PRIVATE MATTERS: Andrew Sullivan, the most impassioned voice in Websiteland, is mighty ticked at Slate‘s affable Timothy Noah (again), this time for posting a personal e-mail sent by the Mrs. David Frum to family and friends informing them that her husband, the well-known Bush speechwriter, coined the term “Axis of Evil.” Andrew has a point: Read by itself the letter does sound like self-promotion. But if read with its original audience in mind, it sounds exactly like what a private letter to family and friends would sound. If it’s any consolation, one didn’t need to know about the letter to know who coined that phrase. Any follower of David Frum, a devourer of history, would have immediately recognized his copyright the moment the president uttered the magic words.
Surprisingly, Andrew Sullivan, who merely fights on twenty fronts at once, missed a more egregious recent piece of snide, personal attack journalism. I say surprisingly, because last year he rushed to condemn the Washington Post for its pathetic stakeout outside the home of Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening and subsequent “scoop” that the governor’s girlfriend, a top aide, was spending nights there. Now that Glendening has married the woman, a leading Post columnist Marc Fisher has gone out of his way to ridicule the marriage, especially the homely wedding photograph the couple released. He can’t seem to get his dirty little mind off the discrepancy in the couple’s ages. Glendening is 59, his bride is 35, and to read Marc Fisher, you’d think the Maryland’s chief executive was the second coming of Jerry Lee Lewis.
A DAY TO REMEMBER: Bob Tyrrell reminded me this morning that today is Ronald Reagan’s 91st birthday. Of my favorite papers, the New York Times finally marked the occasion this afternoon, when it put up this AP story. But nothing yet from the Washington Post. More happily, short of getting his name on the Reagan National Airport’s metro station stop, the fortieth president has already passed into affectionate legend and myth. Thank God for that. But we should also never forget how the so-called mainstream used to loathe the likable man. That’s why I did a doubletake the other day when I read this quote from Peggy Noonan about the president she helped make her famous: “He is the last man all the Republicans agreed upon, and the last Republican a heck of a lot Democrats really liked.” Without going into merits of the first part of her statement, isn’t it safe to say there would have been no Iran-contra “scandal” if a heck of a lot of Democrats had really liked Ronald Reagan?