This Just In: It Didn't Happen
Sperling, Godfrey, The Christian Science Monitor
When I was just starting this column in December 1971, I remember saying to one of my Monitor colleagues: "How in the world am I going to keep this going, week after week?" That concern never really leaves you. "What to write about? What to write about?" That question is always nagging at you. But - somehow - you get the job done. And the 25 years have flown by!
My first columns came out of my coverage of the early stages of the 1972 presidential campaign. I was slogging through the deep snows of New Hampshire, witnessing Ed Muskie's sudden decline and George McGovern's equally sudden rise. I was keeping an eye on the GOP candidate, Richard Nixon, too. But, as a sitting president seeking his second term, Nixon had the nomination pretty much wrapped up from the start.
Around that time one of the Monitor's greats, Saville R. Davis, gave me some excellent advice about writing columns. He said that it was good to try to make the column timely but that there was an advantage, at times, in waiting until every other columnist or observer had his say - and then write. I can still hear that wise and warm-hearted man saying to me: "At that point you can draw the long bow." By this he said he meant that I could then step back and view the subject from a perspective that might well have been missed by those who had rushed into print. So that's my excuse for waiting for so long to take a look back at 1996. I had found my long bow lying over in the corner, behind some books, and this seemed a good opportunity to use it. Although the ups and downs of the president and the Speaker may have been the events that drew the most public attention last year, it seems to me that the most important happening of 1996 is something that wasn't happening: Although no one seemed to notice, we experienced another year without the threat of extinction through nuclear war constantly staring us in the face. …