Roger Simons Famous Article on Americas Glorious Failures

Roger Simon, political columnist, commentator and author for decades. He has been through many major events, stories and changes in U.S. recent history. More about the columnist and journalist, Roger Simon. Roger Simon is the chief political columnist of Politico , who has won more than three dozen first-place awards for journalism, and is the only person to win twice the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award for commentary. His book on the 1996 presidential race, Show Time , made the New York Times best-seller list in 1998. [1] Simon was born in Chicago and received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana . Prior to joining Politico , Simon was a reporter or columnist for several newspapers, including the Waukegan, Illinois , News-Sun, the Baltimore Sun , and the Chicago Sun-Times . [2] In 1998, he became the White House correspondent of the Chicago Tribune and covered the Monica Lewinsky scandal . In 1999, he joined U.S. News & World Report as chief political correspondent and then political editor. He joined Bloomberg News in January 2006 as its first chief political correspondent, and later joined Politico as its first chief political columnist. In April 1999, Simon was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame. Simon has been a Poynter Media Fellow at Yale University , a Hoover Media Fellow at Stanford University , and a Kennedy School of Government Institute of Politics Fellow at Harvard University . [1] In July 2011 Simon was nominated for an Online Journalism Award in the Commentary/Blogging, Large Site Division of the contest. Launched in 2000 and administered by the Online News Association, in partnership with the University of Miami’s School of Communication, the OJAs are the only comprehensive set of journalism prizes honoring excellence in digital journalism, focusing on independent, community, nonprofit, major media and international news sites. Based in Washington, D.C., Simon contributes articles to national magazines and newspapers, and has appeared as a panelist or political analyst on numerous television and radio programs. Simon’s syndicated columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate to newspapers throughout the world. [2] He is also a speaker and author. Books written by Simon include: Simon Says: The Best of Roger Simon (1986) Road Show: In America, Anyone Can Become President, It’s One of the Risks We Take (1990; covers the 1988 presidential campaign) Show Time: The American Political Circus and the Race for the White House (1998; covers the 1996 presidential campaign) Divided We Stand: How Al Gore Beat George Bush and Lost the Presidency (2002; covers the 2000 presidential campaign) In 2009, Simon underwent amputation of his right leg below the knee and his left foot after an infection led to blood poisoning. After an eight-month absence, he wrote about the ordeal with characteristic humor in his Politico column. [3] This award winning story he wrote in 1976 is worth repeating here: [This award-winning column by Roger Simon first appeared on July 4, 1976, and has been reprinted every year since.] I have done some pretty awful things in the name of journalism. I have rushed up to interview mothers who have lost children, husbands who have lost wives, families shattered by a variety of emotional and physical calamities. All reporters do these things. We wear a protective cloak of professional indifference while we write the names and ages and addresses in our notebooks. The deed is done quickly and quickly forgotten. But I am going to have a hard time forgetting a long, cinder-block corridor in a small Wisconsin town that led to a bare, large room where eight girls sat on folding chairs facing a television set. No accident had befallen these girls. No one had died or gone to jail or been shot. What had happened to them, instead, is just about the worst thing that can happen to a person in this country. They had failed. They had wanted to be Miss America and now they never would be. I had spent three days in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, talking to the girls entered in the Miss Wisconsin Pageant, the final step before Atlantic City, where the winner would meet fame, fortune, and Bert Parks. I had come to do a magazine article on the American Dream and I saw the contestants go through endless hours of walking up and down a stage wearing evening gowns and bathing suits, trying not to wobble on high heels while the same thoughts ran through their heads: “What if I trip? What if I faint? What if I throw up?” Their workdays were 18 hours long. And wherever they went, they smiled. But on the last night, the smiling stopped. The names of the finalists were read and the eight losers ran offstage and were led to a room. I walked past the door to that room three or four times before I could make myself go in. They swiveled on their chairs to look at me. I had gotten to know them by the names of the Wisconsin towns they represented, and that is the way I think of them still. Miss Watertown, who had the brightest smile and the cheeriest outlook during the contest, spoke one of the two thoughts that were dominating each of their minds. “I just feel bad for my town,” she said, fiddling with the hem of her gown. “I feel I let them down. I feel I let all the people down.” Miss Sheboygan, the girl I secretly had been rooting for, spoke the second thought. “I don’t know how I will face the people who came here to see me,” she said. I wish I could have told them then what I feel now. That they had branded themselves as failures in a nation whose national religion is success. They were true dreamers of the American Dream and now they were paying for it. And it is ironic, considering our nation’s history, that this should be true. America was a country founded by failures who could not get along in the Old World and who came to a wilderness because there was simply no place else to go. America was a country settled by failures – – pioneers who could not adjust to the crowded life of the Eastern Seaboard and who went West because there was no place else for them. America was a country built by failures – – men and women who never attained the dream of owning their own business and being their own boss. Men and women whose lives were ruled by the alarm clock in the morning and the factory whistle in the evening. Years and years of history books have taught us that America was shaped by the great deeds of great men and women. It was not. America was shaped by the great deeds of ordinary men and women. On the Fourth

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