Sometimes we pick up where we left off. Last week Richard Cohen ran away with top dog honors, for reducing the Middle East mess to a question of the "Me, Myself and I and the My Unsurpassed Tolerance for Palestine." But it's true what they say: By asserting our right to self-defense, we radicalized him further. So this week Richard returned, holding many knives with his teeth. One day after the latest suicide bombing called into question Cohen's benign reading of Palestinian politics -- and if nothing else sabotaged the peace process Cohen is ready to sacrifice many lives outside his own to pursue -- he announced that the real loser in its wake is "Ariel Sharon's credibility." One moment Sharon is sitting quietly in the Oval Office chatting with our president; the next a sucker-puncher informs him that the bombing specifically designed to sabotage his White House meeting is all his fault.
Will the Richard Cohens and Noam Chomskys of the peace process posse make up their minds? If, instead of heeding their call and heading to Washington to give peace a chance, Sharon had stayed home to supervise his country's defenses, there probably would have been one fewer suicide bombing. Now Cohen and Co. have radicalized Sharon further. Not smart at all. The world isn't ready for another round of Israeli success.
For a while it appeared Michael Kinsley was ready to join the Cohen Brigade. You could almost feel him chomskying at the bit. But never mind. False alarm. He's not really criticizing "the annoying" Sharon for treating Palestinians like terrorists. He's criticizing G.W. Bush for treating terrorists like terrorists (when the president chooses to do so). Glad that's settled.
Our country's president continues to roller-coaster. One month his biggest fan, Andrew Sullivan, confesses, "I should have trusted the president more." The next he calls him "spineless," a sure recipe for a politics of paralysis. What did Bush do this time? Merely sign off on the most expensive farm subsidy bill since the invention of corporate welfare farming in Mesopotamia. Is it really that bad? Consider the times we live in. We're at war. Farmers have silos. You really think we're going to fill them at a time like this with corn? On the other hand, there is legitimate worry that the missiles planted in those silos will be ethanol-powered. War profiteering is one tradition we can do without.
Here comes the judge -- not. On Thursday Democrats celebrated the one-year anniversary of their campaign to reduce the United States government to two branches. Bush nominees to the federal bench remain in lockup, and Warden Leahy swears he 'd let them out if only he could find the key. As always with Pat, what we have here is a failure to communicate. He remains personally insulted -- at least that's what Ralph Neas and People for the American Way and Ralph Neas instructed him to claim -- that previously confirmed Republican appointees continue to act outside the modern mainstream. Why, just the other day Judge Sentelle, the purported mastermind of the Kenneth Starr selection as Clinton inquisitor, overruled a commie-symp judge to order the seating of a Bush appointee on the indispensable U.S. Civil Rights Commission. Now its director-for-life and the afterlife, Mary Frances Berry, is seething in a way no one has ever even seen Ariel Sharon seethe. All because Republicans once appointed judges. That mistake won't happen again.
The federal judiciary's last hurrah shall remain Title IX, whose XXXth anniversary this week reminded the country that women play a meaner game of softball and field hockey that any college jocks we know. Of course it also means that most colleges are shutting down every men's sport this side of football, basketball, and pledge week. But let's look at the bright side. If Trent Lott were in college today, he'd never be allowed to serve his campus as a cheerleader, unless he gave priority to women's lacrosse.
Europe remains the continent of our dreams, a land of political stability, calm, deep culture, and compassion. Tony Blair sure seemed outraged by the assassination of a leading Dutch politician. Now he insists there can be no war against Iraq without the U.N.'s permission, the same body that voted overwhelmingly to condemn Israel two minutes after a suicide bomber set himself off in Tel Aviv. Poor France. Is it fair that everyone wants to boycott only it? Well, some countries display charm, others don't. It's easy to pick on the French, whose egos are a fragile as the shells of the snails they eat. But they're so good at being French. Even in America, the land which, according to Charles de Gaulle, passed from barbarism to decadence without acquiring even a patina of civilization, a Frenchman remains true to himself. Thus in Los Angeles, consul-general for France Jean-Luc Sibiude called the boycott of his country "totally unjustified," telling the Washington Post, "I'm sick and tired of these alleged accusations that France is a country of anti-Semitism." And without tossing the bottle of water in his hands into the trash, he added, "I'm especially sick and tired with the analogy to the Vichy situation." Such defiance! Reminds you of his country back in 1940.
M. Sibiude's résistance has been for naught. Enemy Central always gets its homme. We may not be the Académie Française, but we're not the Legion of Honor either. We're just down home Enemy Central, doing our lonely little job of landing a choice poisson for proud display as EOW catch of the week.
Now the worry is that everyone will boycott the awards ceremony.