Enemy of the Week

For Pete’s Sake

It's safe again to resume more traditional forms of sniping.

10.25.02

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The two Johns are in custody, meaning martial law has been lifted in the national capital area and it's safe again to show one's face in broad daylight and to pump one's own gasoline. Or more to the point, it's safe again to resume more traditional forms of sniping. The New York Times leads the way, informing Republicans that DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe "describes Jeb Bush" as the Democratic Party's "top target." In an interview with the paper McAuliffe boastfully added that Democrats have learned to stalk the commander in chief himself. "Wherever President Bush goes, we're on TV before he gets there, while he's there and the day after, every city." And to think McAuliffe continues to stalk his prey even though he collected an $18 million reward some years ago. It appears now that that was just the first installment.

Two days ago we knew nothing about the two Johns. Today we know more about them than we do about Winston Churchill. Already the Immigration and Naturalization Service is under counterattack for allowing the likes of John Lee Malvo into the U.S. from Jamaica. But so far no one has picked up on his strange resemblance to the older brother in an insufferable seventies sitcom, "Diff'rent Strokes." Meanwhile, to believe a Washington Post headline, John Allen Muhammad is a creation of Arthur Miller: "A Failed Businessman And Frustrated Father" he's called. Because capital punishment-shy Maryland may be reluctant to feature Muhammad in a revival of Death of a Salesman, efforts are under way to stage his trial and execution in Virginia.

Insiders are aghast at Mr. Muhammad's links to Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. The world now awaits Farrakhan sympathizer Jude Wanniski's verdict. If word comes that neighbors once overheard Mr. Muhammad complain about high taxes, Mr. Muhammad may have found a sympathizer on the supply side.

Even more disturbing is Mr. Muhammad's military past. As yet no one has suggested that this war veteran could be suffering from the Gulf War Syndrome. But give it time. Symptoms aren't always immediately detectable. For now most of the attention has been on Mr. Muhammad's "expert marksman" skill with military rifles. Gun control thus emerges as more urgent than ever, not merely in the public sphere but also in the military. It is amazing, in retrospect, that the effort to curb the sale and use of assault weapons had exempted our armed forces. But that's history. The goal of all responsible anti-gun enthusiasts from now on will be to disarm our military once and for all. Some might argue that we should model our military on the Belgian armed forces, which do their training with toy weaponry. But that might not be the solution either, not since the campaign that was recently launched in New York state to outlaw the production and sale of toy guns as well.

London bobby style deportment may be the way to go, i.e., hands behind one's back and no police batons, please. For now, let's restrict any club-like weapons to the cricket and baseball fields.

Though after the recent atrocity in San Francisco we're having second thoughts on that score too. We don't mean the jolly Giants' latest bludgeoning of the holy Angels. A 16-4 victory doesn't do you much good next time you're in a one-run game. No, our concern is the pre-game extra-innings MasterCard was allowed to host before Wednesday's World Series game, purporting to honor the ten most memorable "moments" in Major League Baseball history. What utter nonsense. By definition, a moment is not something that lasts more than a few seconds. Yet here the credit card creeps were honoring streaks that lasted weeks and years. As for the few actual moments that cracked the top ten, viewers weren't shown anything more than the snippet they had already seen in countless commercials (e.g. Lou Gehrig's farewell) or informed of the key details (e.g. that what made Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit World Series home run heroic was that he hit it on bum legs).

But that's the least of it. Most inexplicable was the decision to honor a baseball felon and to incite San Francisco Democrats in the stands to cheer for him with the same gusto they normally reserve for impeached former presidents. In best Al Capone fashion, Pete Rose was so moved by the ovation he received that he nearly confessed to his crimes, only to realize there's no reason to admit to anything lest it cost him the support of the patsies who adore their gangster heroes. Sad to say, the closest Pete will ever get to Hall of Fame status is this EOW award Enemy Central now confers on him. In all, not a bad career: From Rookie of the Year in 1963 to Enemy of the Week in 2002. It's been a tremendous head-first downhill slide.

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