- The Washington Times - Friday, November 23, 2001

His gift
"I just thought well, [President Bush] does have that self-confidence. And obviously he's got something else some gift of connection with the American people. And ironically, a gift with working people especially.
"And I think that gift is not about homework. Al Gore could have done a million hours of homework. He wouldn't have known what to do the Friday after September 11 when George W. Bush walked up onto the rubble. And you can't calculate leadership. Some people you may disagree with their politics, but when they walk into a room, they're a leader.
"This president walked to the top of the rubble that was piled up there a couple of floors high, still steaming today. It was certainly hot then and stood on that rubble with his bullhorn. That bullhorn is very important because when somebody yelled at him, 'I can't hear you,' he said, 'Well, I can hear you. And soon, the people who knocked down these buildings are going to hear from all of us.' That was a sacramental moment in my religion."
Chris Matthews, speaking Nov. 14 at the Wednesday Morning Club in Los Angeles

Against nature
"I had dinner last week with William Hague, the former Tory leader, in Washington. He said one thing that stuck in my mind. We were discussing the images from liberated Afghanistan of women throwing off their veils and feeling the sun on their faces for the first time in years. How could anyone have believed that these women actually wanted to live like that?
"We have become so saturated with the nostrum that culture is everything, that we cannot judge or understand others brought up with different faiths or histories or legends that we have forgotten a simple thing. Some things are simply against human nature.
"There is barely a child anywhere in the world who wouldn't take some pleasure in flying a kite. There is no human who has ever lived whose life wasn't improved or enlightened by some kind of music.
"A religion that attempts not to channel human nature for good, but to suppress human nature altogether is doomed to failure. What we saw in Afghanistan is not some shift to a different political order. What we saw in Afghanistan was human nature rebelling against a cruel and evil abstraction. We are seeing human light in a theocratic darkness."
Andrew Sullivan, writing on "Human Nature," Monday at www.andrewsullivan.com

Selling 'Harry'
"If you've spent any time in toy stores lately, you know that the chains in particular resemble ravenous subsidiaries of Disney, AOL Time Warner, or 20th Century Fox. On a recent visit to my city's chichi FAO Schwartz, for instance, the displays for products touting Harry Potter, 'Monsters, Inc.,' and the upcoming 'Lord of the Rings' films made the stand-alone stuffed animals look like endangered species. The case against most tie-in toys, from a grouchy parent's perspective, is that they don't inspire kids to dream up much beyond the plots of movies or TV shows they've already seen. Toy makers, of course, think less about parents and kids and more about George Lucas, who managed to convince zillions of children and some stunningly impressionable grown-ups that acquiring plastic replicas (a k a 'collectibles') of every single 'Star Wars' character is a noble pursuit.
"Parents this year should steel themselves, for instance, against kid-launched lobbying campaigns for that $100-plus, motorized Hogwarts Express (a pretty standard train set) or the product that seems to be getting the biggest media push the Harry Potter Powercaster Electronic Spell Casting Playset, which, according to the box, features 'Magical lights, sounds and animation.' (In other words, two investment-grade collectible figures face off on a battery-powered stage in a game eerily reminiscent of Pokemon.)"
Mimi Swartz, writing on "Potter's Parent Trap," Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com


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