Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review June 20, 2003 / 20 Sivan, 5763

Diana West

Diana West
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Fanning the wrong flames | Hillary Rodham Clinton, a United States senator carefully fanning the media firestorm over her $8 million memoir to kindle a possible presidential candidacy, could hardly have less in common with Marzieh Babakhani, an Iranian refugee who died in Paris this week after setting herself ablaze to protest France's massive crackdown on an Iranian opposition group headquartered in France. But then I came across that most remarkable bit about Mrs. Clinton's best-selling memoir, "Living History" (Simon & Schuster, 2003). It made me realize that there is a point of comparison in the respective media coverage of these two persons that makes a small but significant point about our ailing political culture.

Truth be told, this most remarkable bit about Hillary doesn't actually fall between her book's covers; it is instead a Clinton comment -- or, rather, a Clinton no-comment -- on a question about the book that came her way from the very middle of the mainstream media, The Washington Post. After asking Mrs. Clinton to discuss some of the high-rev political commentary in some of the high-rev political parts of the memoir, the Post dutifully relayed to its readers that the New York senator "declined to be interviewed about the political content of her book."

She declined to be interviewed about the political content of the book, did she? Columnists Jonah Goldberg and Andrew Sullivan have already picked up on this colossal crust -- the former ascribing Madame's declining "to be interviewed, etc.," to a cynical strategy calculated to maintain poll-boosting victim status.

Now that I've caught on, I think this little story is well worth highlighting all over again. What we've got here is a U.S. Senator who writes a book to launch a probable presidential candidacy while claiming the near-divine right of first ladies (and criminal suspects) to remain silent. As Mr. Goldberg put it on National Review Online, "She denies that she's merely a wife, and yet when it comes time to market herself she refuses to be anything else." Not that those snarling pit bulls of the media would ever, ever let Hillary Clinton get away with running on a platform of, say, having "wanted to wring his neck." Or would they?

Judging by the tenor of Mrs. Clinton's infomercials -- I mean interviews -- the answer is a tail-wagging yes.

All of which somehow turned my thoughts to the wretched Marzieh Babakhani, the heretofore anonymous woman "of about 40," said Reuters, who, in a gruesome act of fanaticism, exchanged her life for the tiniest, briefest blaze of headlines on the plight of the Mujahedeen Khalq, or People's Mujahedeen, an Iranian exile group dedicated to overthrowing the Islamic Republic of Iran. As The New York Times noted, the French crackdown effectively ended the group's activities in France, "while the timing of the operation" -- which coincided with the recent eruption of Iranian student protest against the regime -- "seemed to send conciliatory signals" to Iran's mullah-dictators.

This, I would fervently hope, is the last thing the United States wants to do, particularly after having offered encouragement to the student protesters (who are not, by the way, affiliated with the People's Muhajedeen). Still, it is also the case that since 1997, our government, joined last year by the European Union, has deemed this particular exile group a terrorist organization. Worth noting, however, is the fact that Middle East expert Daniel Pipes, for one, contests this terrorist label, explaining in a column last month that the group has "really forsworn" the barbaric tactics it once used against Americans, confining military action for the past 15 years to "specific regime targets." Indeed, Mr. Pipes has recommended that Secretary of State Colin Powell remove the group from the list of terrorist organizations.

In other words, there is plenty of room for debate and analysis -- political content -- regarding this compelling new angle on the war against Islamist terrorism and the regimes that support it. Which, of course, reminds me again of the media firestorm around Mrs. Clinton, elected official and probable presidential hopeful, that burns on devoid of political substance. This disturbing spectacle says more about the media, of course, than it does about Mrs. Clinton. It should make us reflect both on the lengths some people allow themselves to go to make a political statement -- and the lengths some are allowed to go to avoid it.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

