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Jewish World Review Oct. 19, 2001 /2 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Michael Ledeen

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Consumer Reports

Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation. -- AS we enter the second month of war, we need to keep score on the behavior of our elected leaders. Who are the new Churchills? Who are the new Chamberlains?

The cherished Wuss awards, regularly bestowed on leading appeasers during the Cold War, have been gathering dust for more than a decade, but the brilliant performance of congressional leaders in recent days convinced the award committee it was time to resume. Dedicated as all Americans are in these trying times to evenhandedness and bipartisanship, the committee's members (names concealed for obvious reasons) have voted the first Wuss awards of the 21st century to House Speaker Hastert, Senate Majority Leader Daschle, and Senate Minority Leader Lott.

Lott was an obvious choice, since he proposed to shut down the World's Greatest Deliberative Body within seconds of the first report of anthrax spores in the Hart Senate Office Building. The committee was convinced that this impressively rapid response showed that Lott had anticipated a threat to Senate security, and had carefully planned his dramatic call for instant appeasement. Not surprisingly, other leaders had to scramble to try to match his speedy and dramatic call for surrender.

Hastert actually managed to go one step further, for his passionate call for House closure came despite a total lack of any threat to himself or any other House member. Not a single spore had been found in any House office building. Not a single staffer had been infected, or even sprinkled. Yet Hastert was more than equal to the challenge, and the committee was unanimous in its admiration for his dynamic leadership.

Daschle took some time to catch up, even though his office holds the current record for spore count and staff infection. Perhaps because his office is in a part of the Hart Building, which is served by a separate ventilation system (and thus most other offices are not affected by anything in Daschle's ducts), he may have felt he would appear insufficiently Solomonic if he asked other senators to stay home instead of doing the nation's business. But he overcame his initial dithering and issued a strong call to close down the whole thing. Committee members felt he was entitled to a Wuss of his own despite his early uncertainty.

With both Senate leaders on board, one might have imagined quick passage of the measure, but the forces of appeasement were unexpectedly gunned down by Texas senator Phil Gramm, who proclaimed his intention to stay and work, and even went so far as to say it was more important than ever for the Senate to remain in session, as an example of civic courage.

For the moment, no definitive decision has been reached in the Senate, which will reconvene on Thursday morning before closing for "medical research."

The committee had hoped to be able to reward the entire Senate with a collective Wuss. This is no longer possible, but committee members remain confident that other national leaders will soon be able to add a newly polished Wuss to their trophy shelves in the very near future.

JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Tocqueville on American Character . Comment by clicking here.


10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen