Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sunday Funny Papers

An Enticing Book Review
Sunday’s Boston Globe features a book review by former Globe Washington bureau chief David Shribman of “Churchill and America” by Martin Gilbert, who is Churchill’s official biographer. Shribman startles me with this comparison:

The relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill was the centerpiece of ''No Ordinary Time," Doris Kearns Goodwin's remarkable portrait of the Roosevelt household during the war. But the Goodwin book is only one leg of the stool of understanding this relationship. The six volumes of Churchill's World War II history (the matched set that sits on your parents' bookshelf but that you, missing one of the great reading experiences of our time, sadly have never examined) constitute the second leg. Gilbert's new work is the third.

This is very high praise for Gilbert and amazingly high praise for Goodwin. I am not familiar with either the first or third works he mentions, but my experience of the second exactly matches Shribman’s description, save that I did steal the books from my parents and read the entire work. It was an education in itself, and changed my perspective of 20th century history permanently. Hmmm. Shribman certainly knows how to raise expectations for these two books. I’m very curious.

An Empty Gesture
Joan Vennochi, the “honest Democrat” looses her wrath at both Massachusetts Senators for their futile engagement in the pending filibuster of the Alito nomination.

Alito is conservative. But radical? The Democrats failed to make the case during hearings which proved only one thing beyond a reasonable doubt: their own boorishness.

I did not watch the Judiciary hearings (Deo Gratias for my day job!), but I’ll take Joan’s word that the Senators attacking Alito behaved like boors. The descriptions of their behavior in the Globe news reports were much more nuanced, shall we say. Perhaps this is another case of the OpEds being more faithful to the truth than the news sections. Again Joan:

Calling for a filibuster is a late, blatant bow to the left. It seemed more theatrical than realistic. Still, any such bowing from Massachusetts helps the Bush administration. ''Bring it on," chortled the Wall Street Journal after Kerry announced his effort to rally fellow Democrats from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. There, the Journal snidely observed, he was ''communing with his political base."

Yes. Senator Kerry can’t pass up an opportunity to receive some stroking from foreign leaders, can he? The why of Kerry’s move is explained not in Joan’s column, but in another news story on the filibuster attempt, which reports reasons that the Junior Senator from New York is also signing up as a filibusterer:

Analysts said Clinton had little choice but to back the filibuster, given Kerry's announcement that he was reviving the effort to block Alito.

While Clinton has been shifting her rhetoric to the center on abortion, she cannot afford to let a possible campaign adversary outflank her on the left among liberals who favor abortion rights, Jennifer Duffy, who monitors the Senate for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, told Newsday.

''It's an empty gesture," Duffy said of Clinton's announcement. ''What Democratic primary voter is going to vote for her if she didn't do everything to oppose Alito? . . . She had to join John Kerry."

With over 2 years before the first presidential caucuses and primaries, to see such jostling with so long left in Bush’s term is encouraging for Republicans, as it may indicate much more of this public foolishness to follow. Besides coveting Bush’s office, both Senators have in common a surplus of personal vanity, even by the lofty standards of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

Vanity of Vanities
Speaking of vanity, should one of our Senators retire (or more likely be retired involuntarily by the Almighty) a bumper crop of equally unappealing and very ambitious Massachusetts congressmen is will engage in a struggle to claim the vacancy. One such is Representative Marty Meehan, whose staff is quite willing to airbrush history in favor of their employer. This week it was revealed (and later admitted) that a staffer for Meehan had been removing unflattering yet factual material from Wikipedia’s article about the Congressman, including references to his 1993 pledge to serve in Congress for no more 10 years. The Globe article mentioning this is merely an AP story, while the real work reporting this unflattering incident was done by the Lowell Sun. The Congressman’s Wikipedia entry is now repaired, and now includes mention of the staffer’s folly.

Fitting.

Thanks for reading, and have a good week.

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