Wlady's Corner(April 14 - April 18, 2003) - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Wlady’s Corner(April 14 – April 18, 2003)
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Nuclear Waste (posted 4/18/03 12:01 a.m.)
The Enemy of the Week will return next Friday. But you might want to keep CNN in your thoughts. A week after it confessed to helping prop up Saddam Hussein’s torturers, its future is nonexistent. A great many august media types refuse to address the implications of what is now known. But this story won’t go away. At some level everyone knows it. CNN has become radioactive, and its half-life is behind it. We saw a symptom of its breakdown yesterday when it posted six premature obituaries on its website, ranging from Dick Cheney to Bob Hope to Ronald Reagan. The question immediately came up: Why hadn’t it posted its own? Surely it’s written and rarin’ to go.

Excommunicado
Just in time for the darkest day on the Catholic and Christian calendar, the Weekly Standard‘s J. Bottum, the most influential South Dakotan this side of Tom Daschle, reports that said Daschle is in deep trouble with his home diocese of Sioux Falls. There’s hope, in other words, that liberal Democrats who are Catholic might still be expected to respect the teachings of the church to which they claim to belong. In the Senate alone, that would mean no more pro-abortion Catholicism from “Biden, Collins, Daschle, Dodd, Harkin, Kennedy, Kerry, Landrieu, Leahy, Mikulski, Murray, Reed, and more,” as Bottum puts it.

Already in 1997, Daschle was scolded by his bishop for his permissive position on partial-birth abortion. Note how Tom responded. Bottum writes: “Daschle…rose on the floor of the Senate in Washington to denounce his own bishop back in South Dakota for speaking in a way ‘more identified with the radical right than with thoughtful religious leadership.'” How lucky for the bishop he wasn’t subject to Senate confirmation. At least not yet.

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Down and Out (posted 4/16/03 4:08 p.m.)
Baseball’s Hall of Fame committed a grievous error when, for patriotic reasons, it struck out at Susan Sarandon and canceled a planned fifteenth anniversary showing of Bull Durham in which she and her young mate Tim Robbins starred. There were, after all, other ways to retaliate against Sarandon. For instance, the folks at Cooperstown could have run a more recent Sarandon flick, Igby Goes Down, in which she plays as a character modeled on Mme. Ceausescu, Mrs. Milosevic and Leona Helmsley. How fans in baseball land would have cheered as Igby and his brother poison their mother, played by Sarandon, and finish her off by tying a plastic bag over her head. In finest liberal fashion, that moment was supposed to come off as an exercise in dark humor. The only thing missing was a “V” sign from Sarandon. Next thing you know she’ll be playing Martha Burk in an upcoming biopic.

Much as most devotees of culture would rather never write about Burk again, the New York Times leaves them with no choice. Today it was Times sports columnist George Vecsey’s turn, in the sort of column CNN might have required of its correspondents in Baghdad. How drunken and drugged was Vecsey when he rose to Burk’s defense? It’s the most over-the-top performance since Susan Sarandon drove over the edge in Thelma and Louise‘s happy ending. So Burk attracted only 40 protesters to her side at the Masters? Vecsey begins. Numbers, schnumbers. The goal was to get “people talking.” She discomfited the powerful. She got the process going. Soon enough the whole world will be watching. As Vecsey writes about one of Burk’s predecessors, “Before long, Martin Luther ing Jr. was preaching to millions at the mall in Washington.” It’s too late to ask if the Times has no shame. Just enjoy the ride.

Vecsey gives new meaning to Current Wisdom. He writes: “Martha Burk served as a prophet. And we all know that prophets are not necessarily heard or respected in their time. They are seen as loonies or harpies. The public scolds.”

Then, seriously, hilariously, deliriously, pathetically, he quotes from a Simon & Garfunkel song:

The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence.

(It was John Simon who famously wrote about Simon & Garfunkel’s greatest hits, “less rock than rock bottom.”)

But just to be seasonal, Vecsey adds: “Maybe people will discuss Martha Burk’s message at Passover seders this evening.”

Incidentally, an accompanying photograph show the tenement hall prophet Burk seated in the plush backseat of a chauffeur-driven town car, looking longingly out a closed side window (good thing the car was air-conditioned). The photo was posed for a Times photographer, Nicole Bengiveno, riding shotgun.

Jordan Rules (posted 4/16/03 4:08 p.m.)
Move over, Tom Daschle. There’s a new whiner in town. The other night, Michael Jordan played his final home game as a Washington Wizard. He is retiring for the third time and final time this week, his 40-year-old body, according to a front page Washington Post story, “inevitably breaking down.” No word on whether he can afford prescription drugs.

In any event, that’s not what people asked about after his last game in D.C., if for no other reason than that Washington’s coach, Doug Collins, used his post-game comments to attack Jordan’s teammates. He couldn’t attack Jordan so he went after the weak. Collins has become a genuine Washingtonian.

