What a difference a year makes. A year ago this time, an archival search reveals, the esteemed Mme. Hillary was capturing Enemy of the Year honors for 2002. Now a whole host of vigilantes is telling us it would like to see her repeat this year. Or better, tied to a stake opposite the enlightened Sandy Day O'Connor. But must we rush to predictable judgment?
Let's face it. Honesty and our reputation for integrity require that we come right out with it to say we plum forgot giving Hillary the prize last year. (This despite all the campaign funds she funneled to us from Beijing via Panama and Vancouver.) Yes, it's true: like the entire Clinton collective, we could not recall, perhaps owing to a medical condition America's unnationalized health care has yet to treat. But the fact is that those of us who suffer from Enemy fever retain no memory of who our laureates have been. Is this any way to pursue justice, properly understood? Is it time we turned ourselves in to ourselves?
Reviewing the 45 Enemy of the Week winners for the past year, we're shocked at not only their variety but their similarity. Some happen to be men, others women, not that we discriminate against those who are a combination of the two. Some are American, others non-American, though not necessarily more anti-American than the Americans. Some work in Washington, or Hollywood, or at ABC News or on Times Square. Some even served in Iraq, be they Saddam Hussein or Tony Benn or Rep. Jim McDermott. Some have names, others have acronyms, a few even live in France (which Americans should actually colonize rather than boycott) and only one of them is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. The PG version of his name is John Kerry.
Aside from the absence of other dwarves, the shocker here is that the Massachusetts Tall Man wasn't named until last fall, and not for anything he muttered as a presidential aspirant. It was for an insult he directed at Rush Limbaugh, at a moment when Limbaugh happened to be down. After what the pip-squeak Howie Dean has done to Kerry, we expect his insults to grow more self-referential, unless he cleverly takes the lead in ascribing Mad Cow disease to its Vermont exemplar. Either way, if so-called Democratic presidential hopefuls can't score in Enemy precincts, how is the eventual Democratic nominee ever to carry a single state next November outside of Ontario? We seriously urge the Democratic Party to decline to nominate anyone for the presidency in 2004. Its constituents will be better served if more attention is paid to the crumbling infrastructure of our nation's interstate bike path system.
To be sure, there are those who think we should quarantine Dr. Dean right here and now. But that would only be giving in to the hysteria endemic to any disease seen as a threat to the meat-eater class. According to polling, Howard Dean is far less known, let alone popular, than last year's Enemy laureate. He may be leading the Democratic pack, such as it is, but a hungry, desolate, scavenging collection of mini-wolves it remains.
Republicans have their perennial stars too. One such is New York Gov. George Pataki, whose recent statesmanship consists of an unconditional pardon of a late speechwriter to Senator Clinton by the name of Lenny Bruce. We look forward to the release of Bruce's records, so that our unsalty culture might benefit from the litany of original obscenities under seal ever since his arrest back in the Era of Repression. One good turn will propel another, as the competitive Howie Dean will feel the urge to unseal access to his own hall of records, all of them recorded in the colorful language he mastered in his year of basic training as an avalanche-causing maestro among the prols of Aspen, Colorado.
As we write, there has been regime change in Washington, as the most hated executive the capital has seen these last two years has caved to political pressure and announced he'll not be running again next year. That is, running practices. So long, Steve Spurrier. For a while he seemed to be preparing a Clintonite exit, as word leaked that his wife was unhappy in Washington, and thus the Redskins' losing ways could be blamed not on her husband but on the loser of a city even her husband couldn't save. But according to the latest version of his resignation, Spurrier is for all intents confessing he wasn't up to the job. By American political standards, that qualifies him as a class act. One suspects he'll vote Republican next fall.
Which leaves us desperately searching for a qualified winner of this year's Enemy super bowl trophy. Once again the Democratic ballboy Howie comes in handy. Recently he let on, amid claims that George W. Bush knew in advance about the impending attacks of 9/11 just as George H.W. Bush knew about Japanese plans for Pearl Harbor, that Osama bin Laden, when found, will deserve the services of the finest lawyers the ABA can provide him. Perhaps Dean said this to curry favor with Sen. Patty Murray, who long has regarded Osama as a model social worker and mentor, and whose endorsement Dean now needs to complement Al Gore's in stature. In any event, alas, whatever path Howie is on can be regarded as the wrong one, no matter the congregation.
Enemy Central is therefore proud to announce that its winner this year is a dead man, or person, as Time magazine would have it. The New Hampshire-based coroner Mark Steyn pronounced him dead in 2002, a finding confirmed by a medical commission headed by one Dr. Tyrrell. Subsequent claims that the dead man is alive have all the credibility of those that fall under the "Elvis lives!" rubric. Most recently, after the humane rescue of Saddam Hussein, some terrorist fans of Howard Stern released a tape purporting to carry the reaction of our winner to the event. The tape proved to be older than a rerun of "I Love Lucy."
So here's the score: Osama bin Laden, Enemy of the Year 2003, is dead, as good as dead, and as such, deader than dead. Once the reality sinks in, the Howies will respond that while America may be safer, the Afterlife sure won't be. Eternity won't last long enough to cure them of their fears.