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April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
April 24, 2012/ 2 Iyar, 5772
Friday night I dreamed about Ted Stevens. Why would a dead senator from Alaska walk into my dream here in the middle of Arkansas? Maybe he was lost.
I never knew the man, though I must have written editorials about him from time to time in his long political career.
He was a feisty, five-foot-six, cigar-smoking war hero. He flew Over the Hump in World War II with the Flying Tigers (and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross). After the war, he would settle in Alaska, where he worked as U.S. attorney and would spend a lifetime as a ferocious advocate of Alaska's interests, including its admission to the Union.
In his old age, he was essentially framed by the federal prosecutors who withheld vital evidence from his defense team. He would be found guilty of corruption in public office just in time to lose his bid for a seventh term in the U.S. Senate.
Eventually he would be vindicated, the charges against him dismissed, and the prosecution disciplined. It all led to the judge in the case, confronted by what had happened in his court, asking whether there was any public integrity in the Justice Department's public integrity section.
The truth does have a way of outing. But by the time it was revealed in Senator Stevens' case, the election was over, and he had lost by a relative handful of votes. The next year the old flyer would die in a fiery plane crash. But here he was at my family reunion.
Sen. Stevens proved only a kind of warm-up act in the dream. He arrived just before my cousin Pinky, the most colorful member of the family and a great raconteur -- a traveling salesman by occupation, avocation and inclination. As usual, he stole the show. He's dead now, too. But he never seemed more vivid in my mind.
On spotting Pinky, I remember being struck by how short he was. Most people were on meeting him -- for about 10 seconds, before his outsize personality took over and he was telling stories, giving inside tips, and generally being the center of delighted attention. It was a pleasure to see him again.
Aunts, uncles, cousins, all manner of kissin' kin in profusion, the quick and the dead, came and went and generally milled about, usually with a drink and plate in hand. I was getting hungry.
Somewhere in the distance, a battery of 105s was firing aimlessly. The battery was lost on maneuvers and it was all my fault. The voice of an ROTC instructor I hadn't heard in 50 years was saying, "And that's when Cadet Greenberg made his fatal error...."
I never figured out what Ted Stevens was doing in the midst of this surreal jumble. He didn't stay long. Indeed, he made only a brief appearance at the outset of the dream and then was gone. He may have been just part of my dreamwork, one function of which is to tidy up the undone business of the day.
As soon as I awoke, I remembered that for some time now I'd been meaning to write a piece in praise of an assistant U.S. attorney by the name of Karen Whatley here in Little Rock.
She'd been in charge of a case against a lawyer who'd been indicted on fraud charges. When a witness unexpectedly revealed that there was a lot more to a file in this case than had come out in court, both the presiding judge and the prosecution swung into action. Counselor Whatley moved that the charges be dismissed, and they were. Promptly and permanently. Case closed.
Quite a contrast with the way some federal prosecutors/persecutors in Alaska treated Ted Stevens, much to their shame. Here in Arkansas, justice was done. And a happy ending declared to a long-running case that had to have caused many a sleepless night for an innocent man. It kind of restores one's faith in the law. At least here in Arkansas.
Not that it wasn't wholly a pleasure, but I don't anticipate seeing Sen. Stevens in any more of my dreams. This matter is closed. And the whole subject off my to-do list.
Thanks for listening, Gentle Reader. It's a lot cheaper than taking my dreams to a therapist.
Paul Greenberg Archives
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