PICTURE THIS: For a while on Monday the WashingtonPost.com ran a lovely photo of Benjamin Netanyahu addressing that day’s pro-Israel rally, the Capitol standing proudly behind him. It’s hard to imagine a stronger image of invincibility — just as it’s easy to imagine the reaction the photograph would have evoked in the conspiratorial anti-Israeli world. Unfortunately, the Post didn’t carry the picture in its Tuesday editions and the chance to confirm certain circles in their belief as to who runs our country was lost for good.
Yesterday we discussed the free ride such liberals as Senators Schumer and Lieberman are enjoying for their staunch defense of Israeli defense efforts. In fact, it’s hardly been noticed that Lieberman met with Netanyahu during the Israeli’s visit to the Senate last Wednesday. But their morning meeting apparently was separate from Netanyahu’s gathering with 20 or so senators later that day. It’s no accident that this latter group was largely if not entirely Republican. In the strange world of liberal perception, it’s better to be seen with Netanyahu one on one than alongside Republican senators who’ve come to meet him. One never wants to give the wrong impression.
Fortunately for his own image Netanyahu doesn’t worry about such trifles. For his troubles, one prominent liberal blogger yesterday blamed Netanyahu for fanning the fires before Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995. In this entry the blogger calls him an “adventurer and opportunist.” A day earlier he called him “a hustler and an opportunist of the most dangerous sort.” From now on maybe he should just describe Netanyahu as “ever the opportunist.” (Whatever that means — if he were actually an opportunist the blogger wouldn’t be calling him one.)
ARAFAT WEST: Our blogging friend was most offended by Netanyahu’s quip on Monday that “Yasser Arafat is nothing more than Osama bin Laden with good P.R.” And a lousier beard, maybe he should have added. At least Netanyahu was in the ballpark. But what is one to make of disgruntled and hysterical Harvard Prof. Cornel West, who is defecting to Princeton after all, calling Harvard President Lawrence Summers “the Ariel Sharon of American higher education”? West, who felt Summers had been disrespecting him (the last straw seems to be he was late in sending West a get-well card), also says Summers acted “very much as a bull in a china shop, and as a bully, in a very delicate and dangerous situation.” This is hilarious. As someone noted on Lucianne.com (Reply 30), if Summers is Sharon, West must then be Arafat. But that understates the matter. West more naturally identifies with the entire West Bank and he seems to be threatening to mount his own intifada against Harvard’s Sharon. Why else describe messing with him a “dangerous situation”?
The New York Times had a grand time reporting on West yesterday, injecting more that a bit of mocking tone. (“While the recording has often been described as rap,” the Times wrote of West’s “spoken-word CD,” which Summers had criticized, “Dr. West said he preferred the Nietzschean phrase ‘danceable education.'”) Maybe the Times is finally tiring of his act. Its two weekend reports couldn’t have been more respectful. In fact, Sunday’s story had a cheery quality not seen since Socialist Realism went out of business in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. “Princeton Eager to Welcome Scholar,” the headline read. The opening sentenced gushed: “Students at Princeton University say they are already relishing the prospect of attending lectures next fall by the scholar Cornel West…” By contrast, back in Cambridge, “Brandon Gayle, a Harvard junior who collected more than 1,000 signatures from students and others urging Dr. West to stay, characterized the loss of the professor as a ‘shock and a blow to the Harvard community.'” Such a shock and blow that Summers is probably in line for a handsome raise. Meanwhile, who might those phantom “others” be? Will Summers Sharon track them down at Boston University or MIT and reduce their dorms into rubble?
BORING IN: If Cornel West were a professional golfer, maybe he’d have one fan, Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins. For all we know, she’s as overrated in her field as West is in his. It’s a matter of tone. West leaves for happier hunting grounds and all he can do is bash the boss he left behind. Jenkins sets out to pay tribute to Tiger Wood’s greatness only to declare that he’s “machine-like, implacable, and boring in almost every respect.” Until he starts to lose, she complains, we won’t really ever know him. He remains “a detached, remote and not fully knowable champion.” Too bad Jenkins has made herself so knowable.
Again the New York Times rides to the rescue. On the editorial page Robert B. Semple, Jr. ends his tribute to Arnold Palmer with this:
“Woods is handsome, serious and anything but boring. Like Palmer, he has a rare kind of theatrical star power that springs from a willingness to take chances, the ability to come from behind, a capacity for endless hard work and, yes, a radiant, embracing smile. We’ll miss Arnie, but we’re happy to have Tiger.”
Boring, it would seem, is in the brain of the beholder. Watch Woods and you’ll know more than you know.