Above Politics

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 27 2012 @ 8:52pm


Anthony Lane eulogizes Neil Armstrong:

Nothing is more typical of Armstrong, or more estimable, than his decision not to go into politics; heaven knows what the blandishments, or the invitations, must have been. That is not to deprecate the service rendered by, say, John Glenn, but simply to remind ourselves that political ambition, like our other passions, is in the end a low sublunary affair; and that Armstrong, by dint of being the first man to tread not upon terra firma but upon the gray dust of terra incognita, rose above the fray and stayed there.

Likewise, Fallows observes:

What came afterward, in contrast to [Charles] Lindbergh's later years, was a life lived deliberately away from the limelight and with scrupulous attention to avoiding any controversy or indignity that might reflect upon the space program of which he'd played such a crucial part. He went back to Ohio and to academia; he avoided direct or indirect involvement in politics; he was careful about his business engagements; and he seemed always to be aware that he stood for more than himself. I saw people sheepishly ask him for autographs at the Wright Brothers centennial event. He politely declined — as he had for years, after he learned that they were being re-sold by scalpers.

I don't mean to idealize him; I don't know the details of his life well enough to speak with authority, and I'm sure that like everyone he had his contradictions. But the face and example he presented to the public seemed wholly admirable.

(Photo by Steven Duong)