- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2002

District 'scheduling mistake' bespeaks lack of respect

Now, let me get this straight: Organizers of a marathon had more than a year in which to plan their race, but they didn't "notice" that the chosen date would fall on Palm Sunday ("Clergy, footrace see clash," Metro, Feb. 11). It isn't as if the date for Palm Sunday has been kept secret from anyone these past few centuries now, is it? Does anyone really believe the District's planners would have missed the mark if the date they had picked had been, say, the day of the annual "gay pride" march? Does anyone really believe, either, that H2O Entertainment Group, a group that specializes in events planning (i.e., working with calendar dates), didn't know about this conflict a year ago?

Bear in mind that the grandees who run the District are the same people who wring their hands and fret over the "offensive" name of Washington's NFL team. Yet planning a marathon on one of the holiest days of the Christian calendar is somehow a mere "scheduling mistake"? It would serve the District planners right if hordes of faithful worshippers showed up en mass (so to speak) to attend services right in the middle of the marathon.

Frankly, I don't care whether they were trying to fit this race between the Boston and Los Angeles marathons, as they claim. They could have made adjustments, such as holding the race on a Saturday.


SCOTT A. BYRD

Vienna

The U.N. can't be trusted

In the Feb. 14 letter to the editor "U.N. isn't pushing global taxes," Edward Mortimer, communications director for the U.N. Executive Office of the Secretary-General, claims that "the United Nations is not about to create an International Tax Organization or impose global taxes." That is nice to hear, and I wish I could believe it, but how can you trust the United Nations? After all, it is the organization that has lectured the United States about its conduct in our current war while remaining silent about atrocities and wars that governments across the continent of Africa have conducted against their own people. At the very least, the United Nations is hypocritical and untrustworthy.

If the United Nations cannot be honest and fair about violence that other governments inflict upon their own people, why should we believe it in regard to the specter of global taxation?

After all, the United Nations and its supporters consistently argue that world poverty is caused mostly by richer countries' refusal to pay their fair share to help the poorer countries. Of course, the implication is that the blame for world poverty lies with the United States, which the United Nations and its supporters claim kicks in the smallest percentage of its gross national product to U.N. coffers of any developed member country. What they fail to mention is that although it is the smallest percentage, in total dollars it is much more than other countries give.

A key phrase in Mr. Mortimer's letter came in his reference to the fact that no U.N. functional group has "to date" called for an internationally levied tax.

Get it? "To date."

Those two words clearly indicate that the United Nations just hasn't gotten around to it yet. You can bet your mortgage that it will eventually.


TIM DUDENHOEFER

Silver Spring

Jefferson and the chief justice

William F. Gavin's review of R. Kent Newmyer's "John Marshall and the Heroic Age of the Supreme Court" is rightly laudatory ("Two Supreme Court justices for their times," Books, Feb. 10). However, the reviewer commits a historical error that the book does not when he writes: "In 1801, Marshall was appointed Supreme Court justice by President John Adams, although, in one those ironies of history, he was sworn in by the next president, Jefferson." In fact, it was Marshall who swore in President Jefferson after having taken his own oath of office exactly a month earlier, on Feb. 4, 1801. Your readers should know that the author, Mr. Newmyer, is not the source of this mistake by your reviewer.


MATTHEW J. FRANCK

Professor and chairman

Department of Political Science

Radford University

Radford, Va.

Obit for the Clinton legacy

As the corpse of the Clinton legacy chills and stiffens, a stunned silence falls over sundry sycophants and media apologists. Nowadays, it's hard to find a TV toady with even the brass to trot out the old "flawed-but-brilliant" blather as it becomes increasingly apparent that our last president not only failed to deal with the biggest threat to America since the demise of communism but, by his weakness and incompetence, actually enabled and emboldened the monstrous enemies of western civilization. Rather than as a great president, history is likely to remember Mr. Clinton as an embarrassing narcissist who, in an age requiring courage and perseverance, persisted in silly self-absorption while barbarians rammed the gate.

The first scene of this strange, eventful history is the subject of one of this year's Oscar-nominated movies, the stunning Ridley Scott film based on Mark Bowden's best-seller, "Black Hawk Down," which details the 1993 debacle in which the Clinton administration sent young men into the meat grinder of Mogadishu, Somalia, while denying them the heavy armor the mission required. Eighteen soldiers died. Two were mutilated and dragged through the streets by the howling mob. Mr. Clinton immediately showed his true colors to the world by packing up and running from the field of battle. Less than two weeks later in Haiti, a handful of drunken Haitians dancing on the dock at Port au-Prince would prevent the USS Harlan County from landing in that island nation to restore order. Recall, if you will, Osama bin Laden's equestrian musings on his infamous 30-minute-long video tape: "When people see a weak horse and a strong horse, by nature they will like the strong horse."

In 1993, under Bill Clinton, America became the weak horse.

So it followed that ever more egregious acts of terror would be perpetrated against the United States while Mr. Clinton would prove to be ever more spineless. The first World Trade Center bombing in late 1993, the 1996 Khobar Towers attack, the 1998 embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, and the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, went totally unanswered. Oh there was an ineffective U.S. attack on a Sudanese aspirin factory in 1998, but that is now widely regarded as a wag-the-dog diversion to take attention off the Monica Lewinsky scandal, timed, as it was, three days after Mr. Clinton's disastrous grand jury testimony. Furthermore, former CIA agent Robert Baer, in his upcoming memoir excerpted in February's Vanity Fair, details how Kurdish rebels and elements of the Iraqi army put their lives on the line to topple Saddam Hussein only to see their cause abandoned by a timid Mr. Clinton when victory was at hand. Now we learn the Sudanese actually offered to turn Osama bin Laden over in 1996 but the Clinton administration "could not find a way to accept the offer."

The excuse for inactivity was always the same. There was never enough reliable information to be actionable, former officials now explain. "You can keep setting the bar higher and higher," said one disgusted special services officer looking back over the sorry record, "so that nothing gets done." With a constant eye to his political viability, that is exactly what Mr. Clinton did. Nothing. And thus he became the midwife to September 11, not out of villainy, but out of weakness of character.

But the love for Mr. Clinton remains strong and true in some quarters, and that tells a lot about the moral flab of our national psyches in the last decade of the last century. In an era uneasy with strong masculinity, Mr. Clinton reassured many in the same way as does a Phil Donahue or an Alan Alda. Always eager to talk about his feelings, bite his lower lip or shed a tear for the cameras, the man seemed too much of a pantywaist to kick anyone's butt. Some found that trait reassuring. Many of us were terrified by it. Unfortunately, bin Laden was in the first camp.

We just have to accept the fact that strength, fortitude and resolve are desirable attributes, regardless of how disturbing some may find them. Mr. Clinton may have reflected his time, but he was not the man for his time. We should all know that now. When there are battles to be fought, planes to wrest back from hijackers, and burning buildings to enter, guts are required, not the questionable compassion of a charming dodger.


D.B. Wells is a writer living in Kentucky.

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