The second Evans-Novak column on May 16, 1963 ("Twilight of the Moderates"), on the civil rights struggle in Birmingham, Ala., cast a longer shadow. It revealed that the Kennedy administration "worked hard to postpone" Martin Luther King Jr.'s campaign in Birmingham, without success. Based on our reporting, the column correctly predicted "lethal, combustible elements of the dreaded race riot are near at hand."
I today continue shoe-leather reporting -- but with limitations. At age 60, I stopped entering war zones. I still occasionally go on the campaign trail, but not nearly so much as in past years. (When I would board a press bus during the 2008 primary season, reporters some 50 years my junior would gaze at me as though Banquo's Ghost had entered their midst). Nevertheless, at age 77, my principal professional endeavor is to find out what is happening behind the scenes in politics and government.
The longevity record of 57 years for syndicated political columnists is held by David Lawrence, whose life and column ended in 1973 when he was 84. Like him, I would like to die in the saddle without retiring. But Lawrence, founder of U.S. News & World Report, had done little reporting since he covered President Woodrow Wilson for The Associated Press. I cannot write a column without reporting, and hope I can continue to do so and newspapers see fit to print me so that I can celebrate my 50th anniversary. In case I don't make it, however, I thought it proper to note 45 years of columns.