I was reminded tonight, as I watched the services for President Gerald Ford and caught a few moments of Ben Stein’s appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, about the evening that I spent with him.
Most people know Ben from “Win Ben Stein’s Money” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Lesser known is the fact that Ben worked as a speech writer for Presidents Nixon and Ford, and is a conservative political commentator. He is also a life advocate.
A few years ago, he was the keynote speaker at Life Legal Defense Foundation’s (LLDF) annual dinner. LLDF provided support to my clients during the Wendland case, paying some actual costs (court filing fees, printing, binding, and postage, etc.). I attended the dinners (and still do when I can) and provided updates on the status of the case, answered questions, etc.
I was delighted to meet Ben and, with my good friend, Wesley J. Smith, spent a good deal of time before dinner talking with him about the factual details of the Wendland case. He was fascinated and completely unaware of so many aspects of the then-pending proceeding. He asked insightful questions and was genuinely interested in the answers.
When he took the podium after dinner, he was rather disoriented. He told those in attendance that he had a speech planned, but was abandoning it, in light of his conversation with Wesley and I. He noted that he was completely appalled by what he had learned during our discussion, to the point that he could not simply forge ahead with his planned remarks.
Instead, his address was impromptu and focused on his reaction to the true facts of the Wendland matter. He was horrified, for instance, to learn that the campaign to kill Robert Wendland was waged in spite of his cognitive abilities (Robert was neither comatose, in a permanent vegetative state, nor terminally ill). He was shocked at my recitation of some of the tactics employed by those on the other side of the case, and had no idea about the case’s motivating forces until Wesley and I educated him.
It was only after he left for the airport that I was informed he had excused himself from the dinner table, reporting when he returned that he had, in fact, become physically ill as a result of what he had learned during our conversation.
He was so moved by the revelations that he made a donation to LLDF and serves to this day as a member of the LLDF Board of Advisors.
Leave it to BigBob to sum up the evening’s events so succinctly on the way home. As we were driving along, still stunned by what had transpired, he turned to me and said, “Well, dear, now you have another claim to fame. Henceforth, you shall be known as ‘the woman who made Ben Stein puke.'” And every time we see Ben on television, he reminds me of that moniker.