To -- me. Eleven years ago tomorrow this...

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

March 23, 1995|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to -- me. Eleven years ago tomorrow this column appeared under my name for the first time.

I've been at work in this corner of this page longer than that. From Jan. 1, 1976 till March 24, 1984, a column almost identical to this one appeared as "Notes and Comment." Almost all were followed by this signature: -- Theo Lippman, Jr.

We dropped the comma on March 24, 1984. That's the editorial "we." One difference between Notes and Comment and THEO LIPPMAN JR.(all caps, big type; I love it!) is that I employ the first person singular pronoun; "Notes" used the plural.

By my calculation this is column 1,056. Of the approximately 800 signed Notes and Comments 1976-1984 in the archives, I wrote more than 750. All told, about 1,800 pieces. At 500 words per, some 900,000 words, which is a lot. Some readers say too many. (I've written more than twice that many words in anonymous Sun editorials.)

Since the trademark of my column has been political trivia, you'll not be surprised I now note that Pat Buchanan, who announced his candidacy for the presidency Monday, used to write editorials for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

That may explain why he kept referring to himself as "we" in his announcement. But he was clearly more candidate than pundit. No editorial writer would try to get away with what he said Tuesday: "We can win this thing. Last time [1988], we started from zero. People laughed. We went [to New Hampshire] and almost beat the president of the United States."

Hahahahahahahahah. Buchanan got 37 percent of the vote in New Hampshire. So George McGovern "almost beat" Richard Nixon in 1972? I've never, in my three million words for this page, written anything that silly. (Well, almost never.)

More trivia: If Buchanan were elected president in 1996 (hahahahahahahah), he would be the second ex-editorial writer to make it to the White House in this century.

Warren G. Harding was editor and publisher of the Marion (Ohio) Star. He honed his language skills writing editorials. Of Harding's prose H. L. Mencken later wrote, "He writes the worst English I have ever encountered."

Here's a sample of his editorial writing (on Prohibition): "Every good citizen desires that this evil which is certainly not becoming less widespread from year to year shall be repressed and so on."

Here's another: "Now a woman has a perfect right to talk temperance, and the good her sex has done is undisputed, but her right to wear pants and make the night hideous on the street is questioned."

Sounds like a Buchanan editorial.

Buchanan began writing editorials for the Globe-Democrat at age 23, five weeks after he left journalism school. That was in 1962. In 1988 he said, "There is nothing I wrote then I could not defend now."

I can't say that. Most of us can't. Even editorial writers grow up.

Now, on to my fourth million.

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