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Jewish World Review May 11, 2001/ 18 Iyar, 5761


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The Sulzberger Chronicles, Part XXXIV... -- I offer no apology to readers who complain that this column dedicates too much space to the appalling opinions of The Beijing, pardon me, The New York Times. Ira Stoll, whose is an invaluable website, takes on the faltering "upmarket" broadsheet on a daily basis; unfortunately, the Times' power in American politics continues, to my astonishment, virtually without being criticized. It's no easy task to slog through the rampaging hypocrisy of this "objective" mainstay in contemporary journalism. And I applaud the paper's management for so successfully duping hundreds of thousands of subscribers year after year. It's gotten to the point where I just grow numb when the Times' repulsive commercials air on cable television. I almost believe that the only thing I enjoy more than doing the crossword puzzle is actually finishing it!

But back to the trenches. This past weekend, the Times was in rare form, blasting the Bush administration in a May 5 editorial for being voted off the United Nations' Human Rights Commission. Frankly, I think it's a badge of honor, considering the models of democracy that the United States will no longer enjoy the company of: Pakistan, China, Cuba, Libya, Syria, Togo and Sudan. If it weren't for the economic benefits that New York City reaps from having the UN building here, I'd say we ought to withdraw from the wacky, and powerless, organization and let the headquarters move to Paris. Better to endure UN insanity, I guess, in hopes that the collected group of motley countries might someday negotiate a path to reason.

The Times has an opposing point of view. In its editorial, the paper defied belief and wrote: "But the administration's failure to detect and defeat the brewing rebellion among other nations was only one element of an embarrassing defeat. Even more important was the rising resentment abroad about America's often patronizing treatment of the U.N. and Washington's disdain for international compacts on issues ranging from the environment to the use of land mines."

Let's take off the gloves. The Times, the reactionary newspaper equivalent of dinosaurs like Tom Daschle, will never forgive George W. Bush for refusing to be a caretaker president. That was his duty, in the Times' warped world, for losing the popular vote to Al Gore and not caving in to the Democrats' lawyer-driven attempt to steal Florida from Bush last November. That Bush has unleashed a string of far-reaching and bold reform initiatives-whether they succeed or not is anybody's guess, but they're not about school uniforms or midnight basketball-isn't kosher according to publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and his pawns.

Look at the record so far. Bush wins on tax reform. Even if his initial plan is back-loaded, it's a general election promise kept and I suspect just the beginning of a plan to keep cutting taxes and limiting government spending. One of the centerpieces of his campaign was partial-privatization of Social Security-an idea so sensible that only wealthy liberals can disagree. And so last week his unveiling of a 16-member commission to study the idea, with its report due in the fall, proves he wasn't fooling around. He won't touch the subject, but why not also push the retirement age to 70? It's not as if workers are dying at the same age they were in FDR's day. Bush last week pushed for the missile defense shield, and for scrapping the anachronistic ABM treaty, and that, too, is dismissed as a loony idea because it couldn't be successfully deployed today.

(This isn't exactly on-message, but I loved the lead of Steve Dunleavy's New York Post May 7 column, which in a roundabout way supported missile defense. He wrote: "Liberals who turn pale at the sight of a gun have me more confused than a fur-coat salesman in a nudist colony.")

Anyway: It's true that Bush's education package, which included the key element of vouchers, was eviscerated by the Democrats, and has to be counted as a defeat. He compromised too early, and now just a few shreds of his accountability standards remain, even while more money will be wasted on failed public schools and the union-protected teachers who work there. Better luck next year.

Go, get 'em, Johnny!

And the Times is so distraught over the House's refusal to rubber-stamp John McCain's undemocratic campaign finance "reform" victory in the Senate that it's a wonder they just don't close shop for a week and join Taki in Europe. Not that my friend would ever be seen with the likes of Sulzberger, but the boomer publisher would profit from such an experience.

Finally, op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd's sad public nervous breakdown has reached a crisis point. Why she hasn't been sent to a sanitarium is anybody's guess, but maybe the Times' health-insurance policy doesn't cover the cost. Writing last Sunday, Dowd, in an infantile pasting of Bush for his Saturday radio address in Spanish (uh, Mo, it's political, hon; as in wooing Hispanic voters), the poor lady resorted to using capital letters to make whatever point she was trying to get across.

Dowd was annoyed that Bush hosted the Yankees at the White House to commemorate their World Series win last year. She writes: "Some days, it's fun to be the boy toy of the military-industrial complex [now there's a phrase she dusted off for the occasion]. As the president fiddled, I burned. Doesn't W. realize that EVERYBODY in the world HATES us? Not Mexico. Maybe not Monaco. But EVERYBODY ELSE! Even the Swedes can't stand us, for Pete's sake."

I doubt that Israel and Taiwan would agree with the addled Dowd, but why inject reality into her self-induced psychosis?

But this is the capper: "At a Georgetown cocktail party last week, Robert McNamara, the mastermind behind our most despicable Asian policy, told other guests W. had botched relations with Beijing so badly we could end up at war with China in the next decade. He should know."

Of course, JFK and LBJ had nothing to do with the Vietnam War. Those Democrats were too busy, respectively, messing around with starlets or lecturing reporters from the toilet, so "Mack the Knife" called the shots.

Speaking of which, why doesn't someone just hand Maureen a pistol and let her pump 41 bullets into her Swiss-cheese brain and get it over with? After all, to use a phrase from Dowd's celebrity-studded world, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

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.

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© 2001, Russ Smith