Isn’t it interesting how the shortest month of the year is such a busy one? February is loaded with anniversaries, holidays, special events, and all sorts of commemorations. Three important presidents were born in this month – Washington, Lincoln, and Reagan. St. Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, Super Bowl Sunday, awards shows, and New Orleans’ Mardi Gras all pushed into this month. Too bad we can’t take some of this stuff and put in August, a month that has nothing.
From everything I saw, Chuck Hagel’s responses to the questions posed to him at his Senate confirmation hearing were abysmal. The man looked befuddled and unsure of himself. Sometimes he had no answers; other times his answers were patently wrong and contradictory. And amazingly, as Obama’s appointee for secretary of defense, he couldn’t articulate the administration’s stand on several major foreign affairs issues. Embarrassing doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Almost every political commentator I read and listened to following the hearings agreed that Hagel’s performance was the worst they’d ever seen. That he showed abject weakness, ignorance, and a lack of conviction … for anything. He proved himself ill qualified to head up one of the most important, if not THE most important cabinet positions in the country. He even said during the questioning, “I won’t be in a policy-making position,” essentially admitting that he will merely serve as Obama’s puppet. That admission is amazing.
And yet those same political insiders say in the next breath, “but that won’t keep Hagel from being confirmed. He will be the next secretary of defense.” Oh really? Well then why the hell do we have conformation hearings at all? If at the end of the day, the president will get approval for his cabinet positions (no matter how unqualified they prove to be) why are we, as a country, spending the time and money going through a useless charade? Just let the president appoint whatever dummy he wants and let’s get on with it. The Senate needs to cut out the phony crap already and spend their time in better ways, like, oh I don’t know, maybe writing a balanced budget or working out a way to shrink our national debt.
Why is it that the color hazel is only used to describe the color of eyes? No one buys hazel trousers or paints their house hazel. We don’t buy a hazel car or refrigerator. We don’t see crayons labeled “hazel.” No one refers to anything else as having a hazel color. It’s only when we speak of eye color. Why is that?
They were the voices for a generation during World War II. The Andrews Sisters sang the songs for a country at war in the forties. My mother sang those songs to me as a baby and later I watched the Andrews Sisters sing them in old Abbott and Costello movies on TV. Song hits such as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen,” and so many others have stayed with me all my life even though they weren’t of my generation.
Maxine, Patty, and LaVerne defined jitterbugging jump tunes like no one else of their era. You can’t think of swing singers without seeing them in your mind doing their little dancing while belting out “Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar.” But it wasn’t all jitterbug. They sang oh-so-sweetly “I Can Dream, Can’t I?” and “I’ll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time,” recording more than 400 songs and selling over 80 million records.
They recorded with many of the famous big bands of the forties such as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, Bob Crosby, and Woody Herman. They sang dozens of records with Bing Crosby including “Don’t Fence Me In,” which became a million-seller. They regularly performed with Bing on his radio show as well as singing with others like Dick Haymes, Jimmy Durante, and Al Jolson.
Patty, the last surviving sister, died on Jan. 30th at the age of 94. It may be a cliché to say so, but in this case it is so true, that her death marks the end of an era. The 1940s chapter on American music has come to an end. But it’s comforting to imagine that the Andrews Sisters are now back together again somewhere, reunited in perfect harmony and once again making beautiful, happy music for all time.