gradually absorbed into the manhood of the tribe. ThenAmerican system of schools, styles (punk or prep), andngraduations may be the least effective that could have beenndevised. Where are the wise older men who give instruchonsninto our tribal lore (college professors?), the gruelingnordeals that give proof of manhood (SAT’s? GRE’s?)?nIt is small wonder that at most high schools and collegesnthe most respected men on campus are the coaches. “Bear”nBryant and the late Woody Hayes were forces more thannhuman, and the mild-mannered Dean Smith (North Carolina’snbasketball coach) was—and, I believe, is—revered asnthe fount of all virtues. Crihcs of professionalized collegensports generally miss the point when they complain aboutnthe unwholesome influence of big-time football and basketballnon campus. It is precisely in sports that boys mightnlearn the ancient tribal secrets of America: that winning isneverything, that the rewards for success in any endeavor gononly to some combination of natural talent and hard worknthat is denied most people.nWhat, on the other hand, do aspiring men learn innnonathletic subjects? It is hard to say, exactly. They do notnlearn the history, foreign languages, and literatures thatnmight inihate them into an entire civilization. Some arenclever enough to regard the whole affair as a sham and learnnall too early that fawning upon professors is a surer route tonsuccess than studying books. The most successful cynicsnquickly become class president and, after graduation, learnnto play the same games in a broker’s olEce or as lawyers withnpohtical ambitions. This system of institutionalized toadying,nthe art of mediocrity we call higher education, goes anlong way toward explaining the power exercised by youngnfoxes and weasels in every profession in which there isnmoney or power to gain.nThings do not, generally, turn out so well for the youngnlions who try to become men the old-fashioned way. A fewnof them draw large salaries in professional sports, most donnot; but even those who do have rarely taken the trouble tondevelop much more than physical skills. Len Bias, beforentaking his fatal overdose of an illegal drug, was described asna “student” at the University of Maryland, despite the factnthat he had not completed even a phys ed or ed psychncourse in the previous two semesters.nHow much are college coaches to blame for the poornperformance and dismal life-histories of college athletes? Innthe case of Mr. Bias, Coach Drizell has a reputation fornsubordinating everything to one object only: a winningnseason. But even the most ruthless coaches function only asncamp guards in a much larger system. University officials,nprominent alumni, and state legislators are the parties to benheld responsible when the time comes for a sort of NurembergnTrial.nHere, then, is the paradox. High school and collegensports (and the increasingly effeminate armed forces) providenthe only initiation rituals for American boys, some ofnwhom have lived in sterile suburbs under institutionalncircumstances (school, day care, YMCA classes) all theirnlife; and yet, those who devote themselves to sports typicallynemerge, by the age of 21, as both ignorant and unprincipled.n(While many recent MBA’s are equally ignorant andneven less-principled—that goes without saying—they succeednin the only way in which we measure success.)nSome boys do turn out better—we have seen them:nhealthy, intelligent, with some of the intellectual, moral,nand physical tastes that used to characterize the gentleman.nThere are still creditable military officers to remind us of anlost era of American soldiers. In any era of human history,nreal men of any kind are a minority, but if the minority isnlarge enough, as it was at Sparta, at Rome, or in the BritishnEmpire, then an entire society is pulled, perhaps unwillingly,nin the right direction.nThere is a good deal of truth in Gaetano Mosca’snargument that a civilization is characterized by its elitenclass. If King Leonidas can be taken to represent Sparta,nCato Rome, and the Duke of Wellington the BritishnEmpire, then the United States is in a terrible state. Thenmost representative figures these days are schemers andnconnivers—“prevaricators and prognosticators,” as CaptainnBoyle would call them. Any list would have to include, innpolitics, such worthies as Howard Baker and Jim Wright.nBusiness might be represented by Lee laccoca, famous fornhis ability to hoodwink politicians into advancing himncredit, or—better yet—Ivan Boesky (Chrysler, after all,nstill makes products, while Boesky dealt only in deals). Inn”the arts” we are treated to the spectacle of self-advertisersnlike Norman Mailer, the late Andy Warhol, and LeonardnBernstein.nBut why go on? We live in an age that has lost its sense ofnshame. A good and wise President is not embarrassed to bencalled “the great communicator”—as if he were an advertisingngenius—and his former associates will do anything tontrade on their familiarity with the President. Mr. Stockmanntells tales out of school, and Mr. Deever does not even try tonpretend that his influence-peddling was not immoral: Was itnillegal, will he have to pay?—that is the only question.nThe shamelessness and effeminacy of public men was thenmost salient quality of the latest Iranian fiasco. Out ofnweakness, the administration went back on its sworn wordnnot to deal with terrorists—a terrible mistake. But what isnthe response? The press, aided by the Democratic majority,nseize the opportunity to emasculate a Presidency in its lastntwo years. The security and welfare of the United Statesn—so badly damaged by the Watergate affair—are oncenagain threatened and by the same vermin prating of thenpublic’s right to know. Even if Mr. Gorbachev seized WestnGermany, Sam Donaldson would not allow it to interferenwith his dreams of book contracts, Pulitzer Prizes, andnmovie rights. The President’s men were, if anything, evennworse. Secretary Shultz tried to stick in his thumb and pullnout a bigger plum in the form of increased control overnforeign policy. What a good boy he was to oppose covertnaction! Robert McEarlane—a key player in the wholenscandal—displayed his mettle by allegedly attempting suicide.nOn the most charitable interpretation, McEarlanenbungled the job as badly as he bungled the arms deal. Nownhostile correspondents like Daniel Schorr now treat himnwith benign contempt. In response to questions about hisnfuture plans, McEarlane confesses, “I love government.” Asnif we hadn’t guessed.nIn all this disgraceful episode, one man did his duty andnhas so far attempted neither to shift the blame nor turn thenaffair to his own profit. That man is Oliver North. If we cannbelieve administration sources, this young Marine colonelnnnJUNE 1987/9n