- The Washington Times - Friday, February 13, 2004

Nobles: Secretary of State Colin Powell, for a public display of indignation.

Holders of high office are almost required to engage in public displays of affection (PDAs) of the baby- and wife-kissing sort, but they are not permitted to engage in public displays of emotion (PDEs). They are expected to maintain emotionless masks no matter how demeaning their treatment.

The even-tempered Mr. Powell knows those rules of decorum, but this week he engaged in a well-deserved PDE. He had already endured a long series of taunts and barbed questions from Democrats during a hearing of the House International Relations Committee when Rep. Sherrod Brown launched the sort of personal attack that has become the staple of Democratic talking points. He queried, “You are one of the very few people in this administration that understands war. We have a president who may have been AWOL.”

Mr. Powell glared back in response, “First of all, Mr. Brown, I won’t dignify your comments about the president, because you don’t know what you are talking about.” When Mr. Brown repeated the charge, Mr. Powell fired back, “Mr. Brown, let’s not go there … . If you want to have a political fight on this matter that is very controversial, and I think is being dealt with by the White House, fine. But let’s not go there.”

Later in the hearing, Mr. Powell rebuked a staffer seated behind the legislators who was broadcasting his opinion with body language, asking, “Are you shaking your head for something, young man back there? Are you a part of these proceedings?”

Mr. Powell’s display of righteous indignation was a needed reminder to Democrats that decorum is supposed to cut across the aisle. For his PDE, he is the Noble of the week.

Knaves: A troupe of tardy 12-year-old girls, for a terrible set of lies.

No child likes to come home late from school. It can be cause for a scolding or even a spanking. Last summer, three late girls from Garden Grove, Calif. came up with a clever plan to avoid punishment.

They lied. It wasn’t the usual dog-ate-my-homework sort of claim. Rather, they accused drifter Eric Nordmark of attacking and molesting them. They fooled their parents, they fooled the police, they even fooled Mr. Nordmark, who said of one girl’s account, “I believed she was attacked. I just knew it wasn’t me.” Mr. Nordmark eventually spent eight months in jail awaiting trial. He was released after one of his conscience-stricken accusers confessed to her mother, who then informed prosecutors.

This week, all three of the girls were charged with conspiracy. Their trial is scheduled to begin early in March.

For turning their tardiness into another’s hard time, the loitering liars of Garden Grove are the Knaves of the week.

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