- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 25, 2003

Each year on my Weblog, I ask readers to send in nominees for various fake awards for idiotic public utterances of one sort or another. At the end of the year, it is my honor and privilege to select a few winners and runners-up in various categories. Here they are in all their glory — a veritable cornucopia of idiocy for 2003 — from the right, the left and the pretentious.

Begala award winner (for excessive left-wing rhetoric)

“I think this is a deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States of America.” — Bill Moyers, on the Bush administration, in the Nation.

And runner-up

“I do not feel safer now than I did six, or 12, or 24 months ago. In fact, I feel far more vulnerable and frightened than I ever have in my 50 years on the planet. It is the United States government I am afraid of. In less than two years the Bush administration has used the attacks of September 11 to manipulate our fear of terrorism and desire for revenge into a blank check to blatantly pursue imperialist objectives internationally and to begin the rollback of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and most of the advances of the 20th century.” — Jill Nelson, MSNBC.

Derbyshire winner (for excessive right-wing rhetoric)

“Eminem may be the ‘people’s choice,’ but he is as harmful to America as any al Qaeda fanatic.” — Bill O’Reilly.

And runner-up

“Our original Constitution divided the powers of the government and put restrictions on those powers, in a Bill of Rights, and in the retention by the states of much of their sovereign power. Lincoln’s War overthrew that Constitution. When 11 “free and independent states” sought peacefully to depart from the Union, they were dragged back in, by invasion and war. By 1884, Woodrow Wilson was writing in his ‘Congressional Government,’ ‘we are really living under a constitution essentially different from that which we have been so long worshiping as our own peculiar and incomparable possession.’”—Patrick Buchanan,lamentingthe North’s victory in the Civil War.

Sontag award nominee (for egregious moral equivalence in the war on terror)

“Unelected in 2000, the Washington regime of George W. Bush is now totalitarian, captured by a clique whose fanaticism and ambitions of ‘endless war’ and ‘full spectrum dominance’ are a matter of record. All the world knows their names: Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Cheney and Perle, and Powell, the false liberal. Bush’s State of the Union speech last night was reminiscent of that other great moment in 1938 when Hitler called his generals together and told them: ‘I must have war.’ He then had it.” — John Pilger, the London Daily Mirror.

And runner-up

“Biden says we must win the war. This is precisely wrong. The United States must learn to lose this war — a harder task, in many ways, than winning, for it requires admitting mistakes and relinquishing attractive fantasies. This is the true moral mission of our time (well, of the next few years, anyway).” — Jonathan Schell.

Poseur of the year

“Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel … Oh! There you are. This ‘Diary’ creeps up on you in the most unguarded moments. … A certain roundness and softness to my face always bothered me. I wanted to look hard and lean and chiseled, just as I wanted to have that invincible steel will of Central European intellectuals like Arthur Koestler, and not all that moist, tremulous high (and low) feeling I’ve inherited from my Russian-Jewish forebears. Everyone in my family is vibrato; there is not a note blanche to be found in our entire genetic pool. Weeping was a form of communication. One sob meant hello, two sobs meant good-bye, three sobs meant ‘There’s a call for you,’ and so forth. Hoffenshtoffen, who gets bored by lachrymosity, says that I was born with a silver violin in my mouth.” — Lee Siegel, in Slate.

And runner-up

“This eulogy owes nothing to artifice or chance. It has ripened inside me since childhood. From the bottom of my pockets, stuck to the back of my smock, hidden in the corner of abacuses, poetry gushed out…” — French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, from the preface of his new book, “In Praise Of Those Who Stole The Fire.”

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