It's not fair to put Jerry Sandusky and Bristol Palin in the same sentence. One is a monster and the other is just a dope. But they have linked themselves with their favorite quote, which is weird. It's like if everyone in your yearbook's favorite expression was from "Free Bird." Because then it would be my yearbook.
You could waste a lot of time wondering how a person gets to be as bad as Jerry Sandusky without some kind of self-destruct mechanism kicking in. (And how a place gets as willfully blind as Happy Valley, Penn., without the five day forecast calling for brimstone.) The answers aren't in the "creepy love letters" he sent to Victim #4, but you do get to see him as something more than a sex criminal. He was also an after-dinner-speaking, "sports-builds-character" bore.
I thought that I would take a moment to share some thoughts, information and quotes. As you approach your 16th birthday each day becomes more important. You will be making many decisions that will affect the rest of your life. I hope that this will be taken as words of encouragement and hope...
The crystal ball says "anything is possible" you can live your life in pool hall, selling cigarettes or go to college and provide for others. You can make and follow through with commitments or you can discard them for what appears to be a better deal.
You have begun by choosing to do the program. You will win by staying with it. I hope that you can become a winner.
Penn State football has been that. I have been touched by winners. I have observed commitment, I have seen people with pride, appreciation, love and sacrifice. They worked -- the result has been 2 national championships, more 10 win seasons than any other school in the last 30+ years. 5 undefeated seasons during this time, more bowl wins than anybody, won all major bowls etc...
I only say this to add credibility to what is said. You don't have to accomplish all that to be a winner all that you have to do is become the person you are capable of being. You must want it and be willing to scratch, hurt a little to get there.
J.F.K. -- "life was not designed as a prison in which a man awaits his execution. It is not necessary to stay with what you have. You have the capacity for great achievement, great loyalty, and great love. And I would say to you, if you have this dream to make things better don't sell out short. Don't back away. If you have a song to sing, sing it."
Teddy Roosevelt -- The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena -- whose face is marked by dust, heat, and blood; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best if he wins knows the thrills of high achievement and if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.
It's your song, your choices, your life. Id like to feel a small part of it and will be there, if you want. I have believed and stuck up for you.
I know what you're thinking: Just sodomize me.
Forget that this crud was sent to a child he was raping. And that it's subtly suggesting that if the kid tells anyone, or asks his attacker to stop, he's kind of a quitter. Just look at the writing. This pompous dunce was a professor emeritus at a university.
In Lolita it says you can always count on a murderer for fancy prose style. Obviously we've lowered the bar.
But there was something nagging about the tired old "in the arena" Roosevelt quote. Most decent people dropped it after 1974, when Nixon got it all covered in slime by using it in his resignation speech, but where had we just seen it?
Why, just last month. On the dedication page of the brand new paperback edition of Bristol Palin's Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far:
To all you underdogs
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
Quoting a 1910 Theodore Roosevelt speech to the Sorbonne. That's so Bristol.
But let's say she did at least approve it, just like Nixon and Jerry Sandusky. What is it about this particular piece of threadbare claptrap that makes it so attractive to a certain kind of public figure?
Mostly, I suppose, it speaks to these disasters because it's so beautifully self-pitying and arrogant. "Sure I'm a screw-up, but at least I tried, if I do say so myself, unlike you, loser." But I think there's something even darker to it than that. It's the line about "it's not that critic that counts." I think that's what really sexy about it to frauds who've been caught. (And I don't mean Bristol Palin, who's just a kid. I mean Palin Inc., and the ghostwriter she was assigned.) The important thing Jerry Sandusky, and Richard Nixon, and the Palins want to remember is this: Never listen to cynics.
They'll just warn you about us.