Tony Blankley

It sort of makes sense that in a country that invented instant coffee, instant mashed potatoes, drive-through fast food restaurants and the microwave, Nicole Richie would be released from jail last Thursday after serving 82 minutes of a four-day sentence for driving under the influence of drugs.

I'm not a particularly vengeful sort, but 82 minutes is not a jail term. A girl like Nicole probably spends more time getting her nails done than her jail done.

Criminals used to be sent to penitentiaries to pay penance by contemplating on the errors of their ways. Even if Nicole has a steel-trap mind, 82 minutes doesn't provide much time for contemplation and the development of a sense of regret.

I understand that everything moves at a faster pace today. People are finished making love before they have had dinner together for the first time. They have second careers by the time they are 30, third wives by the time they are 40.

Even winemakers have figured out how to make excellent, complex wines without that bothersome 10 to 20 years of aging. Just crush the grape and ship the juice to market. They no longer need a cave to age their wine -- a short ride on a UPS plane will do.

Things are moving so fast that just last month the nation was outraged at Paris Hilton's short five-day jail sentence, while this month no one cares about Ms. Richie's 82-minute sentence. Get with it. The times are changing, old man.

If 60 is the new 45 when it comes to ageing, I suspect 23 is the new 45 when it comes to being unhip. If in the 1960s we were enjoined not to believe anyone over 30, it can't be long before people will have experienced too much of a fast-paced life by 20 to be trusted by the kids.

There is some cruel irony in the fact that as life expectancy gets longer and longer, Americans seem to be compelled to be in more and more of a hurry to get on with and get over with each piece of life -- including their precious youth.

A few decades ago, when life expectancy was, say 70ish, a short jail term was 30 days and a short career was 30 years. Now, with life expectancy 80ish, a short jail term is less than an hour and a half, and a career is as short as you want.

Compacting is fine for some things, but I'm sorry, some things should not -- and, in fact, cannot -- be compacted. The point of a jail term is to punish -- by denying the prisoner the free use of his or her time for a long enough period that there is such a sense of loss as to feel denied the continuity of a free existence and the permanent loss of a valuable part of one's life. Even in a young life, 82 minutes simply doesn't measure up.


Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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