It's an awesome undertaking, this hunt for an Enemy of the Year fox. Yet where would we be if we didn't ride with our hounds? Dozens of e-mailed denunciations have filtered into our data bank, which now rivals in size the 12,000 pages the Iraqis dumped on December 8. Unlike Saddam's filibuster, our store of information even contains nuggets of substance. That's the scary part. These perps are real. Their main crime might be that they're all old hat, acts as tired as Lillian Hellman's famously aged face. No one had to round up the usual suspects. They'd never left last year's holding cell. It's an act of mercy just to deal with them again. They're finalists by definition. They seem to live to be chased. We're the real victims.
And so let's trot them out again, starting with the exciting, charismatic likes of Tom Daschle, Dick Gephardt, James Earl Carter, Chuck Schumer, Pat Leahy, Phil Donahue, Carville & Begala, Jesse Jackson, Terry McAuliffe and a cartload or two of other yada-yadas tipsily steered by the Rev. Bill Moyers. Special thanks to the bug sprayer who remembered to nominate Sidney Blumenthal.
Meanwhile, not even a fortnight after he quit the presidential chase, Al Gore is all but forgotten, appearing on no more than two suspect ballots, in final confirmation of Enemy Central's ability to scare off voters. By contrast, Bill and Hill show up in almost every denunciation, often more than once, sometimes with the suggestion they be named Enemies of the Year, Decade, Century, and Millennium in perpetuity. For starters. You know the Democratic Party is in trouble when Enemy Central starts facing an enemy shortage.
These are times that require creative solutions. One such is to search out a Friend of the Year. One voter does just that by paying homage to the "anonymous genius among the Democrats who organized that lovely 'memorial' tribute to Sen. Paul Wellstone." But for that today "Walter Mondull" would be controlling the Senate for his party. Soon enough, alas, that same voter loses his ability to smile, as he quickly hands out the "Support of Murderous Dictators Award" to Susan Sarandon, Woody Harrelson and Sean Penn, among other "Hollywood ding-dongs." In sealing the deal on the limits of friendship, he notes that "'Our Friends the Saudis' have excelled this year as Enemies." How long before they circulate in President Bush's Axis?
Trent Lott was recommended for further punishment, which is so unfair and inhuman it has inspired us to come up with a constructive approach to the Patty Murray situation. Sure she hasn't received the attention she deserves for declaring herself a founding member of the Osama bin Laden harem. But remember, we need to think creatively. The old, unimaginative way would be to treat her like Trent Lott and force her to step down. However, a new, fresh approach would be to insist on giving the gal a promotion. If Lott had to step down as Senate Republican leader, Murray must be allowed to step up as next Senate Democratic leader. Punishment must fit the crime. We'll have her where we want her, except, of course, on those secret getaway weekends that she and sweet Osama will be looking to share.
In victory corner we espy not only the barely peaceable David Bonior and Jim McDermott, who earned bonus frequent flyer miles on Iraqi Air this year, but mighty Generals Eric Shinseki and James Jones, whose tank tracks were all over a recent Washington Post story predicting that fighting in Iraq would be terribly difficult for America's fighting men. Now we know why Gen. Shinseki once wanted to dress the army's finest in black berets: they were to be a prelude to black armbands and whatever other signs of mourning America's military can carry into combat. He's the kind of commander who would have declared, "We shall not return" and "Full speed in reverse." When everyone's gone AWOL he announces his units to be in "fighting trim." That's the skinny on Shinseki.
Liberal media bias gave way this year to liberal media bigotry, all of it personified by one lowly scribe, Ms. Dana Milbank, who sank to the top of Washington's oldest profession the other day with this offering: "Compassionate Agenda Lags: So far, Bush has yet to help the disadvantaged, even with victories on foreign, security and fiscal policy." What a cheap thing to say, particularly when someone as disadvantaged as Milbank has been able to take full advantage. If she weren't such a spoiled brat, Maureen Dowd could give Milbank a run for the money. But at her own paper she's been overshadowed by Paul Krugman, which means she might soon go the way of Bob Herbert or Anthony Lewis. No prizes here.
Which brings us to the crowning moment we've been dreading. Do we really have to go ahead with this? Hasn't fox hunting been outlawed? We were happier during Campaign 2002, when many a Democrat would come to her for campaign loot, but only if no photographer was in the room. Her husband continues to hog the spotlight, but she's the one a CNN-Time poll now declares the leading Democratic contender for the 2004 presidential nomination. That same poll showed runners-up Kerry and Lieberman losing by huge numbers in a matchup against the Republican incumbent president. Strangely, predictably, CNN-Time neglected to ask respondents how the poll's purported top Democrat would fare against Bush. That's the way she's always gotten ahead: too many questions left unasked let alone unanswered. Now she wants to dress Republicans in white sheet uniforms. And she's driven enough to think she has a future that might include bringing Al Gore back to serve as her number two. So she's the one, the EOW of the Year. You know her name. You pronounce it. Now let us be. We've got new worries: What if Hillary decides to clone herself?
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