Sunday, May 25, 2003

A reporter’s insults

After his antiwar commencement tirade at Rockford College in Illinois, New York Times reporter Chris Hedges went on left-wing radio and likened the hostile graduates to war-crazed animals, the Media Research Center’s Times Watch reports at

In the interview last week on Pacifica Radio’s “Democracy Now” program, Mr. Hedges “displayed condescending contempt” for his audience at the graduation ceremony, Times Watch says.

“You know, as I looked out on the crowd, that is exactly what my book is about. It is about the suspension of individual conscience, and probably consciousness, for the contagion of the crowd, for that euphoria that comes with patriotism,” Mr. Hedges said in the radio interview.

“The tragedy is that — and I’ve seen it in conflict after conflict or society after society that plunges into war — with that kind of rabid nationalism comes racism and intolerance and a dehumanization of the other.”

The graduates were not only racist and intolerant, Mr. Hedges suggested, they were brainless as well.

“And it’s an emotional response. People find a kind of ecstasy, a kind of belonging, a kind of obliteration of their alienation in that patriotic fervor that always does come in wartime. As I gave my talk and I looked out on the crowd, I was essentially witnessing things that I had witnessed in the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina or in squares in Belgrade or anywhere else. Crowds, especially crowds that become hunting packs, are very frightening,” he said.

Mr. Hedges then said the song “God Bless America” leads to tyranny.

“People chanted the kind of cliches and aphorisms and jingoes that are handed to you by the state — ‘God Bless America,’ or people were chanting ‘Send him to France.’ This kind of stuff and that kind of contagion leads ultimately to tyranny, it’s very dangerous and it has to be stopped.”

A full deck

It was only a matter of time.

First, the Defense Department issued a deck of cards featuring the most wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Next, a conservative marketed a deck of cards featuring the “Axis of Weasels” — antiwar figures from Hans Blix to the Dixie Chicks.

Now, the left has answered with “Bush Regime Playing Cards,” declaring on a Web site — — that these persons are wanted for such crimes as “Looting Social Security trust funds” and “Strangling civil rights.”

The deck features the usual suspects: President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Attorney General John Ashcroft and other top administration officials.

However, many of the 52 cards in the deck are conservative pundits and talk show hosts: Wall Street Journal contributor Peggy Noonan is the queen of clubs, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol is the 10 of hearts, syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the four of diamonds, and radio host Rush Limbaugh is the three of clubs.

At least one columnist takes pride in being included.

“Hey, I made the cut as a member of the VRWC [Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy],” Andrew Sullivan, the five of diamonds, crows at He takes the opportunity to taunt National Review contributing editor Jonah Goldberg: “Eat your heart out, Jonah.”

The security issue

Most Americans are unconvinced the Democratic presidential hopefuls can handle the threat of terrorism, a new Time/CNN poll shows.

Asked whether any of the nine Democratic candidates have “convinced you that they can face terrorism,” 62 percent said no, 18 percent said yes and 20 percent said they were unsure.

Sixty-three percent of those polled said they approve of President Bush’s overall performance in the White House. Six in 10 liked his foreign policy, and seven in 10 approved of his handling of Iraq.

But 47 percent gave him a thumbs-down on the economy. Nearly as many — 46 percent — said he was doing a good job on the economy, however.

The poll surveyed 1,012 adults Wednesday and Thursday, and had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Axis of ‘oui-sel’

Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat and presidential contender, criticized France yesterday for its role in Middle East peace talks, suggesting Washington should give up on the international Quartet — the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia — that developed the “road map” and go it alone.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin left Paris yesterday for a visit to Israel and to meet with the Palestinian Authority, during which he will convene with Yasser Arafat. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon refused to see Mr. de Villepin.

“The Israelis will not make peace with the Quartet. The Israelis don’t trust the Europeans when it comes to the peace, don’t trust the United Nations. So we’re it,” Mr. Lieberman said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Meeting with Mr. Arafat “does nothing but make it harder for there to be peace in the Middle East, and I do think we’ve come to the point where we have to say to the French, ‘Come on, face the facts.’”

The senator did not restrict his criticism to the French.

“The Bush administration has effectively been disengaged from the ground in the Middle East,” Mr. Lieberman said. “It’s not going to get better between the Israelis and Palestinians unless the United States is there.”

O’Connor’s advice

Too many people think the American criminal and court system is racist, and lawyers should work to achieve “both the perception and the reality of equal justice,” Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said yesterday.

“There is sad evidence all across the nation that a substantial number of our citizens believe our legal and judicial system is unresponsive to them because of racial bias, that too often equal justice is but an unrealized slogan,” Justice O’Connor said.

Justice O’Connor also urged about 500 graduates of George Washington University’s law school to volunteer their time to help people who cannot pay for legal help.

“Use your skills acquired here to help provide both the perception and the reality of equal justice under law,” she said.

A George Washington law professor made an awkward reference to an affirmative action case now before the court, the Associated Press reports.

Accepting a faculty award before the introduction of Justice O’Connor, professor Paul Butler noted his degrees from Harvard and Yale.

“I received those honors because I worked hard, and also because of affirmative action,” Mr. Butler said, stressing the last two words. The students and some faculty applauded, while Justice O’Connor sat quietly, hands folded in her lap, the wire service said.

Deadline pressure

“Labor Day is the deadline for Bush officials to quit or pledge to stay through the re-election campaign,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“‘The summer — and Labor Day, being the end of summer — would be the drop-dead date,’ says a top Bushie. The reason so many top aides are leaving now, adds the insider: ‘The president wants time to replace them before the campaign begins.’”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or

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