Rudy's Pissed Off

Barton Gellman and Amy Wilentz

Rudy's Pissed Off

Barton Gellman and Amy Wilentz

Rudy's Pissed Off
An email conversation about the news of the day.
May 16 2000 12:25 PM

Barton Gellman and Amy Wilentz

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It's no thanks to the New York Times or the Washington Post, by the way, that you get to see Judy and Toto. (Actually, no one seems to know the little dog's name.) You need tabloids for that. The Daily News has a pretty good shot of them today, but it is wise on this sort of occasion to reach for the New York Post. Not only does it boast a better photo but it adds a magnified zoom shot of a "mystery" diamond on Ms. Nathan's hand. The story hints at inside knowledge of Who gave it to her and Why, but stops short of spelling it out. By the way, for those unconcerned with the mayor's plea for good taste in matters medical, the Post also provides a helpful explainer on how prostate surgery can leave you incontinent and, um, ill-equipped for subsequent affairs.

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And that's not the only distinction between Rudy Giuliani and the leader of the free world. Bill Clinton may have yoked philandering to political success, but who else pulled that off lately? Not Gingrich or Livingston. There is poll data to suggest that liberals forgive liberals more easily for this sort of thing than conservatives do conservatives. Anyway, even if a politician could run on his foibles, could Rudy? He spent his public life stomping on sensibilities to get things done, confining his own repertoire to "sober" and "pissed off." Contrite, or even vulnerable, would be a stretch.

I'd counsel you to speak more softly about the moms, and not just because you could lose your union card. As Newsweek put it: "Don't Mess With the Moms." Remember MADD? Soccer moms? How about Mothers Against the War in Israel? In two years they brought unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon from unthinkable to next month's deployment schedule. Still, I did have to smile at some of the images of the march. USA Today says Raffi (the tot-ballad star, as I don't need to tell you) sang there, and a hundred thousand voices joined in. Leave it to a CBS publicist, Donna Dees, to come up with that.

The Wall Street Journal op-ed page has a darker take: Lisa Schiffren (a mom, but definitely not card-carrying) points out that the march organizer is Donna Dees-Thomases, the sister-in-law of Clinton's friend and sometime counsel of record, Susan Thomases. Schiffren reasons that Dees-Thomasas "didn't act alone," and in fact only fronted for "a White House put-up job." The idea, sensible enough, is that guns are a good wedge issue for Hillary and Al among female voters, and anyway gun control doesn't cost the government much. Then she says the marchers (and their hidden hand) "shamelessly exaggerate" gun casualties among children: They claim 13 kids are shot dead a day, but "seventy percent of the dead children" in actuality are teen-agers "killed in gang fights." Hardly "the innocent toddler carnage the Clintons want you to envision." So, dear reader, do try to put this gun business out of your mind.

I shouldn't have started on the WSJ's editorial page. Now I can't stop. I remember enjoying "The Dogs of War," Frederick Forsyth's novel about mercenaries, when I was a kid. Now he's got an opinion piece with a call for ... sending in the mercenaries to Sierra Leone! His point is that U.N. peacekeepers are wimps, the West is "plump and squeamish with wealth," and the bad guys look like they're taking over again in West Africa. Most of that is about right. Remember the U.N. guys in Lebanon, who decided their job was counting explosions and appointed a guy named Major Coward as their spokesman? Still, mercenaries??? Forsyth accuses critics of "politically correct cries of 'Yuck.' " Has he ever traversed a checkpoint? Imagine an army with no accountability, however weak, to a national leadership. We do not yet live in a world in which professional killers, fighting only for cash, are acceptable instruments of intervention. I sure hope not, anyway.

A former Pentagon, Middle East, and diplomatic correspondent, Barton Gellman is special projects reporter for the Washington Post. Amy Wilentz is the author of The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier. She writes frequently about the Middle East and is finishing a novel about Jerusalem.