July 23, 2001
In 1967, at the height of the Six Day War, Israeli jets strafed and firebombed a seemingly hostile ship near the Sinai coast. Israeli torpedo boats quickly converged to finish the job, then abruptly ceased fire and offered assistance to the battered crew. Israel had attacked the USS Liberty. In all, 34 Americans died, and 171 were injured. Israeli leaders apologized promptly and profusely, explaining that they had mistaken the Liberty for an enemy vessel--an explanation that subsequent investigations in both the United States and Israel upheld.
December 24, 2000
ON MONDAY, WHEN the Supreme Court heard arguments in Bush v. Gore, there was a sense in the courtroom that far more than the election was at stake. I ran into two of the most astute and fair-minded writers about the Court, who have spent years defending the institution against cynics who insist the justices are motivated by partisanship rather than reason. Both were visibly shaken by the Court's emergency stay of the manual recount in Florida; they felt naïve and betrayed by what appeared to be a naked act of political will.
October 02, 2000
Olympic Opening Ceremonies are, by their nature, kitschy. And last week's four-and-a-half-hour extravaganza in Sydney--complete with a "lawn-mower ballet" and children costumed as flowers--proved no exception. But this particular halftime show, according to Olympics boosters, held deeper significance. That's because, for the first time since North Korea and South Korea went to war in 1950, the two countries' Olympic delegations marched together under the single banner of Korea.
Styanley Kauffmann on Films: Attitudes, Plus Love
October 01, 2000
Brief Interviews With Hideous Men IFC Entertainment 35 Shots of Rum Cinema Guild David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews With Hideous Men has been adapted for the screen. Well, parts of it have been adapted--chiefly, the four parts that bear the same title as the book and the film. Wallace’s book is a miscellany of prose outbursts, some that soar in known styles, some that fling aside known styles, some of deliberate wildness. The book evokes much the same reaction as does Godard.
June 26, 2000
Ross Perot's reform party is about to do something no third party has done in a century: transcend its founder. And it will be thanks to Pat Buchanan. Although Buchanan won't give either major candidate a scare in this year's presidential election, he'll probably line up enough disenchanted social conservatives, blue-collar workers threatened by imports, and disillusioned independents to win 7,000,000 votes.
October 18, 1999
There's something more than a little disingenuous about the demands for Patrick Buchanan's political excommunication coming from several Republican presidential candidates, not to mention the former "Crossfire" host's media chums. Buchanan's sympathy for Nazi Germany's strategic predicament is hardly new and is certainly not a secret. For more than 20 years, he has been publicly ventilating his peculiar penchant for a revisionist assessment of both Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
Sweet And Low
March 22, 1999
I. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperFlamingo, 546 pp., $26) Barbara Kingsolver is the most successful practitioner of a style in contemporary fiction that might be called Nice Writing. Nice Writing is a violent affability, a deadly sweetness, a fatal gentle touch. But before I start in on Kingsolver's work, I feel I must explain why I feel that I must start in on it. I do so for a younger version of myself, for the image that I carry inside me of a boy who was the son of a sadistic, alcoholic father, and of a mother who was hurt but also hurtful, and abusive.
Exile and the Kingdom
March 15, 1998
Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism By Aviezer Ravitzky. Translated by Michael Swirsky and Jonathan Chipman (University of Chicago Press, 303 pp., $17.95) When it emerged as a political program for the Jews at the end of the nineteenth century, Zionism was a phenomenon for which traditional Jewish life was completely unequipped. It was new and it was perplexing, a movement that eluded categorization in the religious terms and the religious images of the past. It promised a political solution that was neither redemption nor exile.
November 27, 1997
Over a thousand delegates gathered in early October at the Sheraton Chicago for the fifteenth annual Hispanic leadership conference. The gleaming hotel, towering over the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, seemed emblematic of Hispanics' growing political heft. Speakers at the conference included former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry G. Cisneros, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, and Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman.