Just returned from the Log Cabin of LA dinner featuring one of my favorite celebrities, Ben Stein, and realized that, in many ways, I am a Ben Stein Republican. It was a great event and we had an amazing table, where I was joined by a screenwriting pal of mine and his wonderful fianc?e, Dirty Harry (one of my favorite bloggers, now at Jackson’s Junction), LA Daily News Columnist and new blogger Bridget Johnson, a blog reader, BoifromTroy and my date (who happens to be a Democrat).
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Boi, Dirty Harry, Bridget, our reader and my friend’s fianc?e, none of whom I had met before. All of whom helped make the conversation at our table insightful and scintillating.
But, the highlight of the evening was Ben Stein who, simply put, gave a great speech. More than a great speech, an ideal after-dinner speech. Following a meal sponsored by a group we support, we have all been subject to a speech that goes on too long where the speaker merely pastes the name of the organization he (or she) is addressing into some canned remarks.
Not so with Ben Stein. He kept his remarks short and looked at the audience more than at his notes. He addressed his remarks to this group of gay Republicans, talking to us as if we were friends. He started off by telling a number of very funny (mostly political) jokes, then moved on to offer a short summary of why he’s a Republican. He concluded by offering a touching tale of his parents’ final days.
In the political part, he noted that generally speaking, it is nations with the largest governments, those regimes which regulate every aspect of their citizens’ lives, which commit the greatest atrocities while nations with smaller governments don’t commit such atrocities. He faulted HillaryCare, yet also faulted the current Administration for cutting taxes too much and said it was a “moral mistake” for the President to endorse the Federal Marriage Amendment. He praised Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, but noted that she is not a politician; he doesn’t see a political future for her.
He saved the best part of the speech for last, talking about the importance of the spiritual life. He reminded us to “pay attention to the people who are good” to us and noted that every person has faced a struggle.
He paid attention to his parents at the end of their lives, frequently flying cross country to spend time with them. He recalled that when his father, the distinguished Williams alumnus, Herbert Stein, served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Nixon, that good man always had time to look up a fact for his son. “Benji,” the elder Stein said, “what do you think I have to do that’s more important than my one son?” I am honored to have attended the same college as Herbert Stein.
Ben repaid his father with frequent visits and encouraged his father to go out when his mother died. He understood what too many in this town (i.e, LA, but also Washington, D.C.) too often forget–that what really matters in life is those we hold dear, our families and our closest friends. That, in comparison to that, material wealth only matters in that it allows us to spend more time with those close to us.
There’s a word in Yiddish for people like Ben Stein: Mensch.
I’m proud to be part of a party which men like him have joined.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com