Fame and glory: We’re back


MCZENA — Every once in a while there is something on the news that warms the heart.

The truth about seeing day to day news — mostly depressing — is that it sometimes reminds you of glories from long ago.

With the Grand Old Party now back in control of the Presidency and Congress, some old names are coming back into the news.

The face of a political consultant — long gone from electronic media — is now available for people to see.

How we’ve missed you, Ed Rollins.

If you don’t know Rollins’ history, he was with Ronald Reagan. He has been a pollster and at one time was a gadabout in Washington, D.C.

I had an encounter with Rollins once, back in the old days when I was in the nation’s capital, and working for a Republican congressman from Illinois.

People thought nothing of shipping off a beginning press secretary to a course at Georgetown University. This was to learn the ins and outs of being a flack (the common name for those of the press secretary persuasion).

The woman teaching the class knew Ed Rollins. She invited him to come and speak before the class.

This was considered a catch because the tribute paid to someone like Rollins was enormous.

This is a guy who would get consulted, and quoted, all the time.

Back in those days — this was 1981 — there were some serious discussions going on concerning AWACS. This had to do with foreign affairs.

There was a proposal to sell AWACS aircraft to Saudi Arabia in 1981. The act that distinguished a former senator from Iowa, Roger Jepsen, is that he led opposition to the Reagan Administration’s proposal to sell the aircraft, then reversed himself and voted for the measure at the last minute.

Jepsen said he had received “highly classified information” that led him to that decision.

Of course Rollins was in a position to know about that kerfuffle, being close to the President.

I could take a guest to press secretary class sessions, and the night of Rollins’ appearance, I did.

My late husband John Hyde was a columnist, reporter for the Des Moines Register. (second only to the New York Times in the number of Pulitzer prizes staffers had won).

One of the rules about the appearance of Rollins was that what was said was to be kept private.

John being John, he wrote a story about what Rollins said about Jepsen. Rollins made reference to the fact “we beat his brains in,” referring to Jepsen.

If you have an eye for news, you know publishing something like that is definitely going to set you up for notoriety.

John wrote the story. The Des Moines Register gleefully published it.

You could say that John was laying low for quite a while.

I’m not sure if the woman who ran the class ever talked to me again. I don’t know if she knew the details about how John got the story, but I’m certain she must have been suspicious.

The Des Moines Register later published an astonishing cartoon, done by Frank Miller. He was the Pulitzer prize winning cartoonist for the Register.

The cartoon shows Roger Jepsen walking along, carrying his head under his arm.

Because Frank Miller was a nice guy, he would gift cartoons to reporters or others who had supplied him with ammunition.

I’m the proud possessor of his large, black and white original cartoon, which hangs with distinction on the wall of one of my upstairs bedrooms.

Though it’s been years since Rollins first dipped his toe into the political limelight, he’s back. He has appeared on the Lou Dobbs show on Fox news.

There is evidence Rollins still talks in a way that should get him quoted.

Rollins — who now wears black eye glasses — apparently said about a month ago the “Donald Trump transition looks like a circus.”

Ed Rollins is a man who has an eye for the news.

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McZena Muse

Louise Swartzwalder