I’m indebted to Stephen Colbert, actually we all are, for putting into context the ascension of Josh Earnest to White House press secretary this week. Speaking last Thursday with Earnest’s predecessor, Jay Carney, Colbert noted that Josh Earnest had the perfect name for the job. “His name literally means ‘just kidding, but seriously,’” said Colbert.
I’ve been to Washington dozens of times but stepped inside the White House only once. I enjoyed a visit most do not experience. As a graduate journalism student in pre-Watergate early 1972, I gained entry to the West Wing and the press office as part of my research for a paper on pack journalism. I interviewed several White House correspondents including Peter Lisagor of the Chicago Daily News and Robert Pierpoint of CBS. I had hoped to meet with Richard Nixon’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, but he passed me off to one of his assistants whose name is lost to me and history. Years later Ziegler’s and my paths crossed again—Ziegler was head of the chain drug store association and I attended conferences he presented.
The White House press room was rather drab back then. The offices of Ziegler’s staff also did not compare favorably to the more elaborate Hollywood versions we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on The West Wing and other portrayals of the seat of power of our government.
I doubt I’ll ever gain entry to the press room again but it’s nice to recall walking through the gate on Pennsylvania Avenue up the circular driveway to the White House and going where relatively few have gone before and after. As I wrote once before, I even had the “pleasure” of getting a presidential wave from none other than Nixon himself. As I was leaving the White House Nixon was walking back from the next door Executive Office Building. He waved to me, and only me, as I was the only person on the White House grounds at the time. I waved back.
I wasn’t home when UPS dropped by, but we were overwhelmed by Restoration Hardware’s latest marketing effort. Nine, count ‘em, nine beautifully photographed and printed catalogs, a 3,300-page deluge of style and sophistication weighing a combined 11 pounds, 2 ounces.
In case your home was spared, each catalog was themed: Furniture, Leather, Interiors, Small Spaces, Upholstery, Rugs, Linens, Bath and Lighting. In the past, the books arrived separately. Restoration Hardware claims sending the catalogs out in one batch was more environmentally friendly than separate shipments.
Sorry to say, they’ll be recycled on Friday.
Soccer-mania, I’m also sorry to say, has not inhabited my being.
Almost 30 years ago when Dan started playing youth soccer, and then matriculated to an all-star traveling team and then his high school varsity, there were predictions real football would sweep the nation and United States citizenry would come to appreciate the sport the rest of the world did. I didn’t buy it then and still don’t, except that with immigration bringing more foreigners, legal and illegal, to our shores there is bound to be more enthusiasm for soccer.
American football has all those concussions to scare parents away, but heading a soccer ball or an opponent when both go up for a ball also produces concussions, so there’s no safety factor to sway allegiance to one sport over the other.
Soccer, I’m afraid, will have no wider draw than hockey, which, I believe, is a much more exciting game and, to my knowledge, not tainted by allegations of game-fixing.
Enjoy the World Cup while the frenzy lasts, and let’s hope the U.S. team beats or at least ties Germany Thursday.