"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, November 19, 2010

Birthdays Today

Kind of a compare-and-contrast exercise in today's birthdays.  First, we have Jeanne Kirkpatrick, the former U.N. Ambassador and national security advisor under Reagan, born in 1926.   Kirkpatrick had a reputation for tough, hard-headed realism in foreign affairs, advocating American support for any regime, including right-wing dictatorships, so long as they were sufficiently anti-communist.   This was at a time (the early 1980s) when the long twilight struggle against the Soviet empire was still an open question.   An heroic lady.

Next we have Dick Cavett, the talk show host, born in 1936.   Cavett always seemed to me like the epitome of the smug Manhattan liberal who thought he was smarter than everyone else, even though he never did anything in his life other than talk.  Having said that, as a young writer for The Tonight Show, Cavett is credited with writing one of the funniest lines ever, the introduction to the buxom actress, Jayne Mansfield, read by Jack Paar:  "Ladies and gentlemen, here they are, Jayne Mansfield."

Cavett was good friends with Woody Allen, and often interviewed him on his show, as here:

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