GOD’S GIFT TO REPUBLICANS

The pledge ruling won’t last. But it’s a great political issue for Republicans. Notice how the most liberal judges are the oldest. Notice also how Tom Daschle immediately ran for cover. This is the issue Bush’s dad rode to the White House. His son must be loving it.

EUROPEAN ANTI-SEMITISM: Abe Foxman is a bit of a hysteric, but this time he might be onto something. A survey of European attitudes toward Jews found some uncomfortable data:

Among the 2,500 people polled in late May and early June as part of our survey, 45 percent admitted to their perception that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country, while 30 percent agreed with the statement that Jews have too much power in the business world. Perhaps most telling, 62 percent said they believe the outbreak of anti-Semitic violence in Europe is the result of anti-Israel sentiment, not anti-Jewish feeling. The contrariness of their own attitudes suggests that Europeans are loath to admit that hatred of Jews is making a comeback.

Foxman is too blithe in dismissing the notion that disdain for Israel is the real reason for these attitudes. But he’s right to suspect that the extreme aversion to Israel is difficult to explain fully without assuming some anti-Semitic prejudice. More interesting, I’m beginning to pick up signs that American disdain at European anti-Semitism is provoking yet another backlash in the old continent. Each view may help reinforce the other, as Europeans assume that American support for Israel is a function of the Jewish lobby and Americans see that view as yet another sign of anti-Semitism. Not a virtuous cycle.

HOW STRAIGHT IS YOUR BANANA?: Yes, the European Union is interested. Terrorism is ok, but make sure your cucumbers curve correctly, or Brussels will be knocking at the door.

LUNCH AT FRED’S: Had lunch yesterday with Peter Kaplan, an old friend and editor of the New York Observer. We ate at Fred’s on top of Barney’s. What a scene. Almost the reverse of this website: 85 percent female. The table next to us – three twentysomething women over vast bowls of salad – could have been straight out of “Clueless.” Then there were the faces. This is something you see in New York more than elsewhere: older women with faces that, despite obvious surgery, still look mature, but with haircuts that come straight from Mademoiselle magazine. They all look like Madeleine Albright with Paula Zahn’s locks. The contrast is not a good one. A wig might be better. Or some kind of fashionable hair-styling that isn’t so, well, adolescent. Okay, I know this sounds a little catty, but it still strikes me that aging gracefully makes you look a lot younger than the alternative. The male equivalent is cutting balding hair really short. It’s reverse psychology: but making less of less hair makes it look as if you have more. Or maybe I’m just deluding myself.

HOW PHILISTINE IS JOE CONASON?: It used to be that conservatives reveled in being known as the Stupid Party. But here comes Conason with a sentence like this: “But testing credulity to the utmost, [Bush’s] aides boldly mentioned Aristotle’s The Nicomachean Ethics, a long disquisition on virtue as dull as any book by William Bennett…” Let’s put this nicely. William Bennett is no Aristotle. And Joe Conason is no William Bennett.

PERSONAL ADS? Here’s an email suggesting a possible revenue stream:

As a single, female, hetero, center-right, DC-resident, post-grad degree (2), 31-35, visits site more than once a day (also actively proselytizes), I think your reader survey spells selective personals gold mine. Where the NY Review of Books classifieds inevitably disappoint, you could come through.

Hmmm.

BUSH HELPS GAY PARTNERS: In the first ever federal acknowledgment of gay married couples, president Bush approved death benefits for the spouses of firefighters and cops killed in the WTC massacre. Quietly and undemonstrably, the Bush administration has shown that it is not hostile to the dignity of gay people and their relationships. It’s particularly appropriate that the bill is named after Father Mychal Judge. I wish Bush would do more, but most of the current decisions – on marriage rights, for example – are in the hands of the states. The one political master-stroke Bush has not so far supported is endorsement of ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a law that would simply add gays to the list of people (including Christians and Muslims) protected from being fired from their jobs for the fact of their orientation alone. I’m not a big fan of these non-discrimination laws, and I don’t think they’re anywhere near as important as marriage rights. But the anomaly of only gays being exempted from such federal protection is a completely incoherent one. Why should Jews be protected and gays not? Well over 80 percent of the public support such a law. And Bush could frame it simply as a tolerance issue – winning huge numbers of votes from gays, their families and supporters, as well as showing suburbanites that he really is a compassionate conservative. If Bush did this, he would decimate the dominance that Democrats now have over the gay vote. That’s why the far left and far right are queasy about such a possibility. And that’s partly why Bush should seize this opportunity if it comes down the pike.

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