- The Washington Times - Friday, March 18, 2005

Nobles: George Kennan, who died Thursday at 101, for a lifetime of service.

In 1946, while serving at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, Mr. Kennan wrote a telegram back to Washington outlining how the United States should deal with the growing Soviet threat. He later expanded on his policy in a Foreign Affairs essay, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct.” Mr. Kennan’s idea, specifically that the United State should confront the Soviets “at every point where they show signs of encroachment upon the interests of a peaceful and stable world,” became known as containment and guided U.S. policy for the duration of the Cold War.

Perhaps it’s surprising then that Mr. Kennan became one of the most vociferous opponents of U.S. foreign policy soon after, even though that policy was based on his ideas. Though considered a “realist” in intellectual circles, Mr. Kennan displayed tendencies favoring isolationism and spoke out against military buildup. He strongly opposed democratization, considering it hubristic and unworkable.

But for all that Mr. Kennan was a loyal public servant, who, despite his convictions, performed his duties with unfailing resolve. He should be remembered as one of America’s great diplomatic minds.

For his ideas and for his service, Mr. Kennan is the Noble of the week.

Knaves: Mark McGwire, for clarifying that brute strength does not make the man.

The mark of a man is not in the size of his muscles, or his prowess in battle, nor even his feats of superhuman ability. As a wiser man than McGwire once said, it’s the content of his character. McGwire, one of Major League Baseball’s all-time homerun hitters, showed neither character nor courage Thursday in testimony before the House Government Reform Committee.

Asked by the committee whether he had taken illegal steroids, McGwire deflected questions. “I’m not here to talk about my past,” he said repeatedly. Asked if steroid use should be considered cheating, he said, again (and again), “That’s not for me to determine.” Asked if a player’s record should stand if that player used steroids, he said, “It’s not up for me to determine.”

McGwire, like many of his fellow players, obviously does not think that steroid use in baseball falls under the concern of Congress. But that’s the one thing that’s not for him to determine. Once before the committee, McGwire had an obligation to tell the truth, as painful as it might be, right or wrong. It would be a cliche to say that he struck out — but that’s exactly what happened.

For his sniveling attempt at disclosure, McGwire is the Knave of the week.

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