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Jewish World Review June 4, 2002 / 23 Sivan, 5762

Tony Snow

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Musings | I recently spent about a week in Berlin, taping an upcoming Fox News Channel special on Ronald Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech.

Fifteen years ago, in a moment that crystallized the showdown between two ideologies: one, a gospel of freedom; the other, of subjugation and fear.

Reagan ignored the advice of his top counselors and called for the fall of the Wall. The dream came true a little more than two years later. Back then, a no-man's land of green space separated the two Berlins. Nearly 200 people died trying to cross it.

Since then, banks, offices and shops have sunk foundations into the killing fields. The building facing the old communist party hotel now sells Rolls Royces. Berlin is a much changed place, unified and bustling. Yet Ronald Reagan, rests in California, unaware.

Last month, Congress awarded gold medals to Reagan and his wife, Nancy -- and thus acknowledge what Berliners know too well: Ideas matter but only if one has the courage to back conviction with action.

The Enron scandal has left Enron a shell of its old self, but it has all but decimated the Arthur Andersen accounting firm. The one-time financial giant is doing all it can to stay alive -- begging clients not to leave, promising to work harder and provide more bang per buck.

But, with the Justice Department seeking criminal convictions against the firm, things don't look good. And now, comes the kind of news that under normal circumstances might seem trivial and amusing, but now could prove positively crushing.

It seems that some genius at Andersen put together a video touting the company's virtues. Among the highlights of the marketing tape is a five-year-old clip of the then-chairman of the Haliburton Company. The man without irony praises the firm for providing "over and above just the sort of normal by the books auditing arrangement."

Who is this man, this celebrity? None other than Dick Cheney who, in his present job, is in no position or mood to be serving as a pitchman for Andersen.

Cynthia McKinney, a brash, goofy Democrat from Georgia, feels vindicated. She says President Bush knew in advance of the September 11th plot, and looked the other way so his dad and some pals could get rich off construction and defense contracts. She's citing reports the White House received intelligence in August to that Osama bin Laden wanted to hijack some jets.

Other Democrats, hoping to dent the president's political armor, are describing the news as disturbing, grave and in need of full public investigation.

I don't know what the president knew or when he knew it, but I'm pretty sure this story cuts two ways: If George W. Bush did know about the attacks and failed to act, he won't make it through the year as president, and might invite prosecution for treason.

If, on the other hand, members of Congress are exploiting a sketchy tale for crass, unpatriotic political advantage they're not only doing what comes naturally -- they're also being idiots and jerks.

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