Jewish World Review Oct. 3, 2002 / 27 Tishrei, 5763

Bob Tyrrell

Bob Greene
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

A man above the law, a bully


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | So Sen. Robert Torricelli bows out in disgrace. As I watched his 30-minute farewell address and testimonial to himself, his wolfish head bent over the microphones, his dark eyes suspiciously darting from one camera to the other, I was reminded of Virginia Woolf's old line, "He's not as nice as he looks." At one point, he bawled, "I'm a human being." Alas, it is true. Genetic engineering might have more to recommend it than I had hitherto thought.

Torricelli is, despite all the love he has for himself, a nasty little man, given to delusions of grandeur. In his embarrassing speech of conge he blubbered, blinking back the tears, "Somewhere today in one of several hospitals in New Jersey, some woman's life is going to be changed because of the mammography centers I created." And more, "Somewhere all over New Jersey, some senior citizen who doesn't even know my name lives in a senior center that I helped build."

Oh, unfortunate senior citizen -- Sen. Torricelli cares for thee. Do you know how this loving public servant addressed the aging Sen. Frank Lautenberg, before a group of fellow Democrats at a closed-door caucus meeting in the Capitol in 1999? According to the May 7, 2001, New Republic, "The Torch" addressed him thus: "You're a f---ing piece of sh-t, and I'm going to cut your b-lls off."

Needless to say, this fat little butter ball of a foul-mouthed senator was not actually going to visit violence on the elderly Lautenberg. Lautenberg even in old age could stand his ground against this impostor.

Torricelli is a political bully who uses political power to do what he is physically impotent to do. As the months have passed since he was severely reprimanded by the Senate Ethic Committee for taking gifts from a former campaign contributor, the evidence of his coarseness mounts. For instance, there is the tape showing Torricelli accompanied by a shadowy thug hounding the aforementioned campaign contributor. Doubtless there was more evidence to come before he cut and ran.

I have had my own experiences with his bully-boy tactics. After The American Spectator published a well-substantiated report in 1998 that the New Jersey senator had received $136,000 in hard money from the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a group involved in the murder of American servicemen in Iran and in the subsequent takeover of our embassy in Teheran, he threatened us with a libel suit through his agile lawyer Abbe Lowell. I ignored his threat.

When empty threats of libel did not work, Torricelli led in ginning up a year-long government investigation of the magazine, complete with a grand jury to look into our revelations of the misbehavior of his friend Bill Clinton, another of Lowell's unsuccessful clients.

It all began on a gray Sunday morning in Washington on ABC's "This Week With Sam & Cokie." There, Torricelli denounced the Spectator, accusing us of money laundering, which is a felony. Then he wrote Attorney General Janet Reno and demanded an investigation. The charges they settled on were witness-tampering and threatening murder -- the last, perhaps, provoked by our deadly prose. Of course, unlike the senator and his friends in the Clinton administration, we cooperated fully with the authorities and were completely vindicated. Thus here I am today, a free and happy man, while Torricelli shuffles off into ignominy.

"There are times in life you rise above self," he said as he maundered on utterly absorbed with self -- not even sparing us the story about his patriotism as a 5-year-old. "When did we become such an unforgiving people?" he asked, his dirge taking on themes eerily reminiscent of the likewise disgraced Rep. James Trafficant bidding Congress adieu.

Despite the Senate's reprimand, he even boasted of his integrity, "How did we become a society where a person can build credibility their entire life and have it questioned by someone who has none?"

That reference was apparently to his former contributor whose testimony convinced prosecutors of Torricelli's guilt, as their recently divulged documents attest. In our 1998 piece on him, our writer Kenneth R. Timmerman noted: "Torricelli has never had a reputation for impeccable probity. During his stint on the House Intelligence Committee, he was several times accused of publishing classified intelligence information to suit his own political agenda."

Torricelli had no "credibility." That is why the Democrats forced him out of his re-election campaign with their anonymous leaks. He was losing badly, and despite his delusions of being a tough guy he did not have the courage to fight.

