Jewish World Review July 3, 2002/ 23 Tamuz 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Lewis Lapham, editor of Harper's, is likely an educated fellow who can crack witty jokes with George Plimpton and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. at Elaine's. But upon reading his monthly notebook in the magazine, a painful exercise of Hubert H. Humphrey (pre-LBJ castration) nostalgia, it's clear he's also a dope.
In an otherwise engaging essay on Thomas Paine in the July issue, Lapham comes up with this absurd statement: "Were Paine still within reach of the federal authorities, Attorney General John Ashcroft undoubtedly would prosecute him for blasphemy under a technologically enhanced version of the Alien and Sedition acts."
This nonsense from left-wing writers will never end? Unlike in past wartime administrations, not a single dissident journalist, elected official or Hollywood celebrity has been jailed, and there are a lot more of them to go around than in the days of John Adams, Abraham Lincoln or Woodrow Wilson.
Following Lapham's paranoid train of thought, a partial list of men and women wearing stripes today, besides the author himself, would include: Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, Robert Scheer, Thomas Oliphant, Richard Cohen, Alex Cockburn, Dana Milbank, James Ridgeway, Ted Rall, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Hendrik Hertzberg, Chris Matthews, Katha Pollitt, the publishers of The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, Alec Baldwin, Michael Moore, Michael Wolff, Julia Roberts, Rep. Cynthia McKinney and Susan Sontag.
As pernicious as all the above-mentioned are, the country ought to celebrate the Bush administration's adherence to the Constitution. So while a cocktail party comprised of these Ashcroft-bashers would indeed be a stinker, with "Free Jose Padilla" buttons passed out at the door instead of champagne flutes, I'm glad they haven't suffered the same fate as Eugene Debs.
The following reaction to Bush's historic June 24 speech, which strongly supported Israel's right to defend itself, but also outlined a process for a Palestinian state-as long as Yasir Arafat isn't involved in it-demonstrates the vitality of America's vibrant free press. (Bush's remarks were welcome not only for backing the sole Mideast democracy, but also setting the stage for an invasion of Iraq: With Ariel Sharon given the green light to eliminate Arab terrorists, the President is now free to complete plans for Saddam Hussein's ouster.)
The New York Times (6/25): "We are no fans of Mr. Arafat either, and we accept Mr. Bush's conclusion that Israel and the Palestinians will have little hope of achieving real peace as long as he's in charge. But making Mr. Arafat's fate the be-all and end-all of the Mideast peace process makes him look far too significant, and makes it all the harder for the Palestinians themselves to show him the door."
George Will (6/26): "President Bush's Monday statement was the most clearsighted U.S. intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis in the 35 years since the 1967 war, and perhaps in the 54 years since the founding of Israel. It enunciated a policy that makes eventual peace at least conceivable, and meanwhile frees the president to pursue the global anti-terrorism agenda articulated in five other speeches in the past year."
Mary McGrory (6/29): "In his long-awaited speech on the Middle East, George W. Bush accomplished one thing: He validated the wisdom of his original impulse to have nothing to do with the Middle East. His speech demonstrated he has nothing to contribute."
David Brooks (6/25): "George Bush has a novel approach to the Middle East; he tells the truth. Yesterday's statement wasn't filled with diplomatic jargon. It didn't try to reconcile six different policies through artful fudging. Instead the statement has the ring of honest conviction."
Last Sunday, Smith took a break from blowing air kisses to Ann Richards and fell back on another favorite: Tina Brown. She wrote: "Went to a swell lunch for Tina Brown at the Fifth Avenue apartment of Reba White Williams. It's always nice to go somewhere where someone is giving something for-no reason! Just fun and friendship...
"The guest of honor looks like a new woman since she shook off the shackles of editing Talk, a magazine that the all-knowing, all-smirking publishing world never gave a chance... I never saw Tina before without a worry line between her eyebrows. Now she looks serene. And, no doubt, she'll stay that way until asked to take over another publication, save a Hollywood studio or run for public office."
A few facts: Brown hardly "shook off the shackles" of editing Talk; she
instead blamed everyone but herself-Sept. 11, the media recession, appalled
readers-for the monthly's well-deserved demise. As for Brown's future,
currently she's damaged goods, and I can't think of a single publisher/owner
who'd hire the mercurial, throw-cash-down-the-toilet editor. But I do relish
Smith's dingbat idea of Tina's "saving" a movie studio, and no doubt Harvey
Weinstein agrees. As for a career in politics, that's more plausible: If
Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer and James Jeffords can win the voters'
approval, it's obvious the bar for public service is at an all-time low.
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JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press (www.nypress.com). Send your comments to him by clicking here.