Jewish World Review Nov. 9, 2001/ 23 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762


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Dizzy Dowd -- JUST IN CASE you don't read The Washington Times, on Oct. 31 columnist Tony Blankley ran an hilarious sendup of Maureen Dowd, its punch not diminished one iota by his former job as Newt Gingrich's articulate press secretary. He begins: "It seems the major media has put up with this war for long enough. For more than a month, commentators barely reported a discouraging word but in all that time the president couldn't organize a decisive victory. So it is time for the networks to endlessly replay the video of every civilian casualty of war-except those that occurred in New York on September 11. Of course, no media dance macabre would be complete without a hip, snickering column by the New York Times's diva of deprecation, Maureen Dowd."

Blankley's got a few years on me, so I'll let slide his description of Dowd's work as "hip": her attempts at biting humor are about as "hip" as a moldy REO Speedwagon song.

Blankley conjures up a Dowd dispatch from London in the summer of 1940:

"Last night an overwrought Winston Churchill rambled on about fighting the Germans on the beaches, landing grounds, fields and hills. One can just imagine the chubby prime minister fighting 'Jerry' with a sword in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other. At least he didn't commit us to fight on Knightsbridge Street, where I plan to go shopping at Harrods tomorrow. The Germans are coming and I don't have a thing to wear.

"Winnie's mood swings are showing. Suddenly he is filled with despair, but only last month in his first BBC speech he promised us: 'I have invincible confidence in the French Army and its leaders.' Of course the editor at The Tattler told me that Churchill had finished-off an expensive bottle of Pol Roger champagne before that speech. He knows his French wine, but not his French Army... Now, with an army that left all its big guns at Dunkirk beach and a pathetically outclassed little air force, Churchill is promising to fight the 'Huns' as he calls them, until we gain ultimate victory. We know what he has been drinking, but what does he think we have been drinking to take those barroom brags seriously? He is just like his crazy father Lord Randolph, who ended his aristocratic career with similar verbal misfires."


Right on cue, Dowd sounded like Blankley's parody in her Nov. 4 column. She wrote: "Our institutions are lumbering as they try to keep up with the simple, supple, clever paladins of Islam. We're sophisticated; they're crude. We're millennial; they're medieval. We ride B-52's; they ride horses. And yet they're outmaneuvering us. We spend $300 billion a year on planes and bombs and military marvels but still can't faze Taliban warriors who pop up out of the charred earth and mock us as ineffectual."

Dowd's op-ed piece is datelined "Washington," not "Tajikistan," so unless she's privy to the Defense Secretary's military intelligence-that of the man she likes to call "Rummy"-I suppose she gets her briefings from war correspondents like Peter Jennings and Times colleague R.W. Apple Jr. Splendid job, Miss Dowd! On the off-chance you're ever relieved of duties at the Times for sheer lunacy, the Taliban has a job waiting as minister of propaganda.


BILL KELLER's op-ed column in last Saturday's New York Times, a virtual endorsement of Mike Bloomberg, was fascinating on two levels. First, positive words about the Republican candidate for mayor in the Times have been as rare as praise for Colin Powell from Bill Kristol. (It's somewhat curious that Kristol has dumped on Powell so emphatically this year, considering that when his magazine The Weekly Standard began in the fall of '95 it was promoting Powell as an alternative to Bob Dole for the '96 GOP presidential nomination.)

Second, Keller, who lost the competition for Times executive editor to Howell Raines, sticks it to Raines (under the guise of "just one man's opinion") and editorial page editor Gail Collins with his pronouncement that more billionaires like Bloomberg ought to run for office. This is Benedict Arnold territory for any Times employee. Besides bashing President Bush, there's no crusade more worthy than campaign finance reform, a stance that even led the paper to endorse Republican Bob Franks over self-financed Democrat Jon Corzine in last year's New Jersey Senate race.

