Jewish World Review Feb. 6, 2002/ 24 Shevat 5762


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

The Strength of Bush -- IT'S CLEAR, judging by its reaction to George W. Bush's courageous State of the Union address on Jan. 29, that most of the DC-Boston media elite will never accept the Texan as a legitimate president. I don't suspect this bothers Bush much-opposition from the likes of the pro-Palestine New York Times, Bill Clinton's ineffectual secretary of state Madeleine Albright, spineless European "allies" and scores of huff & puff op-ed columnists is a badge of honor-since he's consistently, and wisely, ignored such criticism in the past. By contrast, Al Gore probably would've consulted seven editorial boards, six Ivy League presidents and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. before making a wartime speech.

Bush just doesn't give a [barnyard epithet] about those pinhead layabouts.

I had a few quibbles with Bush's SOTU-the Crawford Coffee Shop joke is tired; he was too timid about the necessity of lowering taxes; and it would've been refreshing if the only "prop" in the audience was his wife-but coupled with his appearance before Congress last September, this president is certainly the most stirring speaker of my lifetime. What discombobulated the dream-world pundits the most was Bush's naming names: specifically, the "axis of evil," North Korea, Iran and Iraq. Historically inaccurate!

thundered The Boston Globe, as if the President and speechwriters Michael Gerson and David Frum were making an exact parallel to Germany, Italy and Japan.

Bush had the guts to align the United States squarely with Israel in a single paragraph: "Our military has put the terror training camps of Afghanistan out of business, yet camps still exist in at least a dozen countries. A terrorist underworld-including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Jaish-i-Mohammed-operates in remote jungles and deserts and hides in the centers of large cities."

When the President lashed out at the "axis," naysayers claimed it was John Wayne on the podium, trying to score political points: after all, the United Nations might object if the U.S. intervened in Iraq without unimpeachable evidence that Saddam Hussein was complicit in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. How dainty and sportsmanlike.


The American public, if not the cocktail-hour generals in the media, cheered the following common sense that's so rare in Washington. Bush said: "Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since Sept. 11. But we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.

"Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.

"Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens, leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections, then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world...

"I will not wait on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."

On Jan. 31, the Times editorialized: "There may well be circumstances that call for military action elsewhere in the months ahead, perhaps even pre-emptive strikes. Sept. 11, however, does not give Mr. Bush an unlimited hunting license. As a number of his predecessors [like who, besides LBJ?] learned to their and the nation's dismay, turning too quickly or too frequently to the use of force can cost a president support at home and damage American interests and alliances abroad."

This myopic view sums up the attitude of the liberal establishment. Everything is couched in politics. Has it occurred to these critics that perhaps Bush is more concerned about the safety of this country than his own reelection or historical legacy? Do we really care if the French object to the President's "saber-rattling"? And when will the Times and its like-minded ostriches realize that Bush isn't talking about "months," in the war on terrorism, but years? The U.S. military isn't going to invade Baghdad tomorrow or even this spring: it's a huge undertaking that'll involve covert action abroad and intense strategic planning. But there's no doubt Bush intends to take out Hussein and do the world an incalculable favor.

The reaction of North Korea, Iran and Hezbollah after the SOTU ought to put the gravity of an unstable world in perspective.

A Pyongyang spokesman blasted the "[U]nilateral and self-opinionated foreign policy, political immaturity and moral leprosy of the Bush administration."

Iran's Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said: "The U.S. president is talking crazy in accusing Iran of harboring al-Qaida people. Can anybody speak more stupidly than this?"

And Hezbollah's Deputy-Secretary-General Sheikh Naeem Kassem ranted at a rally in Beirut last week: "Bush is faithful to Satan, was his devotee, and is the greatest devotee in a leadership thirsty for killing and blood and aggression."

Aside from the reference to Satan, these remarks aren't notably different from those in editorials written in New York, Paris and London. Which means that Bush and his Cabinet are in full control.


THERE ARE greater mysteries to ponder-such as why The New York Times allowed Yasir Arafat to further soil its filthy op-ed pages last Sunday-but for the life of me I just don't get why some adult men are nuts for video games and comic books. This isn't a criticism: everyone has a hobby, and an argument can be made that my own quirks of coin-collecting, accumulating Mexican kitsch and saving old periodicals is daft in its own way.

Still, when my two sons engage in lengthy conversations with guys three times their age about the latest PlayStation 2 action release or the value of a 1983 Spider-Man issue, I might as well be the man on the moon. Sort of like John Ashcroft making small talk with Screw's Al Goldstein. (The Attorney General's A-okay in my book, but what the hell-sorry, John-was he thinking when those benign statues at the Justice Dept. were covered by drapes? Talk about giving his ill-intentioned opponents a layup.)

A couple of weeks ago, MUGGER III declared Feb. 2 "International Comic Day," an occasion when he and his brother would be allotted five minutes at a number of stores to accumulate as many titles as they could, providing Dad (aka The Wallet) approved. I'm a sucker for imagination, and so went along with the ruse, especially since it gave me the opportunity to scour the bins of Bleecker St. Records (not far from Village Comics) for Texas rockabilly CDs.

First stop was Jim Hanley's Universe, a pretty cool (and clean) place that stocks collections of daily Dick Tracy and Gasoline Alley strips from the 40s that keep my attention while the boys pore over racks of Spider-Man (their current obsession) comics. And I've never seen a more chipper staff: when the boys want to look at t-shirts, the guy or gal on duty patiently lays them all out on the counter and never raises a fuss when either one of my sons changes his mind a dozen times.

We visited Times Square's Midtown Comics for the first time last Saturday, and this is where the adult factor just blew me away. The two-floor outlet was jam-packed, mostly with men who were eligible to vote in the '84 elections. Actually, there is plenty of merchandise to keep a grownup occupied-rare videos of Dragnet and Burke's Law, back issues of Playboy dating back to the 50s and even political paraphernalia-but it's the stock of superhero comics that's the main attraction. It was a riot watching Junior on a stool combing through the racks and getting elbowed by competitive thirtysomethings also in search of some rarity.

As a preteen, I had a collection as well-never touched the Marvel stuff, preferring the D.C. Superman and Batman numbers-and spent many a rainy day trading comics with my friend Gary Carter, whose house on Dumbarton Lane in Huntington was as immaculate as mine was overflowing with dirty dishes, scores of paperbacks, toy Civil War soldiers and dog-eared copies of Life, Look and McCall's. Once I joined the Boy Scouts, however, as well as discovered the Village Voice and National Enquirer, the comics were dispatched to the attic and later sold for a nickel apiece at a blowout 1970 garage sale.

So, frankly, I just don't comprehend adults eagerly awaiting the newest line of Marvel titles. But unlike Kennedy spear-carrier Thomas Oliphant-who last Sunday in The Boston Globe blasted President Bush's use of the word "axis" to describe Iraq, Iran and North Korea, as if the speech wasn't vetted more times than the Rams watched videotapes of the Pats' Tom Brady-I won't judge the motives of these comic eccentrics, who are probably blissfully unaware of the bankrupt companies Enron and Global Crossing.

JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

MUGGER Archives

© 2002, Russ Smith