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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Some Things Only Change for the Worse!

I have listened, disgusted, as people try to make it a moral obligation for the Vice President or the White House to placate the press corps and baby them along, telling them everything they may want to know immediately. It reinforces my feeling that we've made public servants, from Supreme Court Justices to chiefs of police, people who are expected to stand and take it as ignorant fools dump abuse on them. How can we ever get good people to run for high office today?

I like to think there was a kinder, gentler day. I know there was not. I've been reading The Battles of Peace by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas from 1921 through 1924. Listen to his retrospective on the experience:
To reach the Governor’s office I was forced to wade through three campaigns of slime and slander. The leading candidate in a heated campaign always has this to do. No one has anything mean to say about the candidate bringing up the rear. During my campaign, nothing was too false to be told on me, and nothing in my life sacred enough to escape violence. Fabrications, some colored with the tinge of truth, and others without any foundation whatever, were fanned into flames by unscrupulous persons, and were exploited as real facts, until honest people were made to believe them. If I were to live a thousand years, and drink the virtues of a thousand lives, I could not redeem with a number of honest, sincere people, the good name which for years as a public citizen I had sought to build. My name would not have been sullied by false tongues nor made the target for poisoned arrows without number, had I not sought the office of Governor. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” The good name which I had some reason to believe I possessed when I announced for Governor, was not for sale at any price. I prized it above any office within the gift of the people. My loss in this respect is largely irreparable. After the feathers of falsehood have been scattered to the four winds, it is impossible to pick them up. A falsehood, it has been said, travels around the world while truth is putting on her slippers, getting ready to start.

To illustrate: one newspaper writer covered a whole page of a newspaper with an article about me in which there was not even one true statement; yet the paper was circulated throughout the State, and many good people read the article, and believed it. The writer of this article was later prosecuted as a plain, common, every-day liar, and the jury before whom he was tried found that there was no truth in any of his assertions, and assessed against him the highest penalty under the law for libel. It is probable that not ten per cent of those who read the article and believed it true ever heard of the conviction of the writer for libel. An occurrence of this kind is the natural penalty that one pays who makes an aggressive and successful campaign for the high office of Governor.

May God bless us and cure our insanity!

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