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EVEN I NEED ***SOME*** TACT


I want the whole world to know that Joe Sobran said that "Bob Whitaker is blunt and brilliant." Nothing is as flattering as praise from the praiseworthy, and I would rather have those words from Joe than anything any other national columnist could say.

The following columns invite you to criticize me when I need it. But do try to cushion the bad news a little.

I am blunt, but even old Bob needs people to use a little tact with him.

The best definition of that word that I ever heard is the following: "Tact is the difference between telling a woman that when you see her, time stands still and telling a woman that her face would stop a clock."

For example, you could look at my life's story and say one of two things.

Two guys look at my many experiences and my travels.

The tactful one says, "You are a very impressive person, Bob. You have been many places and had wide experience in varying fields of endeavor. You are well equipped to advise us."

The guy without tact would just say, "Can't keep a job, can you, Bob?"

So if you catch me bragging or whining, let me down easy, OK?

 

MAURICE BESSINGER DOESN'T TALK ABOUT COMBAT


I am bragging when I point out that I have known Maurice Bessinger for decades. We talked for many hours through the years. But I only heard him mention his Korean War experiences once.

He said he was walking guard duty in Korea with a Republic of Korea (ROK) soldier during the Korean War. The ROK soldier said for Maurice to stay on guard and he would go back and go to sleep.

A little later, an ROK officer showed up and asked Maurice where the ROK guard was. Maurice told him. The officer walked back to where the soldier was sleeping and a minute later Maurice heard the sharp crack of his pistol. He had shot the guard while he lay there asleep.

That was all Maurice ever said to me about Korea in all our many hours of conversation.

I came to find out later that Maurice Bessinger was in the most vicious part of the fighting in that awful war. But he simply never mentioned it.

I have known a lot of people who talk constantly about combat and others like Maurice who mention it barely or not at all. The ones who talk about it usually make you feel that they want you to feel responsible for it all. You owe them more money for it, and only they have any right to talk about war.

Then there are people like Maurice who don't claim some kind of special godhood from their time in combat. I was raised with the World War II generation, so I am very familiar with both types.

A very simple rule separates the braggarts and the real heroes like Maurice.

Maurice Bessinger did his fighting and then went back to being a citizen. He has had one hell of a life since then.

Another guy I know fought for five months in World War II, then he became an alcoholic and stayed in the service. Because he had won a Silver Star, they let him stay in, drunkenness and all.

This guy talks about nothing but World War II. He tells how he is the only person who should talk about war. He says we owe him.

The latter gentleman beats his chest so much I think he's broken some ribs.

The guy who talks about his college football days or his time in service all the time, hoping you will feel obligated and inferior, is almost invariably somebody who has not had a life since. I saw an outstanding example just a couple of years ago on the television program, "Cops."

The cops were called to a bar where an old guy kept pulling his pants down. When they arrived, he shouted that he had been at D-Day. I wonder how many times he has used that to stay out of jail.

Maurice Bessinger has shown physical courage in war, but he has also shown MORAL courage by taking the field in politics. It has cost him dearly. A major part of his life's work has been destroyed because he dared to speak out. Bessinger will never have to convince anyone worth talking to that he is a hero.

Please read November 20, 1999 - TYPES OF COURAGE.

 

 

"NOBODY KNOWS THE TROUBLE I'VE SEEN"


One of the main things I got paid for was taking long-winded verbiage and telling my busy boss what was actually said. I am a professional speechwriter, and I know a dozen nice-sounding ways to say anything, no matter how creepy it really is.

If you want to shut up all opposition, use the old "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" line. When I was coming up, no one was allowed to debate integration because "You don't know what it's like to be black." And then there was the "I am Jewish and..." crowd. These were the people who shut up all debate by saying no one understood how it was to be Jewish and so nobody but Jews had a right to talk about Israel or other issues.

You are not allowed to say that the Americans for Disabilities Act has gone too far, because, "You don't Understand..." what it is like to be in a wheelchair.

Let me tell you what is really stupid about using the "You just don't Understand" line. You can only use it on someone who does Understand.

If you use the "You just don't Understand how it is" line on someone who doesn't Understand, he will not pay you any attention. So you only use "You Don't Understand" because you know the person you are talking to DOES see how important your experience was.

As usual, appealing to conscience only works with those who HAVE consciences. The "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" line only shuts up the people who should be talking.

I beg you to save me from this. I try to explain how my many experiences taught me things. But like anybody else, I can slip into the "I had it so hard" whine. When that happens, PLEASE don't let me get away with it.

 

 
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Issue: Feb. 2, 2002
Editor: Virgil H. Huston, Jr.
2001 WhitakerOnLine.org


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