- The Washington Times - Monday, September 4, 2000

Harlequin hero

"Alas, Al Gore is such a scripted politician … that the unworthy thought forced itself into one's mind: I wonder if they did the focus group on this?

"Did Al and Tipper personally kiss in front of a demographically accurate cross section of the electorate? Or were look-alikes employed? Did they try out different positions? Or several lengths of time? And did the responses from the focus group, that is, not Tipper vary significantly according to ethno-cultural background… .

"Here he is, an apparently faithful married man, loyal to Tipper and devoted to his children; yet women voters were remaining firmly resistant to his respectable charms even as they clearly pined for Bad Boy Bill Clinton, the White House womanizer, or began drifting way to another rake, albeit a reformed one, in the person of George W. Bush… .

"Was there anything left? … He could go after the Lifetime television audience by making himself the hero of their daydreams. He could become a Harlequin hero for a day… .

"In any event, the polls are now in and the vice president's stock has soared with women voters. It was the Kiss Heard 'round the World."

John O'Sullivan, writing on "Kissing Up," in the Sept. 11 issue of National Review

Historic heroes

"It's been a crusade of my life to get my fellow historians in the academy to understand that these are 18- and 19- and 20-year-olds that we're teaching, and they want to know who are our heroes, what did they do, what do we owe them. And few, if any, academics respond to that… .

"When academics cover Thomas Jefferson, they want to talk about Sally Hemings. They don't want to talk about the Declaration of Independence or the Northwest Ordinance or the Louisiana Purchase or the [Virginia] Statute of Religious Liberty. When they talk about George Washington, they want to talk about the slaveholder. They don't want to talk about the man who led us to independence, and how he put his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor on the line… .

"We need to recognize that our freedom didn't come for free, that our liberties had to be earned, that sacrifices were made, that people made choices and took terrible risks in order to create the country we live in now."

historian Stephen Ambrose, interviewed in the September issue of the American Enterprise

Blowing in the wind

"We are told that every 17 minutes, someone in America commits suicide. In North America, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among people 15-25 years old, college students for the great part. And note this tragic feature of American life: among children between 5 and 14 years of age, suicide is the sixth most common cause of death.

"Suicide is also a significant threat to young people who have discovered that they have homosexual feelings. While there are no conclusive statistics on the phenomenon, some studies suggest a high rate of suicide attempts among young people with same-sex attractions. These are not people sticking their fists in the face of God. These are children who look in their own faces and hate what they see.

"The heart asks: Why? But the answer is blowing in the wind. Young people kill themselves mainly for one reason: they cannot believe their lives are precious enough to make them worth living. Despair, depression, hopelessness, self-loathing these are the killers. I believe that, as Christians, we should worry less about whether Christians who have killed themselves go to heaven, and worry more about how we can help people like them find hope and joy in living."

Lewis B. Smedes, writing on "Is Suicide Unforgivable?" in the July 10 issue of Christianity Today

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