- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005

Nobles: Steven Vincent, the free-lance journalist who wrote for America.

In an interview with Frontpagemag.com, Mr. Vincent described what led him to cover one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq, Basra. “I stood that morning [of September 11] on the roof of my building in lower Manhattan and watched United Airlines Flight 175 strike the south tower of the World Trade Center. At that moment, I realized my country was at war — because of the 1993 attack on the Trade Center, I figured our enemy was Islamic terrorism — and I wanted to do my part in the conflict. I’m too old to enlist in the armed services, so I decided to put my writing talents to use,” he said.

And so he did. Paying his own way, Mr. Vincent traveled twice to Iraq, from where he did some of the finest reporting of the war. Like the great World War II reporter Ernie Pyle before him, Mr. Vincent’s writing was fair, but also adamantly pro-American. His 2004 book, “In the Red Zone: A Journey into the Soul of Iraq,” was dedicated to the victims of the September 11 attacks.

Unlike many so-called objective reporters, Mr. Vincent never failed to make the distinction between those who would blow up their countrymen, and those who risked their lives for strangers. Tragically, also like Pyle, who was killed by a Japanese sniper, Mr. Vincent fell Wednesday beneath the bullets of the enemy. His final column appeared Sunday in the New York Times.

In the same interview, Mr. Vincent said, “Words matter. Words convey moral clarity. Without moral clarity, we will never succeed in Iraq.” If only more Western reporters understood that.

For believing that one can be a reporter as well as an American, Mr. Vincent is the Noble of the week.

Knaves: Rafael Palmeiro, for having no reason to cheat.

This much is clear from Palmeiro’s getting caught using steroids: He surely won’t be the last. The question now is how many more heroes will be shamed before the end?

But for Palmeiro, it’s especially difficult to take. There he was, not four months ago, after testifying before a House committee, saying: “After being there and seeing everybody’s testimony, especially the parents of the kids who died, I think it’s our obligation to take a stance against steroids and to make a positive out of this whole thing.” Many have commented on his denial that day of never having used steroids; but it’s this sentence that really stings. Everyone wanted to believe him, even accepted that he was falsely outted by former teammate Jose Canseco, who wrote a tell-all book about baseball and steroids.

Of all the ball players who have been, or might yet be, found guilty of steroid use, it is to Raffy that many plead: “Say it ain’t so.”

For bringing his career to a bitter end, Palmeiro is the Knave of the week.

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