July 5, 2005

Who am I? Why am I not here?

James Stockdale, Perot's running mate in 1992, has died. He employed an unforgettable, offbeat style in the Vice Presidential debate, which will live forever in Saturday Night Live reruns, where his impersonator, Phil Hartman, is also immortal.

13 comments:

Goesh said...

I was watching when he made that infamous statement. Everyone sort of froze for a few moments. I think the whole nation briefly squirmed and lots of viewers made quick bathroom visits.

CCMCornell said...

While his performance at the VP date was certainly unusually memorable, I hope that I'll also remember him as a guy who earned the Medal of Honor and several silver stars for the sacrifice and leadership he gave during his long years in the POW camp. I remember watching a TV special on the Vietnam POW camps with some of the survivors crediting Stockdale and other stand-up guys for helping them leave not only with their lives, but also with their integrity.

Goesh said...

He was a Research Fellow at Stanford too. We seem to remember the gaffes and negative about such folks. Maybe it is best this way. It somehow is more satisfying to remember say Richard Nixon as Tricky Dick and Bill Clinton as Cigar Bill. I think it reminds us that they didn't live up to their potential, hence we don't have to closely examine our own shortcomings. Stockdale had Alzheimers, which of course we all knew years ago, and Ross, Mr. We'll-just-fix-it, should have suspected it. I'm sure the SCOTUS gang wonders about Rheinquist at times. I hear terrible rumors that he shuffles about talking to ashtrays and pees in the corner of his office. Perot gambled on the military, ex-POW status of Admiral Stockdale and lost. There is a bit of gratification in kicking a loser.

knoxgirl said...

I read an essay by him once about being a POW and how stoicism helped him to get through it. I also remember him talking about combatting boredom by spending hours and days simply culling through his memories: for example, struggling and eventually succeeding in remembering every single person in his first-grade class. It was pretty fascinating.

Sloanasaurus said...

There is no one who posts on this board who can live up to what this man endured and accomplished. I guess that is why we find solace in making fun of him. Fortunately, he was alright with that - a beloved grandfather for everyone.

Ann Althouse said...

Sloanasaurus and others: My post does NOT make fun of him. Reread it. Obviously, I could have written a longer post and detailed his impressive accomplishments. I focused on the thing he was most famous for and handled in in a FAR more favorable way than is normally done.

AJ Lynch said...

God I can still remember that Hartman skit ... Hartman (as Stockdale) saying over and over in a Frankenstein like voice "I'm hungry" then finally Perot (forget who played Perot) abandoning him at the side of the road and driving away. The skit ends with Stockdale catching the car on foot and running next to it as Perot is aghast that he can't get rid of his running mate.
Pure Hartman and SNL genius. Anyone remember who played Perot? Maybe Frank Perdue?

Ann Althouse said...

Perot was brilliantly played by Dana Carvey.

peggy said...

That SNL skit was the first thing I thought of when I heard that he died. So unfortunately, my first reaction was to laugh which I regretted immediately. I didn't know what I know now about Stockdale, but I knew there had to be more to him than one bad day. All I can say today is that I am duly impressed.

I do wonder though if he wasn't already showing signs of Alzheimers during the campaign much like Reagan may have in his last days in office?

Anyway, RIP Admiral Stockdale. We know better now who you really were.

Ann Althouse said...

Peggy: We knew at the time who Stockdale was. That's why Perot picked him. And Stockdale is responsible for accepting the role Perot offered him. Perot's foolishness was demonstrated by this action. We need to trust a President to appoint all sorts of people. Perot though we'd just go ga-ga for the man with the brilliant bio. Our response was an important moment in American politics, and it's absolutely justified to call attention to it now, on Stockdale's passing.

gs said...

Ann: I'm glad you didn't intend to make fun of Stockdale. Nevertheless, utilizing his gaffe to announce his death seems inappropriate.

I make no claim to the Roman virtues, but I'm grateful that there remain those among us who cultivate them.

Admiral Stockdale, RIP with thanks for your service.

Barry said...

I don't think it as so much of a "gaffe", and from Ann's comments, it doesn't appear she did either.

BTW, this is an interesting interview the Admiral did with PBS's Lehrer in 1999. In it, he says it was about a week before the debate that he found out he was actually going to be in it.

And here's a transcript of the debate. Sure, he's awfully short on details, caught off the mark several times, and even didn't have his hearing aid on at one point. But he is consistent in vouching for the Perot economic plan (which was Perot's only real issue - eliminating the deficit) and trying to call out his opponents for their inability to think beyond the same old party rhetoric. For a non-politician with no preparation, he did pretty well, I think.

Goesh said...

The title of this post was absolutely hilarious! I enjoy portions of this blog more than Doonesbury.