Keller tries to cover his behind in the first paragraph: "This is not an endorsement of the candidacy of Michael Bloomberg in next Tuesday's New York City mayoral election. For endorsements you have to go next door to the editorial page, where, if you are a candidate encumbered by great wealth, you may be subjected to the biblical eye-of-the-needle test. This is an endorsement of the idea of Michael Bloomberg, meaning the idea that it would not kill us to have a few self-made billionaires in our political life."

Three cheers for heresy at the Times!

Keller writes of his fellow journalists: "Our suspicion of politics is nearly matched by our suspicion of the rich. If getting rich were a matter of intelligence or judgment, we believe in our envious hearts, surely reporters would be in life's E-Z Pass lane. This creates an oddly contradictory stance toward candidates like Mr. Bloomberg: We don't hold the office in great esteem, but hold on a second, Mr. Moneybags, what makes you think you're qualified? If only Mr. Bloomberg had debased himself doing the kind of spotlight-chasing Mr. Green has done, he might be worthy to be mayor."

He concludes: "There may be plenty of good reasons not to vote for Michael Bloomberg as the next mayor of New York, but his money is not one of them. Let a hundred Bloombergs flower!"

I'll bet when Keller casts his vote for Bloomberg on Tuesday-assuming he's a NYC resident-he'll have a good chuckle at the commotion his column no doubt caused among the mullahs who run the Times. And maybe he'll reckon that being put out to pasture by Arthur Sulzberger Jr. isn't so bad after all.


NEEDLESS to say, I was delighted to see the Diamondbacks steal some of the Yankees' "aura and mystique" and win the World Series in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday night. It was a terrific seven games, certainly the most exciting I've ever witnessed, save the Sox-Reds matchup in 1975. As a lifelong Boston fan, I despise the Yankee franchise: George Steinbrenner is the pits, and he proved it once again this postseason with constant complaining about the calls of umpires.

Even more galling were his comments shortly after Luis Gonzales won the championship with a bloop single off superstar Mariano Rivera. (Although I thought it was disgraceful that after the Snakes' pounding of the Yanks on Saturday night a few bars of "New York, New York" blasted from the loudspeakers in Phoenix's Bank One Ballpark. That ill-advised taunt was a poke in the eye to every New Yorker.)


In Monday's New York Post, George King wrote: "His eyes were moist and his heart broken, but George Steinbrenner promised the baseball world that his Yankees would bounce back from last night's Game 7 crushing loss to the Diamondbacks. 'It was a tough loss, one of the toughest,' The Boss said in the Yankees clubhouse... 'But we will be back. Mark that down, we will be back.'"

Back from what? The Yanks have been baseball's finest team for more than half a decade; they just completed a remarkable, almost eerie, postseason run, after sleepwalking their way all summer to finish first in the A.L. East. Steinbrenner will open his wallet, pick up two more high-profile free agents (while treating Tino Martinez like dirt after all he's contributed since '96) and wind up in the Series again.

You can't fight it.

I couldn't care less about the National League, and once the Bosox are eliminated every autumn my attention wanders and I'll wind up watching one or two Series games. Not this year: it's hard to explain, but the Diamondbacks' win took the edge off the 1986 infamous collapse of the Red Sox against the Mets. I was glued to the action-every inning-glad for the distraction from the gloomy news of the day.

But my favorite result of Arizona's stunning win was that 22-year-old Byung-Hyun Kim's career is no longer in jeopardy. It was painful to watch his reaction on Thursday night after he blew his second save in two nights, when Scott Brosius clobbered a home run in the bottom of the ninth.

He certainly didn't intend it, but Rivera's unexpected breakdown on Sunday largely erased Kim's failure in the fourth and fifth games at the Stadium. Kim, who may be brilliant in years to come, had to take solace that Rivera, the best closer in baseball history, was also human. The religious Rivera, who has nothing to prove, gave Kim a gift that the young Korean will never forget. As Kim said Sunday night, "I came from hell to happiness!"

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