The Spectacle Blog

RE: Agassi

By on 9.1.06 | 1:00PM

Quin: last night's U.S. Open match-up was unbelievable. To go back and forth in the fifth set between deuce almost every game (I counted close to 15 in one game) was true agony, especially knowing that Agassi could have easily destroyed and ended the match when Baghdatis' leg cramps set in. Agassi demonstrated (along with questioning the ref on a call) that he has become a true gentleman in his older age (remember the good ol' days of yelping and bandanas). Perhaps it is the love of a good woman (isn't that always the way really) that is the cause. Thanks Steffi.

But my favorite part of the match was the interview afterward between Agassi and John McEnroe. Mr. Obvious noted that in order for Agassi (age 36) to win the big enchilada he has to win five more matches, or in other words, conquer five more youngsters. Whatta doll.

Agassi Agonistes

By on 9.1.06 | 12:03PM

I never thought I would see, again in my entire life, a tennis match as gripping as the one Jimmy Connors played in beating Aaron Krickstein on Labor Day of 1991, Connors' 39th birthday. But the incomparable Andre Agassi and the highly entertaining, heart-filled, and ultimately incredibly classy Marcos Baghdatis at least equalled that Connors event in their U.S. Oepn match last night. It was so nerve-wracking just watching that I felt my chest tightening and my temperature rising. Both players overcame pain and myriad challenges, both played unbelievably high-level tennis throughout, and both deserved the support of the crowd. In the end, with Agassi having barely hung on while Baghdatis suffered horrible cramps in both thighs, Baghdatis' comments in defeat were a heartfelt paean to Agassi's place in the history of the game. Bravo! And may Agassi continue his improbable match through this, his last tournament.

Not Doyle

By on 9.1.06 | 11:57AM

Lawrence Henry makes an interesting suggestion in saying that Allen Doyle should have been named to the Ryder Cup team, but it's just not practical. He may be a gritty competitor, but really, there's just no way that he's even among the best 150 golfers on the planet. Beating the geezers and hanging around the cut line at the US Open just doesn't equate to competing with the top players in the world. But Larry's column was a fun read, anyway!

Did Hezbollah really lose?

By on 9.1.06 | 10:29AM

In his Washington Post column today, Charles Krauthammer counters the conventional wisdom that Hezbollah won, joining Amir Taheri, who made similar points last week. The gist is, Hezbollah's military suffered heavy causualties, and it lost politically because the Lebanese people blame the terrorist group for bringing so much devastation to the country. This view was bolstered by the following statement by Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, which Krauthammer cites in his article:

"We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 . . . that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not."

Islamic Nationalism

By on 8.31.06 | 4:07PM

Over at Andrew Sullivan's blog, David Weigel pokes fun at Kathryn Jean Lopez for poking fun at Jack Reed. Reed, in a conference call with Chuck Schumer, had this to say about the term "Islamofascism":

This is not a nationalistic organization that is trying to seize control of a particular government. It is a religious movement. It is motivated by apocalyptic visions. It is something that is distributed. Most of these terrorist cells seem to be evolving through imitation, rather than being organized. And again, I think it goes to the point of that their first response is, you know, come up with a catchy slogan, and then they forget to do the hard work of digging into the facts and coming up with a strategy and resources that will counter the actual threats we face.

PC Pat

By on 8.31.06 | 3:32PM

Cliff May notes that he was on TV today arguing with Pat Buchanan about the propriety of the term "Islamo-Fascism." Part of Buchanan's argument? "[H]e said, the term is offensive to Muslims." That's Pat Buchanan for you: Always ultra-sensitive to the feelings of minorities.

Israel and the Red Cross

By on 8.31.06 | 11:19AM

Today, the Washington Post recounts how Magen David Adom, the Israeli equivelent of the Red Cross, finally became a member of the international Red Cross, after nearly 60 years of being denied entry because it wanted to use the Star of David as its emblem. Missing from the article was a recounting of a 1999 incident, in which Cornelio Sommaruga, former head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was quoted as saying, "If we're going to have the Shield of David, why would we not have to accept the swastika?"

Gas: Giant?

By on 8.30.06 | 5:09PM

Everyone seems to expect President Bush's unpopularity to be a huge drag on Republican candidates in November. But the funny thing about Bush is how closely his approval ratings correlate to gas prices. So if it's true that the price at the pump is poised to keep falling for months, shouldn't we be more optimistic about the GOP's fortunes this November?

Hard Data on Rudy in 2008

By on 8.30.06 | 3:19PM

Given our Giuliani discussion, I thought it would be worthwhile to point out some data from the latest Cook Political Report/RT Strategies Poll. It backs up what I've been saying about Rudy's chances of capturing the Republican nomination.

The headline number is that Giuliani is the first choice of  32 percent of Republicans, McCain, his closest rival, is at 20 percent. Meanwhile, Gingrich at 10 percent, Frist is at 8 percent, Romney is at 5 percent and Allen is at 4 percent.  

There have been questions raised as to whether Giuliani can succeed in the South, given his liberal social views. Well, a separate question asked respondents how they like certain politicians "as a person," on a scale from 0 to 100. In the South, Giuliani scored 62.4, which is higher than anyone else on the list, including McCain and President Bush.

People may like Giuliani as a person, critics may contend, but their support will errode once they learn of his liberal social views. However, yet another question in the poll asked:

Changing Gears: The Fiction of Lars Walker

By on 8.30.06 | 2:56PM

It happens every once in a while. You discover something that is really special, that should be incredibly successful, but unaccountably, isn't. A very well read friend made me aware of the fiction of Lars Walker. He writes mostly about Vikings during the period when Christianity contended with pagan religions, but he also has a contemporary novel (which happens to deal with Viking lore!).

I cannot give a high enough recommendation to Lars Walker's The Year of the Warrior. I had to wait for it, but it was completely worth the wait. The narrator of the story is a young Irishman taken captive to sell as a slave by Vikings. They give him a tonsure to make him look like a priest so he'll fetch a higher price. A newly converted Viking nobleman buys him because he needs a priest for his village. The Irishman decides to play the part of the priest in order to survive and the action flows from there.