Now the Democrats, in keeping with their behavior in the 2000 presidential campaign, want to change the rules of the race. They feel that in New Jersey they should have two chances to beat the Republican candidate. New Jersey law says Torricelli withdrew too late for another Democrat to replace him, but the Democrats want to replace him with Lautenberg.

Perhaps if Lautenberg is doing badly in a week or so they will, notwithstanding the law, seek to run yet another candidate. In a way, the Democrats of New Jersey had in Torricelli a candidate just like them, a man above the law, a bully.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

09/26/02: Is Bob Greene a victim of an anti-Clinton backlash?
09/19/02: I knew Mafiosi and
09/12/02: Chickens and poseurs
09/05/02: Sympathizing with the Europols
08/29/02: 9-11 did not change us forever
08/22/02: Public persons frivoling with serious matters
08/15/02: Beachcombing among the fat of the land
08/08/02: They pave the way for corruption, not personal responsibility
08/01/02: Believing the unbelievable
07/25/02: The congressional posse comitatus
07/18/02: Cosmopolitan Arab fashion
07/11/02: What the prez actually knows
07/04/02: The vindication of a truly original thinker
06/27/02: The perfect book for Hillary
06/20/02: To say that they were ordinary is not to slight them
06/13/02: Daschle must begin to act like an adult
06/06/02: Lack of "intelligence" --- and sheer stupidity
05/30/02: Revealing a carefully guarded media secret
05/23/02: In these times, thank Heaven for Clinton!
05/16/02: Fast Times at the Church of the Nativity
05/09/02: "Name the Prettiest Suicide Bomber"
05/02/02: Vindication for the Boy Scouts
04/25/02: A topic almost no other columnist will touch
04/18/02: 'Conventional Wisdom' --- and those who defy it
04/11/02: Let the Sun shine in
04/05/02: Hooded men of color in sheets
04/01/02: A McCain-Feingold Act for Hollywood
03/21/02: Yakkin' on Yates
03/15/02: No role for Paul Volcker in Enron: the movie
03/07/02: My membership in the Communist Party U.S.A.
02/27/02: This award is bestowed by 'contrarians'
02/21/02: Mike Tyson: Made for Washington?
02/14/02: Enron as underdog?
02/07/02: Freed from the presence of money -- hard or soft -- most politicians would be just as bad
01/31/02: Needed: Bush to make a preemptive strike against his enemies . Ones who'd like to see him fail even during war
01/24/02: Hucksters will move on to make their next marks
01/17/02: Debonair prez should begin to do the High Life
01/10/02: Move over Twinkies --- "the acne medicine made him do it!"
01/03/02: Leaving the Nazis looking comparatively humane
12/27/01: A "self-made journalist"
12/20/01: Calamities and unanticipated benefits
12/13/01: America's grief ought not to give comfort to those who caused it
12/06/01: Leahy, the strict civil libertarian!? A short-term exploiter of the Constitution is more like it
11/29/01: Welcome to Afghan, Maryland?
11/26/01: So, why don't more folks hate us?
11/15/01: America's quagmire and other certainties
11/09/01: No longer the smug statists, the prodigal Keynesians?
11/01/01: The New Seriousness
10/25/01: Bright lights and the Taliban
10/18/01: Is bin-Laden propaganda from Western intelligence?
10/12/01: No yellow ribbons
10/05/01: Bubba's back --- again!
09/28/01: Exposing peacetime's frauds
09/21/01: So protected, we're vulnerable
09/14/01: At Barbara Olson's home
09/11/01: Duh! All conservatives are racists
08/31/01: Arafat's terrorists have created their own hell
08/24/01: Time for some political prophecy
08/16/01: They claim to be doing so much good
08/10/01: Visiting the source of the White House braintrust
08/03/01: Morality and reality
07/31/01: Blinded by success?
07/24/01: The latest Kennedy capitulation in Massachusetts
07/13/01: Talk about tawdry
07/06/01: Delighting in the Dictator
06/29/01: The Godphobes
06/21/01: Fashionable Washington is sempiternally in a stew
06/15/01: The limits of hypocrisy
06/08/01: Flagging our general apathy

© 2001, Creators Syndicate