So, now it's official.
Helen Thomas has "retired." In truth, she acted dumbly, was exposed as a bigot and has been forced out of her job. And all this on the virtual eve of her 90th birthday.
She could have actually retired gracefully years ago -- decades ago, in fact.
But she held on and on and on . . . and on!
And therein lies the problem.
As I noted in a recent opinion piece in the Philadelphia Daily News, many public figures just don’t know when to leave the stage. Here are a few of them:
Larry King – Watching Larry King these days doesn’t even rise to the level of nostalgia. Instead, Larry King Alive (as it’s been derisively termed) alternates between grimly funny and damned embarrassing. King mispronounces names, botches questions, loses his way and comes across as hopelessly out of touch. The huckstering, the suspenders, the inane questions – the whole thing is terminal.
Harry Reid – Lets face it: Harry Reid looks like an undertaker. How can he be a leader when you take one look at him and you know you’re just not goin where he’s fixin to take you? Why did anybody think that this man could be the face of hope and change in the United States Senate? His jokes are bad, His anecdotes are dated. His timing is laughable. And now the scent of flop sweat follows him everywhere.
Jay Leno – He’s OK with giving up the spotlight. But no, he’s not retiring. Well, he’s not quite retiring. Check that, he’s definitely not retiring. In fact, he’s happy to brazenly snatch the job from the very successor that he once blessed. This is beyond sad. It’s shameless. Jay wants you to think that he’s your friendly neighbor from down the street. And he’s not shy about it. “I’m a nice guy, right?” he bellows. “Right?” Wrong!
Newt Gingrich – Newt was on top of the world in 1994, and with good reason. He engineered one of the most stunning upsets in American political history. But then he stumbled. And he’s never quite recovered. Now, he comes across as a weary relic of the Reagan era. I know he wants to be President. I know. Just like I want to spend every winter in Tahiti. Ain’t gonna happen.
Barbara Walters – Queen Elizabeth isn’t available. The Pope still won’t grant interviews. Greta Garbo, Howard Hughes, Jackie and J. D. Salinger have all died. So now Barbara is reduced to interviewing the likes of Lady Gaga. Puhhhleasse!
Brett Farve – Someone once said, “A setback is nothing more than a setup for a comeback.” Bret Farve has had his setbacks and now he’s had one of the greatest comebacks that anyone could ask for. He’s endured long past the playing age of most pro athletes. He proved his point. Case closed.
An old friend of mine taught me this early on: Always leave them begging for more.
If only more public figures listened to that advice!