Editor's Desk

Royal Pains

A Washington inquisition, the death of a princess, and other morality plays.

By 2.12.02

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LET'S BE ROLLED: If you want your blood to boil, read Byron York's dissection of the ongoing Democratic effort to destroy the nomination of Charles Pickering to the federal bench. Pay special attention to the inquisitional demeanor of Sen. John Edwards. This Southern charmer is one bad man, and he wants to be our next president. He'd destroy Atticus Finch if he had to. If the White House and Senate GOP tolerate being rolled by his likes, they'd better come up with a new slogan.

SO LONG WINTER: Aren't you surprised that at least the outdoor portion of the Winter Olympics hasn't been canceled? So you might have thought if you'd noticed an op-ed last Friday entitled "Winterless Olympics" and co-authored by Salt Lake City's Democratic mayor and writer Bill McKibben, a professional scold. Their dire warning the day this year's games were set to open: "[T]he future of the Winter Games is in danger, because winter itself is in danger." It's the Kyoto syndrome, in other words, as seen in "computer models [that] show clearly that, of all seasons, winter may change the most." So let's cut energy consumption and resist those "fossil fuel lobbyists" in Washington. According to the mayor, the people of Salt Lake City are already "committed" (whatever that means) to cut CO2 emissions to meet the goals of Kyoto Protocol, "to which all industrialized nations except the United States (under the Bush administration) have voiced commitment" -- and we know what that means: Posturing is all that matters to the doomsday professionals.

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE: The death of Britain's Princess Margaret has been a boon to a different set of scolds. The long obituary in the Washington Post couldn't get off of the subject of her heavy smoking and drinking, a subject the New York Times' -- in keeping with its superior command of the obituary form -- handled with greater subtlety. Instead, it included such morsels as the time the princess referred to my favorite American ethnic group as "pigs" or the fact that a lover she broke up with committed suicide 18 months later. Best was this anecdote:

"Mr. Aronson relates in 'Princess Margaret' (1977) how at a party in Beverly Hills she once told Judy Garland through an intermediary that she would like to hear her sing. Angered by the form of the request, Miss Garland replied, 'Tell her I'll sing if she christens a ship first.'"

That's the spirit.

And in that spirit, the best writing on Princess Margaret was filed by Mark Steyn, the most knowing and fearless voice and wit in all existence. But as with any master of the tour de force, the effect is ruined if he's read in small doses. So for the right sort of Steyn soudbite, read the whole thing.

SOUR MEOWS: Kitty Kelley's streak of bad luck continues. The day the Princess died she was complaining in a special letter to the Washington Post about the nice things George Will had said about Queen Elizabeth five days earlier. She blasted the queen for being mean to the late Princess Diana, for refusing to step into a Catholic church, for staying away from the mourning for Diana -- and for never crying in public, not even at her own father's funeral.

In fact, according to Ms. Kitty, the only time the queen ever betrayed emotion was when the royal yacht was decommissioned in 1997. Fortunately, she doesn't tell us if the queen is wrong on the subject of Elton John as well. But what was it that Kelley revealed in her book The Royals several years ago? Something about the queen's active romance with her prince? Might it not have dawned on Kelley that the royal yacht had been the scene of some of the couple's happiest moments?

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About the Author
Wlady Pleszczynski is editorial director of The American Spectator and the editor of AmSpec Online.