Andy Rooney, the pixieish commentator at the end of most "60 Minutes" broadcasts on Sunday evening, admitted that he didn't know anything about one of the biggest national issues of the day.
Speaking at the Naval Academy for a $3,000 fee at one of the privately endowed Forrestal lectures (named for James Forrestal, the nation's first secretary of defense who also had served as Navy secretary), the commentator with an opinion on everything was baffled by a question from the audience of 4,000 during a Q & A session after Rooney's 45-minute speech.
My former colleague, retired Washington Post real estate editor John B. Willmann, who was there, said a midshipman asked about restoring the male image in the wake of the recent Ann Landers poll showing that vastly more women would prefer tender cuddling to a full sexual act.
Rooney was momentarily speechless. He consulted two high-ranking naval officers behind him on the platform. Then he turned to the audience and said, with no apparent embarrassment, by Willmann's account, that he doesn't read Landers and therefore was uninformed on an issue that has occupied columnists from Judy Mann and Bill Raspberry to Art Buchwald.
At the outset of Rooney's speech, according to a news account in the Annapolis Capital, he told the future officers that they must deal with "people like me, who don't like the military, who don't like people in it, including people like yourselves. . . . "
The midshipmen, by Willmann's account, gave Rooney a standing ovation.