It happens to us all

This is Mike Gravel campaigning now:

This is Mike Gravel as I had thought of him until the instant I saw the recent Democratic debate:

The picture is from his days as a Senator from Alaska in the 70s when he opposed the Vietnam war the way he is now opposing the war in Iraq. With people who have been in public view the whole time -- Teddy Kennedy, let's say, or Queen Elizabeth, or even Joe Biden, a US Senator from age 30 through his current 64 -- there is not the same before-and-after shock. We've watched them change. But when one steps off the national-media stage, as Gravel did in 1980, at age 50, after a loss in the Democratic primary in his run for a third term, and then steps back on a few decades later, those of us who were around for the first act are reminded that the clock never stops.