Jewish World Review August 17, 2001/28 Menachem-Av, 5761


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Consumer Reports

A fella's got to make a living -- ALAN DERSHOWITZ, the repulsive Harvard professor and professional enemy of the Supreme Court, has outdone himself. Last week, as if lawyers needed any more bad publicity, the man who insists weekly on television that George W. Bush stole the 2000 election signed on to the appeal team for convicted Pan Am-103 bomber Abdelbasset al-Megrahi. I doubt that the shameless Dershowitz, who's also collected fees for his legal work on behalf of humanitarians such as O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bulow, realizes that his rancid lust for headlines damages the credibility of his shilling on behalf of the Democratic Party. It goes without saying that the elite media has barely registered a peep of disapproval, but just imagine the outcry if, say, James Baker had consulted with Timothy McVeigh's lawyers?

The New York Post's Steve Dunleavy, the Guinness-for-a-pre-lunch-lift scattershot columnist, is okay in my book, even if a maudlin sentiment often obscures his blunt pieces defending the city's cops and firemen. He can get a little screwy about politics, however. Last Sunday, while making the sensible case that mayoral candidate "Mike" Bloomberg is entitled to spend however much of his fortune he desires (some $17 mil so far), no matter how much competitors like Fernando Ferrer whine, Dunleavy came to a very weird conclusion.

He wrote: "A guy like Michael Bloomberg doesn't owe anyone anything [fair enough]. Sure, I'd like to see $17 million go in the fight against AIDS [you're reaching there, Steverino], but Bloomberg is a noted philanthropist, and he gave it at the office. The tragedy is that this giant chunk of money-and money for all campaigns-is spent largely on television advertising. The networks in their news programs will thump their fists about Bloomberg spending this kind of money, while the sales department at the same network will rake in big bucks from the campaign ads. Clearly, it's time for media of all stripes to give equal time or equal space to any politician's campaign ads-just like a public service announcement."

Since when did Dunleavy turn into John McCain (or his puppy-dog disciple Marty Meehan, who one can only hope gets redistricted out of his safe Massachusetts congressional seat)? Most television stations are atrocious, but Dunleavy's suggestion that government regulations should force them to waste airtime on free ads is not only a First Amendment violation, but the kind of drivel you'd expect from wealthy hypocrites like Teddy Kennedy or Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

Eric Alterman, the affluent pundit who makes his living skewering other pundits, ran an MSNBC piece on Aug. 10 that was just as silly as anything Paul Krugman has written in the past year. Alterman, allegedly one of the most disliked journalists in the business, is still steaming that Ralph Nader had the temerity to run for president last year.

You'd think that a fully indoctrinated leftist like Alterman would applaud third, fourth and fifth parties in local and national elections-especially Nader's "green" platform that favors birds and seals over human beings-but the specter of another Bush in the White House tipped him over the edge. Alterman broke with many of his cocktail-party companions during the campaign and vociferously attacked Nader as an intrusive narcissist.


He's even at odds with Tim Robbins, one of those talented actors who get mixed up in politics when they'd be better off studying movie scripts. Alterman wrote: "Ralph Nader is back in the news, holding rallies announcing that he is unrepentant about his role in electing George W. Bush to be president. He's asking a million people to give him a hundred dollars each so he can do, who knows what? Get Jesse Helms re-elected in North Carolina?"

Alterman's not even up on current events: Helms is on the cusp of announcing his retirement and encouraging Elizabeth Dole to run next year for his seat. The New York Times, by the way, demonstrated its splendid model of objectivity last Sunday by publishing a photo of Helms in his motorized scooter, holding up his hands and looking like a madman.

Alterman lurches on, making the unbelievable pledge that he'll spend $25,000 of his fortune (the beneficiary wasn't mentioned; perhaps a grant to fellow misanthropes like Mark Crispin Miller, Sean Wilentz and Todd Gitlin) if Nader promises not to run again in 2004. The Michael Moore-populist continues: "Come to think of it, I'd do the same for Al Gore. Anyone who allowed that election to be close enough to let Katherine Harris and the Supreme Court steal it for a guy like George Bush should not be allowed to run for anything more important than worst beard since Mick Jagger grew one.

As a patriotic American [Eric's hip to post-post-irony], I'd willing to pay at least $25,000 to see Al and Ralphie off on say, a ten-year sailboat trip around the world. (If they are worried about their nautical skills, perhaps they might want to invite William F. Buckley Jr. along. I hear he comes with his own cook.)"

I guess the grub isn't so swell on the Nation's troll-for-dollars cruises that Alterman attends, but I hear there's plenty of booze on hand. Just ask Molly Ivins or Christopher Hitchens, the Brit expatriate who delights Hardball's Chris Matthews with his witty Socialist garbage, but will write for any publication, ideology be damned, that coughs up a paycheck.

Howie Carr, the Boston Herald iconoclast and talk-show host, who performs the national service of exposing the Kennedy clan's cradle-to-grave belief that the law applies to everyone but them, had a funny bit about Bill Clinton in the Herald on Aug. 12. Granted, taking shots at Harlem's First Squatter isn't terribly original, but Carr's column also worked in some digs at Sen. John Kerry, the Ichabod Crane of national politics who refuses to tell his constituents the truth: that he's running for president in 2004.

Carr takes objection to Clinton vacationing in Martha's Vineyard once again, suggesting that the nouveau-riche Arkansan actually pay for his own meals this time around.

He writes: "Anyway, the difference between you and Bush is, he's just a daddy's boy, and you don't even know who your daddy was. The press gets it. They know how to play the story. Bush went to Yale, he must be stupid. You went to Yale, you must be smart."

Carr then slips into the distressing tic of columnists (Maureen Dowd, Peggy Noonan, etc.) who speak in the voice of the person they're either bashing or praising. Nonetheless, this is stand-up material: "Hot damn, it's gonna be swell on the Vineyard, as long as John Kerry don't crowd you. Who does he think he is? You're the Kennedy wannabe king of these here islands, and don't you forget it, Jawn. McCain's out there talkin' him up, about how he thinks now he could have beaten Gore and Bush last year... All [Kerry] is is that rich widow-woman's boytoy. That's why he'll stay over on Nantucket and that there other island his mama's family owns. Naushon? John Kerry, big war hero, coupon-clipper, kept man. Kerry's counting on all the draft-dodging reporters to lap him up like they did McCain, as if having those front-running bumkissers in his corner did McCain any good. Heck, Gore was in 'Nam too, even if he did have him a bodyguard, and look what it got him. A one-way ticket to Palookaville."

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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