- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2003

Arnold and Bill

The double standards of some on the press corps continue to astound. When former president Bill Clinton was sued in court for sexual harassment of women who either worked for him or were in positions of vulnerability, the liberal media said it was irrelevant. Feminists decried the women who came forward; political apparatchiks called them “trailer-trash;” liberals re-described sexual harassment as a harmless romp-around in the Oval Office. Even now, it’s almost impossible to get liberal feminists to decry Clinton’s abusive behavior. Now here comes Arnold Schwarzenegger. No one has filed suit against him for anything. No one even came forward to accuse him of anything. None of the allegedly abused women worked directly for him. But the Los Angeles Times set up its own dragnet, scouring for dirt and came up with six women over three decades, four of whom remain anonymous. And they do this only days away from the recall election, and just after Schwarzenegger has opened up a real lead in the polls. This is about as transparent a smear as you can imagine. Am I playing with my own double-standards here? Nuh-huh. When I was editor of the New Republic, I steadfastly resisted attempts to discuss the Gennifer Flowers affair when it broke, on the grounds that it was a private matter. In the Lewinsky case, I drew a clear distinction between a public law suit (with accusations of perjury and obstruction of justice) and private sexual life. The only exception was an accusation of actual rape against Clinton after the statute of limitations - but it seems to me an allegation of rape by a woman prepared to come forward is a different matter entirely than allegations of groping and lewdness by women who, for the most part, want to remain anonymous. Do I believe the women? Yes, I do. And Schwarzenegger’s non-denial suggests there’s something there. Do I find it gross? You bet. Do I think it’s the role of the press to go scouring for private dirt on candidates in order to smear them days before an election? Absolutely not. Californians should take this last-minute smear as a reason to vote against the Los Angeles Times. Which means — for Arnold.

Blair’s war

For all the retroactive nay-saying, Tony Blair turned the tables on his critics with his speech earlier this week to the Labour Party Conference, in Bournemouth, England. He’d been pilloried before the conference by disgruntled lefties calling for his resignation and all sorts of rumors that he should bow out in favor his arch-rival and close colleague, Gordon Brown. But it was the part of his speech about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction that struck me as the most impressive. Mr. Blair was candid, honest, open and clear:

“Imagine you are Prime Minister. And you receive this intelligence. And not just about Iraq. But about the whole murky trade in WMD. And one thing we know. Not from intelligence. But from historical fact. That Saddam’s regime has not just developed but used such weapons gassing thousands of his own people. And has lied about it consistently, concealing it for years even under the noses of the UN Inspectors. And I see the terrorism and the trade in WMD growing. And I look at Saddam’s country and I see its people in torment ground underfoot by his and his sons’ brutality and wickedness. So what do I do? Say “I’ve got the intelligence but I’ve a hunch its wrong?” Leave Saddam in place but now with the world’s democracies humiliated and him emboldened? You see, I believe the security threat of the 21st century is not countries waging conventional war. I believe that in today’s interdependent world the threat is chaos. It is fanaticism defeating reason. Suppose the terrorists repeated September 11th or worse. Suppose they got hold of a chemical or biological or nuclear dirty bomb; and if they could, they would. What then?”

What then, indeed? Today’s ubiquitous second-guessers would have us believe that there was an easy alternative to confronting Saddam earlier this year, and deposing him. But there were no good options - and none better than the difficult decision to go to war. President Bush should, in my view, say something similar at some point. I know that any concession with regard to prewar intelligence can lead to the anti-war hysterics piling on and the Democratic opportunists playing clairvoyants. But the point of concession is to say that he took the right decision — even if the intelligence turned out to be flawed — and may have to make a similar decision again. The threat has not gone away.

Quote of the week

“As an American I understand that Islam is not the enemy. But what about as a gay man? Have we forgotten that there is no sect of Islam worth considering that even tolerates homosexuality, and in countries where Islam predominates, punishment can be anything from imprisonment to torture to disfigurement to death. Islam may not be the enemy of my country, but I’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger enemy of gay people.” — David Lee, co-creator of TV’s Frasier, accepting an award at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Leadership Awards, reported by Rex Wockner.

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