Those who don’t keep up with inside Washington may not know about the odd power dynamic that exists between Jordan and Collins. Before returning to active duty as a player two seasons ago, Jordan had joined the Washington franchise as part owner and front office boss, responsible for all the team’s hirings and firings. He’s the one who brought Collins in as coach. Then he decided to play for the coach he’d hired. Now who do you think remains the top man in that setup? For all intents, Jordan became the Wizards player-coach and team president, and thoughout this last season would pronounce on the Wizards’ problems and play as if the players answered only to him. Collins the entire time kept his tongue firmly bit, dutifully filling the role of ballboy and assistant coach.

But no more. Powerless to challenge Jordan, he complained about receiving “no respect” from the other Wizards, promising them they’ll rue Jordan’s departure. Jordan, in turn, elaborated on Collins’ comments, noting that “Doug felt very disrespected,” a point he repeated. But note he never said whether he agrees with Collins — nor whether the disrespect began with him. It’s enough to observe that both men used fighting words. Once again, the Wizards failed to make the NBA playoffs, but at least they’ve assured themselves a lively post-season.

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Losing It (posted 4/15/03 1:47 a.m.)
Among professional golf’s many virtues is that its practitioners hardly ever display bad sportsmanship. Win or lose, the players remain gentlemen, knowing ultimately that each competes essentially against himself. Sure, Tiger Woods sometimes seems ready to drive a club into the netherworld, but at least its his club, never his playing partner’s, and no doubt he later will apologizes to him for any outburst. It’s funny, in any case, how the golfing demeanor doesn’t seem to rub off on everyone who covers the game.

Take the duffers at the New York Times, who invested a great deal of prestige in the Martha Burk protest fiasco. So how did the Times headline its final story on Burk? “She Did Not Prevail This Year, But Burk Has Time on Her Side.” The Times appears to be saying it’s in this for the long haul. Who needs a long war on terrorism so long as Hootie Johnson is still standing?

Of course, the Times remains a sore loser on a more important front. On Monday its petulance was in rare form. The paper’s featured op-ed was by the distinguished historian John Lukacs, who in a rather inane piece complained about the habit of recent presidents to offer “senseless” salutes when stepping off Air Force One. Reagan was the first to go with this “puerile” gesture, and now Bush has taken it even further. “The exaggerated vesting of the president with his supreme role as commander in chief is a new element in our national history,” Lukacs writes. In fact, it reminds him of ancient Rome’s shift from republic to empire. Roman emperors became increasingly dependent on their military. “Will our future presidents? Let us doubt it. And yet …” he concludes.

Music to the Times‘s ears, and not the first time from Lukacs, a nominal conservative who made his mark in the Reagan years as a leading scoffer at the Gipper for liberal print consumption.

Still, it was interesting to see the Times go with the Rome/U.S. analogy. Just last week the paper offered a more barbaric standard, publishing a letter from a reader who compared the U.S. conquest of Baghdad to the Visigoths’ sacking of Rome. Saddam’s friends must hope he remained alive long enough to catch that flattering comparison.

It seemed no accident, meanwhile, to see the Times arts page give big splash treatment to “The Madness of George Dubya,” the genuinely puerile satire that’s been tormenting Londoners these last months. The Times‘ timing is curious. The ostensible hook for the story is this: “Now that [“Madness”] has move from the fringe into London’s mainstream West End for a four week run at the Arts Theater…” But that run is “due to end on May 3,” the preceding sentence concludes. So, in other words, it’s already into week two of its run. The war apparently gave the story no legs before the West End showings began. But now that the war is over, apparently it’s safe to pick up were they left off. Note too that like Michael Moore its makers are threatening to bring the play to the U.S.

What woeful opposition these people provide. The best the Times can come up with is to compare “Madness” to “Dr. Strangelove,” the most overrated and unfunny film of its kind. (The one good thing about “Dr. Strangelove” is that it inspired a contemporaneous moniker “Dr. Strangeglove” for Dick Stuart, a Pittsburgh Pirates’ first-baseman who couldn’t field.) Smug sanctimony drives out wit every time.

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Mastery Theater (posted 4/14/03 1:56 a.m.)
Anyone watching the Masters could see right away why Martha Madalyn Murray O’Hair Burk never had a chance to compete this weekend. Quite literally she was a barbarian at the gate — and no way the Augusta kingdom was going to fall to her likes, not yesterday, not now, not ever. The least appreciated side of golf is its setting, and not even the great links in the sky are any rival to Augusta National in the spring. Then think of all the ugliness afoot in the world — I won’t go into specific detail, but I’m sure we could compare images — and Augusta becomes a fairytale land where nothing could be finer.

And yesterday there was no finer place. A final round in which at least a half-dozen players remained in contention well into the final holes, until such time when a meteoric Len Mattiace charged ahead playing the round of his or anybody else’s life. It was almost unfair, given how Mike Weir had played all day, steadily, doggedly, and unflappably. But justice was served as Weir found a way to regain a tie for the lead late in his round, and then defeated the dizzied Mattiace in the first hole of sudden death. It was a great moment for Canada, for left-handed golfers, for anyone who likes winning done right. And in case you didn’t notice, Tiger Woods, who helped Weir into his new green blazer, was as admiring of Weir’s achievement as he’s likely to be of any competitor. It may not have been Woods’s day, but Weir did the next best thing by making sure it was golf’s.

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