Nagging Questions As Ted Williams Saga Unfolds

Why come to grips with a big, messy social problem like homelessness?

So much easier — isn’t it? — to shower job offers, cash payments and network-TV time on one homeless guy who happens to have a really nice voice?

This is perfect: the low-cost, feel-good way of addressing America’s nagging ills, just in time for the small-government Tea Party era in Congress.

Pick a single poster boy for every national problem. Then lavish that lucky sucker with extravagant generosity.

It won’t do squat to solve homelessness or illiteracy or rotten schools or teenage pregnancy or drug addiction. But just think how good all of us will feel after the morning-TV interviews.

No diss on Ted Williams, the Brooklyn-born panhandler in Columbus, Ohio, who’s just been crowned Media Sensation of the Week. His local TV station did a segment on the homeless ex-radio announcer and his God-given pipes.

Thank the stars he didn’t have a cold that day! It all took off from there: the stories and the attaboys and the far-flung generosity, including an avalanche of voiceover opportunities and a sweet announcing gig with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The man has clearly lived hard. The grip of addiction, the droopy economy, the cost of real estate, bad strokes of luck – they’ve taken their toll on millions. Williams’ own demons seem to include repeated brushes with the law. dug out a rap sheet that included theft, robbery, escape, forgery and drug-possession charges.


He’s homeless. And he has a beautiful voice.

Everybody loves a good up-from-the-sidewalk story, and this one is irresistible.

In a great emotional scene on Thursday, after a battle between “The Today Show” and The Early Show,” the Homeless Man With the Golden Voice was reunited with his 90-year Brooklyn mom.

“My prodigal son has finally come home,” said his mother, Julia.

Top that!

So the next time some do-gooder talks about addressing perplexing social ills, maybe we should grumble about “tough times … less government …budget cuts” — then learn a lesson from the sweet-talking homeless man.

Let’s hold a lottery. Let the saving start with one.

One junkie. One preggers 16-year-old. One family with nowhere to sleep.

It’ll make us all feel better. And Nielsen won’t complain.

Ellis Henican is an amNewYork and Newsday columnist and a Fox News contributor. E-mail Follow him at