The week (April 14th): Nobody asked me, but…

With another nod to the incomparable Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but…

THERE IS A WAY to avoid the ceremonial "First Pitch Not Reaching Home Plate" humiliation (with all the symbolic freight that carries), an indignity suffered by Vice President Dick Cheney at Monday's opener between the Washington Nationals and the Mets. How? Ted Guthrie, the then general manager of the minor league Charlotte Rangers, gave me this priceless tip back in the mid-1990s; throw the ball high, and aim for a spot ten feet over the catcher's head. That compensates for no warm-up, the tendency to short-arm the ball, and the difficulty in gauging the distance.

That's what I did when my turn came, and the catcher had to jump slightly to catch the ball. So if I could have been briefed properly beforehand, Cheney should blame bad staff prep for his errant toss. Of course the Vice President still got booed, from start to finish; he is faring poorly in the manly man department (shooting fellow hunters; throwing weakly). For an entertaining take on the media coverage of the booing, check out Howard Kurtz's WaPo blog.

WAS SADDAM trying to acquire uranium in Niger? Christopher Hitchens continues, almost single-handedly, to make the case in a thought-provoking and credible Slate piece: "Wowie Zahawie: Sorry everyone, but Iraq did go uranium shopping in Niger." A must read.

GOOGLE NEEDS to change its "Do No Evil" slogan after CEO Eric Schmidt's lame defense of the company's profit-driven cooperation with Chinese censorship. How about: "See No Evil?"

THOMAS MALLON (author of the wonderful novel "Dewey Defeats Truman") offered high praise in the New York Times Sunday Book Review for Stephen Harrigan's "Challenger Park," whose main character, astronaut Lucy Kincheloe, "a conscientious, undemonstrative New Englander" is drawn, reluctantly, into an affair. Mallon writes of Harrigan's characters: "The two dutiful, abashed and guilty people he's created strike me as the most refreshing literary lovers in a long, overheated time." I've added Challenger Park to my "to read" list.

THE PUBLIC CALL from several retired generals for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation is deeply troubling. It has elicited the standard "he's my guy" defense from President Bush, but the Washington Post's David Ignatius estimates in his column that more than 75% of senior officers want Rumsfeld gone. Considering the long tradition of non-involvement in politics by the American military, the criticisms of Rumsfeld's performance– including his authoritarian micro-managing of the war–reflect the gravity of the situation. Will Rumsfeld feel moved to offer his resignation to the President again? Don't count on the third time proving to be the charm.

BILL KELLER, executive editor of the New York Times, made a solid case for straight news reporting this week while responding to readers this week: "Despite what you hear from the clamorous partisans of the left and right, reporters have no license to insinuate their politics or ideology into news stories. And the only direction they are supposed to receive from management in this regard is a conscientious effort to keep our coverage impartial." It's heartening to see Keller take this position as others argue to abandon objective journalistic standards.

WILL DEMOCRAT JOE LIEBERMAN run as an independent for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut if he loses the nomination to Greenwich millionaire and anti-war candidate Ned Lamont ? The state Democratic Party endorses a candidate in May. If Lamont doesn't get the nod, he says he'll challenge Lieberman in an August primary. Lieberman's comments that he'd consider an independent bid represent smart politics: he's signaling that the party regulars need to consider the cost of abandoning their incumbent.

Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Flanders
All rights reserved

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