaper because his views are fresh and insightful (as well as inciteful to conservatives!).

Today he begins a series on all the presidential candidates, starting with the Democrats (today he reviews Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton) and proceeding to the Republicans.

His pedigree is terrific. He’s an independent political consultant (who will not write about any client he may have). I first heard of him when he was the press secretary for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for King’s Chicago campaign (and I was at Quaker Oats). He is the genius…and I say it advisedly…who steered Jane Byrne to mayoral victory over Mike Bilandic (and is not responsible for the zany turns she took later: as a matter of fact had she listened to Don, she’d have been reelected). His clients included Mayor Harold Washington, Sen. Paul Simon (D-IL), Seymour Simon, the former president of the Cook county board, alderman and state supreme court justice; Republican state’s attorney Bernard Carey, many congressmen and municipal officers. He has been an on-air commentator for WLS-TV and WTTW-TV, hosted a weekly community affairs talk show for 22 years, edited the “Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices,” has been a frequent guest on network as well as local television and radio programs.

As if this were not sufficient, he has been a food and travel writer, having published a weekly dining-out column in the “Sun-Times” for 16 years and comments frequently on jazz and the arts.

To the “Observer’s Conservative Readers.”

To such conservative readers of “The Observer”…and I count myself one…who believe that the paper’s pristine rightist stance will be compromised by Don Rose’s contributions, I will tell you three things. First, you deserve to hear ideas that challenge your own so that thereby you will be enabled to think your propositions through…second you and the city deserve to hear the opinions of a man who has played an enormously effective role in Chicago history…and three you should be mollified by recalling that thus far we have published such conservative views as from (in addition to President John Powers and me):

Bruno Behrend, Jeff Berkowitz, . James Bowman, Dennis Byrne, Richard Caro, Christopher Check, Robert Costello, John Curry, State Rep. Jim Durkin, Dr. Tom Fleming. Dr. Donald Haider, Betsy Hart, Mike Hoolihan, Pat Hickey. Dan Kelley.Mary Laney, Jim Leahy. Rich Lindberg, Joe Novak, Teri O’Brien. Frank Penn. Scott Richert, Thomas J. Roeser, Otto Engineering; Brad Hahn, Deborah Rowe, Dr. Paul Riel, Cal Skinner, Russ Stewart, Marie T. (Terry) Sullivan, John Tsarpalas.

Moderate viewpoints from Dr. Paul Green and a liberal view from Mike Noonan.

So I think you will agree we’re fair and balanced with the addition of Don Rose. We welcome him at The Observer today. And we will have other views from Don Rose’s quarter—enough to provide seasoning and leaven to your daily political repast let us say.

On This Matter of Humphrey-McCarthy Dialogue.

Speaking (as we did earlier) of Dr. Paul Green, my esteemed friend, former employer at Roosevelt University and major domo of The City Club of Chicago, he mentioned yesterday…with a whiff of Green-nuanced satire…that he finds it marvelous that I can remember exact quotations from fifty years ago between the two men who ran for president whom I knew best—Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy. He left the onus hanging that possibly I am in the business of inventing this dialogue. I hope he didn’t mean it for I would take umbrage. Nor is it reasonable to assume I would have any interest in doing so. The matters they shared are all moot. Yet it is disconcerting to be so publicly doubted by a man who influential as you are, Doctor.

So to you, I say: Doctor, the greatest biographer in the English language, a man whose sandals I am unfitted to loosen, was James Boswell (1740-1795). He wrote the landmark biography of Dr. Samuel Johnson which was published in 1791, seven years after Dr. Johnson’s death in 1784. The book begins, as such an eminent scholar as yourself will recall, Doctor, with their first conversation on May 16, 1763 where Boswell began with this:

“Mr. Johnson, I do indeed come from Scotland but I cannot help it.”

Johnson: “That, Sir, I find, is what a very great many of your countrymen cannot help.”

I do not find it common that people have questioned the authenticity of Boswell’s reminiscences of Dr. Johnson—although you may, sir. But you would not find much company in this.

Nor would you find many who disagree that the diaries of Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) were invented since historians use them to learn much about the Great Plague of London, the Second Dutch War and the Great Fire of London. On January 1, 1660 he began the diary and it is noted by Pepys scholars that he wrote it without going back, without re-writing it as it were. At his death his executors found six volumes laid out in shorthand called Tachygraphy. Scholars refer to the volumes as priceless and recorded with “breathtaking honesty.” So far as I am aware no serious critic has even imagined that he invented them. Historians rely on him almost exclusively since he had a first-hand view of the restoration of the monarchy. Nor did the leading Pepys scholar Arthur Bryant recall that Pepys conducted his meetings with such figures as King Charles II (whose secretary he was in affairs of the Admiralty) by scribbling notes as the King spoke.

You might also recall as a scholar of Biblical history, that the gospels were probably written before the year A. D. 70, that we have good reason to assume that they were written by the disciples of Christ Himself. At least in Biblical scholarship their authenticity has rarely been questioned nor the accuracy of their quotations. And while no sacrilege is intended, my authenticity is better than Mark’s or Luke’s who were not an eyewitness to events in Christ’s life (as I was of Humphrey’s and McCarthy’s). It is commonly held that Matthew was first written by the apostle of the same name but even here it was written down between A. D. 40 and 140.

Mark was a disciple of Peter and it was Peter who informed Mark and guided him in writing the gospel that goes under his name. Indeed, the historian “Papias claimed that Mark, the Evangelist who had never heard of Christ, was the interpreter of Peter and that he carefully gave an account of everything he remembered from the teaching of Peter.” Mark was author of the earliest gospel between A. D. 55 and A. D. 70.

Nor was Luke an eyewitness of Christ but a companion of Paul who also was not an eyewitness. But both had ample opportunity to meet disciples who knew Christ and learn facts from them and others in the area.

John, as we know, was an eyewitness of Christ. His words were transmitted from the 80s to the 90s.

I say this to assure Dr. Green that my memory…even for one in the latter stages of decrepitude…is extraordinarily sharp. However if you are in doubt of my veracity, my dear Doctor, I will of course excuse you from reading these words—which are intended for my children and their children.

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