Ben Stein's Diary

Major League Sinners

The view from the street and the TV studio.

By 12.8.11

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Friday
Today, lords, has been a busy day.

I am in New York at the Essex House. I got up at 6 a.m., New York time, which is 3 a.m., my time. I pulled my fat old self together, had a bagel and orange juice, then headed over to CBS for the Early Show. It was fun. The hosts there are invariably charming.

Then a round of TV shows and interviews that lasted the whole day. The shows just went on and on. My favorite was at Fox with my pal, Neil Cavuto. We talked about Herman Cain and how he had been pushed around by the media. I told Neil that I was endlessly amazed that the media thought it had the moral standing to judge others.

There is a powerful story in the New Testament that goes something like this:

While Jesus was nearby, the Pharisees called him into the temple to see a woman who had been taken in adultery. The head Pharisee said to Jesus, "The Mosaic law says she is to be stoned. What do you think?"

Jesus was writing something on the ground and he looked up and asked the woman, "Is this true? Were you taken in adultery?"

The woman said, "Yes, Lord, I was."

Jesus said, to this effect, "Yes, then she should be stoned. Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone."

The Pharisees, stung, muttered, then slunk off in shame until none was left and Jesus kept writing on the ground. Then he looked up and saw that all of the accusers had left and said to the woman, "Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more."

So, who in the media is without sin among us? I am in the media and I am a major league sinner. I don't know anyone except my wife who isn't a big time sinner. We in the media are just people with all of people's faults. We're today's Pharisees, judging everybody else. And they take it!

That's how I feel about Mr. Cain. Yes, maybe he is a sinner. WHO THE HECK ISN'T? I wonder if some day some sharp cookie will do some investigation of media powers to see how without sin they are. Nahh. Never happen.

Anyway, it was a full day. I went back to my room and took a long, long nap with my big beautiful wifey. She did not want to go out in the cold, so about 9 p.m. I put on my woolen coat (my good Republican cloth coat, as RN called Mrs. Nixon's coat) and headed out the door.

I stopped at a little grocery store to buy some mints and fell into a short but charming conversation with a short but charming Albanian chanteuse named Ani Shine. I bought her a pack of gum. She gave me a rainbow.

Then I headed east and down Fifth Avenue. I stopped at the St. Regis to buy a Diet Coke in the King Cole Bar. A tall, cheery woman talked to me cheerily about her world of advertising. I think she knew I was famous but she wasn't letting on. I drank my Diet Coke and headed south. I've told you a million times about how I used to meet up with my Pop at the King Cole Bar when he was at the Committee for Economic Development and I was at Columbia. The place makes me emotional. It has been totally rearranged but it still makes me emotional. That portrait of Old King Cole used to hang in a big room. Now it's in the small bar, but I still love it. Maxfield Parrish painted it in the days of wine and roses. How I miss my Pop.

There was a fantastic crowd around Rockefeller Center looking at the Christmas tree. Hardly anyone spoke English. But they were a good-looking bunch by and large. Lots of cute Russians. The East Europeans, Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Estonians, Lithuanians, all really great looking.

A Hispanic man wanted his picture taken with me. I stood between his wife and him. He told me he was in the Army and was headed for Afghanistan the next day. "You're a star," I said. "A real star." His wife started to cry. I hugged her.

Then I hugged him and gave him my e-mail and told him if he wanted me to send him anything, I would.

What will it be like for him going from this lushness around 49th and Fifth and heading for some dusty miserable spot in Afghanistan where people will try to kill him? Will he even believe there is a place like the ice skating rink at the Rockefeller Center or will he think he dreamt it?

Meanwhile, what was Jesus writing in the dust?

Then back down south. A taxi came within inches of running me over at 47th and Fifth. He was running a light and almost killed me.

Then left at 44th, past Brooks Brothers, and then into the Yale Club. As I went in the revolving door, a middle aged woman with short, close cropped blond hair with one red streak, grabbed me. "Let's go to the bar and have a drink," she whispered. She was drunk. I mean, there is drunk and then there was this woman, who was in a coma.

I told her I did not drink and was going to the library. She followed me to the beautiful library. I tried to ignore her. I sat in a leather arm chair. She sat on my lap. "Look," she said in a thick German accent, "I'll keep this simple. I want you to come to my crappy little apartment and do me."

"No," I said.

"Why not?" she asked.

"One, I'm going back to my hotel to be with my wife, and two, I am going back to my hotel to be with my wife."

The woman looked a bit like Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner and I was wondering if she would kill me by crushing my skull. But I bravely pushed her off my lap and walked to the elevator. On the elevator was a lovely middle-aged couple from Tulsa. By a great stroke of luck, she glommed onto them and I made my getaway to the men's room.

When I got out, she was gone. As I left, I ran into Ed Schmults, if I have the spelling right. He was Deputy AG under Ed Meese, under Reagan, if I remember. He was with his stunningly beautiful wife, who was wearing a spectacular mink coat. Women wear fur in New York City. I don't know what to say about that.

Mr. Schmults greeted me cheerily and off I went back to the Essex House. A long walk for me after a long day. At 59th and Sixth, I saw a pretty young woman with a very short skirt trying to hail a cab. I suggested to her that she walk over to the doorman at the Essex House and he would get her a taxi.

"Are you staying there, Mr. TV Man ?" she asked me.

"Yes, I am," I answered her.

"Would you like to have some fun with me?"

"No," I said. "I'm going up to my room where my wife is waiting for me."

"Well, if you change your mind, I'll be out here," she said. "I'm Tiffany. Good night Mr. TV man."

Back in my room, my wife was reading a mystery.

"Did you have a good walk?" she asked me.

Tuesday
Now, I am back in L.A. I spent most of the afternoon with my wife at law offices. We came home and I took a really long nap. My hound, Julie, was by my side snoring dog snores.

Then off to Pavilions to buy some fish. The weather is fantastically cold here. Pavilions and the parking lot were empty. As I cruised the aisles, a middle-aged woman with an attractive, alert face came up to me.

"I'm a fan of yours," she said. "And I'm a huge, huge, huge fan of Nixon. I know you worked for him. I was there the night before his funeral at the viewing. I stood in line for six hours, until three in the morning, to see him. I loved him. He was such a great President."

"A peacemaker."

"Exactly," she said. "Exactly. I was in the service and he ended the war in Vietnam. I'll never stop being grateful."

"What do you do now?"

"I was working at a consulting firm but I had to leave because I have cancer," she said sorrowfully.

I looked at her and tears came to both sets of eyes. I hugged her. "God bless you," I said.

"God bless Richard Nixon," she said.

I hugged her again and when I got home, my wife asked, "How was the grocery store ?"

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.