05/16/03: Speaking of terror
05/30/03: Facing reality at the DMV
05/27/03: Lost in The Matrix
05/19/03: A dubious diversity
05/09/03: Recalling the man who 'Banned in Boston'
05/02/03: Fellowships and flagellation
04/28/03: What Americans have to learn about cultural education
04/21/03: In Iraq, is democracy is in the eye of the beholder?
04/14/03: The greatest generation gap
03/31/03: The great gap between the West and the Middle East
03/21/03: They just wouldn't shut up!
03/10/03: Sorry apologies for speaking the truth
03/03/03: The Eurabian alliance
02/24/03: Searching for good news
02/18/03: Love and honor -- lost, found and murdered
02/03/03: A calm that causes concern
01/27/03: Playing politics with a T-shirt mentality
01/21/03: When understanding the East means losing the West
01/13/03: Is a war on Jews a war on democracy?
01/06/03: Bush must take a stand on affirmative action
12/30/02: Questions for reflection on 2002
12/16/02: The pre-emptive war goes Hollywood
12/09/02: Protest Augusta? Why not Sudan?
11/25/02: Something to contemplate this Ramadan
11/08/02: Does Eminem now fit in?
11/04/02: No time for gloating
11/04/02: What's in a name when the name is Muhammad?
10/28/02: Jihad as a First Amendment right
10/21/02: When speaking out isn't allowed
10/14/02: Terrorism in Maryland and abroad
09/30/02: So long urgency, hello indulgence
09/24/02: That one, sturdy, missing word
09/17/02: Fingerprinting, finally
09/09/02: When 'healing' overshadows reality
09/04/02: Tales from the Techno Valley and Forest
08/16/02: Elvis shall rise again
08/14/02: War with Iraq won't harm war on terror
08/06/02: Clinton snaps over Somalia
08/01/02: 9-11 anniversary shouldn't come with apology
07/27/02: An unstable common ground
07/25/02: Hillary fights hard for soft money
07/12/02: Goretheus unbound
07/10/02: Rosie takes a shine to Republicans
07/08/02: Are you still shocked, Sami?
07/02/02: Can Britney win hearts of the Middle East?
06/28/02: A war on terror or Islamists?
06/25/02: Blame the murderer, and the messenger
06/21/02: Up front and personal with Atta
06/18/02: Terrorism at the United Nations
06/11/02: Who's policing the INS?
06/07/02: Spa Gitmo
06/04/02: Can rock gods save the queen?
05/31/02: Hillary's war
05/29/02: Have you forgotten we're at war?
05/24/02: An antiquated luxury of the past
05/21/02: From terrorists to tourists
05/19/02: Hate U.
05/07/02: Western self-loathing numbs us to violence
05/03/02: Pioneering television
05/01/02: Western self-loathing numbs us to violence
04/29/02: It's the misconduct, stupid
04/24/02: Medal of diss-honor
04/17/02: Holy sanctuary or terrorist shield?
04/12/02: Egyptian clerics solicit martyrs for murder
04/09/02: Defining terrorism down
04/05/02: The Wilder life
04/02/02: Acting, equality and the Academy
03/31/02: Speeding to conclusions
03/25/02: Hard to remove blood (libel) stains
03/21/02: The tale of Nixon's tapes --- again
03/19/02: The Big Lie lives on
03/15/02: The tunnel vision of '9/11'
03/13/02: The American Auschwitz?
03/08/02: Hating the indoctrination of hate
03/05/02: Clinton and Enron: Old friends
03/01/02: Pickering doesn't polarize, the process does
02/26/02: Destiny's prefabricated child
02/22/02: The White House heist
02/20/02: Making the grade
02/11/02: Studying student visas
02/06/02: Understanding arrogance
02/04/02: The professor's war
01/29/02: Disconnected dialogue
01/23/02: Anti-Indiscrimination
01/18/02: How much is enough?
01/15/02: Oh brothers, where art thou?
01/10/02: Air on the side of caution
01/04/02: Blacks seeing red at Harvard
01/02/02: Clinton's campaign continues
12/26/01: A tale of two exhibitions
12/24/01: Taliban Idyll
12/19/01: Right is right
12/17/01: Hillary strikes out
12/13/01: Lost files, lost presidency
12/10/01: Revolutionaries never grow up
12/05/01: Immigration reform talk is not just for 'haters' anymore
12/03/01: A new symbol of justice
11/30/01: Beyond morality
11/26/01: Can't keep a good man down
11/20/01: Tough talk at the United Nations
11/19/01: Hollywood's other battle
11/14/01: What's the matter with Sara Jane?
11/09/01: A beef with bin Laden's Beef Noodles
11/07/01: Facing up to the FBI's past mistakes
11/02/01: A school that teaches patriots to shutup
10/30/01: The gap between Islam and peace
10/26/01: The ties that bind (and gag)
10/24/01: This war is more than Afghanistan
10/22/01: The fatuous fatwa
10/19/01: Left out
10/16/01: Whose definition of terrorism?
10/11/01: Post-stress disorder
10/08/01: How the West has won
10/01/01: Good, bad or ... diplomacy
09/28/01: Drawing a line in stone
09/21/01: Prejudice or prudence?
09/14/01: When our dead will finally rest in hallowed ground
09/07/01: We want our #$%^&*() audience back!
08/24/01: The transformation from Green Mountain State to Green Activist State is all but complete
08/17/01: Enlightenment at Yale
08/10/01: From oppressors to victims, a metamorphosis
08/03/01: Opening the dormitory door: College romance in the New Century
08/01/01: How-To Hackdom: The dubious art of writing books about writing books
07/20/01: Hemming about Hemmings
07/13/01: Justice has not been served in the Loiuma police brutality case
06/22/01: When PC parades are too 'mainstream'
06/22/01: When "viewpoint discrimination" in our schools was not nearly so gnarly a notion
06/15/01: Lieberman flaunts mantle of perpetual aggrievement
06/07/01: Is graciousness the culprit?
06/01/01: The bright side of the Jeffords defection
05/29/01: Campus liberals should be more careful
05/18/01: 'Honest Bill' Clinton and other Ratheresian Logic
05/11/01: Dodging balls, Bugs, and 'brilliance'
05/04/01: Foot in mouth disease and little lost Tories
04/20/01:The last classic Clinton cover-up
04/20/01: D-Day, Schmee-Day
04/06/01: For heaven's sake, a little decency!
03/30/01: The sweet sound of slamming doors and clucking feminists
03/23/01: America's magazines and the 'ick-factor'
03/09/01: Felony neglect
03/02/01: Who's sorry now?
02/23/01: 'Ecumenical niceness' and other latter-day American gifts to the world
02/16/01: Elton and Eminem: Royal dirge-icist meets violent fantasist
02/12/01: If only ...

© 2001, Diana West