Century Marks

Century Marks

Stand corrected

When it comes to political campaigns, candidates are inclined to invoke voices from the grave to support their own election. Presiden­tial candidates especially like to quote previous presidents. A new online feature by the New York Times is going to try to keep candidates honest. A range of expert opinions will be sought when candidates draw on history. Called “Historically Corrected,” the first installment challenged President Obama’s upbeat rhetoric about American achievements in the past in building the transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway system. “We built this country together,” Obama likes to say. In fact, many of the grand achievements in the past were products of political conflict and bickering, just like Obama’s own health-care law (New York Times, Campaign Stops, July 7).

Foul play

A survey of senior financial services executives in the United States and the United Kingdom indicated that 26 percent had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace. Twenty-four percent thought that financial services professionals need to engage in unethical or illegal activity to be successful. Sixteen percent said they would engage in insider trading if they thought they could get away with it, while 30 percent said their compensation packages pressured them to engage in unethical or illegal behavior. “When misconduct is common and accepted by financial services professionals, the integrity of our entire financial system is at risk,” said an executive at a law firm that represents whistleblowers and that conducted the survey (Reuters).

Dream speak

Before Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington, singer Mahalia Jackson gave a rousing rendition of the song “How I Got Over.” But Jackson did more than set the crowd up for Dr. King. When the beginning of his speech seemed rather flat, Jackson repeatedly said, “Martin, tell them about the dream.” Without Jackson’s prodding we might never have heard those now-famous lines (Anthony Heilbut, The Fan Who Knew Too Much, Knopf).

At Mitt’s table

Despite uneasy relations with evangelicals, the Romney camp has been reaching out to them at least since 2006 when the Romneys invited evangelical leaders to a meeting in New Hampshire. The group included Franklin Graham, the late Jerry Falwell and Gary Bauer. After these leaders got back home they received a chair from the Romneys with a plaque on the back that read, “You will always have a seat at my table.” Evangelicals are hoping that Romney chooses a vice-presidential candidate to their liking and that he’ll give a Rick Santorum–like stump speech supporting their understanding of family values (interview with David Brody on PBS Newshour about his book The Teavangelicals: The Inside Story of How the Evangelicals and the Tea Party Are Taking Back America, Zondervan).

Getting his goat

A new missionary on an Indian reservation saw an elder standing in his yard with a goat in his arms. Occasionally the goat would stretch its neck and take a bite of the bushes in the yard. When the missionary asked what the man was doing, he replied, “I’m trimming the hedges.” Incredulously, the missionary said, “Don’t you know that could take all day?” The man said, “What’s time to the goat?” (Randy S. Woodley, Shalom and the Community of Creation, Eerdmans).