In an age when an
amateur pugilist became a universal hero, few could deny he was a champion
of the world. Using a title less recognized than his given Leslie Townes
name, Packy East didn’t make a big splash. The hits he took didn’t come from
a Tyson, his skills didn’t float like a butterfly, or sting like a bee. No,
they taught him that his true talent would come from a different calling.
The Pack man would travel to every corner of the world as an ambassador of
Hope. Few would forget the joy and laughter that he brought to their town.
Most would remember that they felt good and were touched with a little magic
Bob Hope was not just a peerless comedian, a radio celebrity, a movie star
or a TV icon. He was a certified human being. Living a life that transformed
a mere man into an institution is rare. Today the odds are remote it could
happen again or that another could rival his achievements. But that is not
the real measure of the person.
Being the entertainer brought him fame and fortune, but his genuineness earned
him respect. His legacy will be calculated differently by the media; however,
for the common man, he was a prominent person who retained an ordinary man
quality. Endearing himself came natural. The gift he presented us was himself.
A man we could sincerely like.
That is the basis of his special status. A public figure that was real, and
deserving of admiration. The road to esteem and honor seeks to revere that
which is worthy in the character of the individual. Bob Hope epitomized what
his audience wanted for America, something to believe in and an individual
who represented the dream.
The politics of Hope may not appeal to everyone, since many reside on a street
of victims. But for those who retain self dignity and trust in basic principles
that built a great nation, Bob was their man. Challenging authority with
a sling of jest was his ultimate trademark. Even when rubbing elbows with
public officials or playing golf with Presidents, the zing of irony was always
present. Laughing with Presidents might well spin into exposing their vaudeville
act for all the people to see and heed. A monologue from Bob could be more
biting and effective than an entire year of Meet the Press.
Ribs of the commander-in-chief would cut across all party lines. Some examples
that could do more than just poke fun at the obvious:
Dwight Eisenhower. "I played golf with him yesterday. It's
hard to beat a guy who rattles his medals while you're putting. Ike uses
a short Democrat for a tee."
John F. Kennedy. "Have you heard about President Kennedy's new youth Peace
Corps to help foreign countries? It's sort of Exodus with fraternity pins."
Lyndon Johnson. "How about President Johnson meeting with Vietnam's Gen.
Ki in Hawaii? They've made a decision about Vietnam that should please everybody
— they're going to close it down."
Richard Nixon. "It appears that the president taped all his conversations
in the Oval Office. I just hope that 18 minutes of missing tape included
some of the bad jokes I told him."
Gerald Ford. "It's not hard to find Jerry Ford on a golf course — you just follow the wounded."
Ronald Reagan. "Nancy had some trouble with him in rehearsing their first
dance for the (Inaugural Ball). It's not easy to follow a partner who keeps
circling to the right."
George Bush. "The Los Angeles Times gave George Bush a C on his 100 days
in office. No one knows what Dan Quayle got. He claims he lost his report
card on his way home from the White House."
While Bob will be venerated as the USO representative who did most for morale,
his version of Patriotism always appeared pure. What emerged from every performance
was an optimism that America was still GOOD. Even when foreign policy was
suspect, Bob could get you to believe in the basic decency of Americans.
Thanks for the memory is more than a musical signature song. It is an anthem
for a life worthy of living. His journey on a “Road to Utopia” more closely
resembles the promise of what America could be and why she deserves to be
saved. Bob Hope’s passing is a time to celebrate the “Yank of the Century.”
The treasure that he left is the hope that we may all wake up to restore
the real America. The one that transformed Packy East from a fighter into
a defender of an entire nation. Bob Hope will be missed, so pay homage to
his memory - revive the traditional America of his youth. It is that country
that Bob loved and the same one that each of us should honor.
Sartre is the pen name of James Hall, a reformed political operative. His website is Breaking All the Rules.