May 29, 2002


The Men Who Come to Dinner (Thomas Fleming, March 7, 2001, Chronicles)
Everyone remembers The Man Who Came to Dinner, the Kaufman and Hart play (turned into a somewhat lame film) in which Monty Woolley plays Sheridan Whiteside, a pretentious and obnoxious bore whose dinner invitation turns into his hosts' nightmare when the great man breaks his leg and refuses to leave the house. In America today, we have the same problem collectively: the public men who come to eat from the trough in Washington and who simply will not go away. Every two-term congressman, once he has been caught with one hand in the till and the other up a congressional intern's dress (or trousers), seems to find a way of staying on in D.C. as a consultant. They'll do anything to stay in the public eye and out of Nebraska or Iowa.

If you thought you'd seen the last of Newt Gingrich's baby face or Jack Kemp's poofed hair, think again. They'll be around so long as there is one last conservative widow to separate from her late husband's savings.

Then there is the third member of that unholy alliance: William Bennett, who simply will not go away. How to describe such a man? Just relying on my memory of the period, I could write a profile that would begin with the less-than-hundred page "doctoral dissertation" he wrote at the University of Texas, complete with a page or two of footnotes and bibliographical references to popular paperback editions.

It just gets uglier, and funnier, from there. Posted by Orrin Judd at May 29, 2002 7:20 AM
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