“Where Have you Gone, Joe-orge Dimaggio Norris? Our Nation Turns its Lonely Eyes to You…Woo, Woo, Woo”

August 24, 2012


WASHINGTON, D.C. (exclusive) by Ivy Harper

What in the heck has happened to Nebraska ethics?

Just in the past few years, we have massive financial shenanigans from the likes of:

First, the NU Foundation

Second, David Sokol


Fourth, Jim Clifton & Gallup

Does Nebraska have a reconfigured “O” Street Gang made up of Omaha corporate titans and Lincoln’s iconic street CEO’s. Yikes!

In the mid-1990’s, I answered my land-line to the voice of Eunice Kennedy Shriver who with that classic ‘pok the caw in Hawvrd yawd” voice told me she’d just finished reading my best-selling biography of now-Senate candidate, Bob Kerrey, called “Waltzing Matilda.”

She told me that the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation – which launched “Special Olympics” – was seeking an in-house writer and she wanted to interview me for the position. I said, “Thank you and yes, that would be wonderful.” Then, Eunice Kennedy Shriver noted, “And I see that you’re from Ted’s hometown, too,…Lincoln, Nebraska. Well, that’s a definite plus.” I got her point. At that juncture in American History, if you said you hailed from the Cornhusker state, you were gold; automatically considered trustworthy, talented, industrious, and ethical. Now, not so much.

One week later, Mrs. Shriver greeted me in her New York Avenue, Washington, D.C. “Special Olympics” office for an in-depth interview for the newly-created position of Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation “Writer-in-Residence.”

Her first question as I nervously sat down in the vast window-filled room with views of the White House and pictures of world leaders and Special Olympians: “Now, tell me about your first job out of college at the New York Times.

“Oops, I thought. She transposed a line on my resume.” You see, after graduating from the UN-L J-School, I worked for one year at the York News Times for the late Don Gillen before I moved to Omaha to work on the successful Democratic campaign of former Rep. John J. Cavanaugh.

For a split second, I thought, “OMG, that’s the real reason, Mrs. Shriver actually called me in to compete for the position; she thought I worked for the iconic Grey Lady in Manhattan.”

This was not going to be easy but I had to come right out and tell her the truth. She roared and then repeated the question, “Okay, Miss Harper, tell me about your year at the York, Nebraska, News-Times.”

I’ve always said that I will be forever grateful to the YNT for getting me the Kennedy gig because the two of us bonded over that mix-up. Still, I’ll never forget what Eunice Kennedy Shriver said when I finished telling her about the one-man newspaper band I was out in little old York:

“Well, anyway, I brought you in because I like your writing, you’ve got a Ted Sorensen sensibility, and you’re from Nebraska. Enough said.”

This bears repeating: Nebraska’s national reputation no longer signifies ethics and excellence. Just think for a moment, my Friends, about how tragic that loss really is.

And for this change in Nebraska’s national reputation, we can thank NELNET, Mr. Sokol, the NU Foundation, and now, Jim Clifton. Oh, and I’m being sardonic, by the way, just in case you can’t tell.

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