Jewish World Review March 8, 2002 / 24 Adar 5762

Clarence Page

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Consumer Reports

A short list of losers to be left behind -- IT is both chilling and reassuring to hear that President Bush has been moving a "shadow government" of senior managers in and out of secret underground sites ever since Sept. 11.

It is reassuring to know that if, Heaven forbid, the nation's capital gets creamed by a super-Big-Gulp-sized terrorist attack, the White House is taking steps to preserve the American way of life.

At the same time, it is chilling to think that, after years of wondering whether the sole survivors of a post-war world might be cockroaches, the only survivors actually might be federal bureaucrats.

The Bush administration has been deploying about 100 top officials from every executive branch department to live and work inside secret underground sites somewhere on the East Coast ever since the morning of the Sept. 11 hijackings, according to reports.

Key congressional leaders were not upset to hear that the president is doing this. They were upset that they weren't let in on it before reporters asked them about it.

"I think the time has come for us to be asking a lot more questions," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said on NBC's "Meet the Press.

Right. Questions like, "Where's my bunk?"

I guess we should not be surprised that the White House would want to keep a lid on its secret cave schemes. After all, if you let the Congress and the Supreme Court in on the plan, pretty soon everybody wants to know what's going on.

And here we thought Vice President Cheney was the only key official who constantly was getting whisked away to a "secure undisclosed location."

Depending on our level of alertness, preserving possible custodians of the American way of life in secure undisclosed locations could become a trend.

Major news media, for example, might already be squirreling away a cave full of shadow grouches of the right-wing and left-wing persuasions, so the nation's endless supply of punditry and pontification will not lose its ample wind. (I would volunteer, but I fear that someone would seal off the cave.)

On the culture side, who knows? The movie industry may already have a secret "Shadow Hollywood" somewhere up in the California mountains to make sure the nation's 14-year-old boys will not suffer a gap in the supply of new movies targeted to them.

Plus, the name "Shadow Hollywood" could be used to help fill the nation's hunger for restaurants with silly themes.

The NFL and NBA may already have shadow leagues warming up in a secure location in case of a terror attack or a prolonged labor dispute, whichever comes first.

Each of us has ideas as to who belongs at the top of the list of those we'd like to stick around and preserve the American way of life. It is even easier, after a glance at recent news, to think of who belongs on the bottom of the list.

Here are a few of my nominees for my Bottom-Feeding Losers List of those whose woebegone ways we least need to preserve:

  • Monica Lewinsky. After watching a few minutes of her HBO special, in which she chattered on and on about how she wishes everybody would just leave her alone, I was ready to help grant her wish. I turned off the television.

  • Paula Jones and Tonya Harding. Just when we thought we had enough of the former sexual harassment plaintiff and the former figure-skating tabloid queen, Fox Television has booked them to punch each other out on "Celebrity Boxing," which airs March 13.

    Jones agreed to step in after Amy Fisher, the ex-convict "Long Island Lolita" dropped out. That burst of good judgment grants Fisher a reprieve from my Losers List, at least for now. Maybe the dear girl is on her way to rehabilitation after all.

  • David Brock. Yes, after famously trashing Anita Hill and Bill Clinton as a reporter and author in the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, he's now renounced the right and his own writing to become a New York liberal who invites you to read about his fascinating life in his $26 book. I hope it answers the big question: Why should anybody trust him now?

  • O.J. Simpson. In his latest incarnation, he is hosting hip-hop concerts around the country. In Cincinnati last weekend he defended rap music against its many critics, saying, "I know something about bad raps." Right. I ask you, is this the man you want for a bunkmate in an undisclosed location?

  • Anonymous. I don't know who the unnamed lightweight ABC executive was who suggested to The New York Times that Ted Koppel's "Nightline," which the network suits are trying to replace with David Letterman, had "lost its relevance." But, whoever they were, they belong on my Losers List.

Yes, folks like these have helped make the American way of life what it is today. Too bad.

But there's always hope. We Americans are pretty good at learning from our mistakes.

Comment on JWR contributor Clarence Page's column by clicking here.


03/05/02: Revenge of the 'mediasaurus'
02/26/02: Jihads aren't just for Muslims
02/26/02: It's hard to be 'objective' during wartime
02/19/02: Hollywood's new villain: Your HMO
02/12/02: Father of 'Manchild' leaves lasting message
02/08/02: $nookering the reparations crowd
01/31/02: Prisoners of a War of Words
01/29/02: One more Enron woe: Al Sharpton & company
01/25/02: Searching for slaves in bin Laden's attic
01/22/02: Andrew Young's newest 'friend'
01/08/02: Hard-earned lessons from 9-11
12/18/01: Whatever happened to questions about the birds and the bees?
12/14/01: The "White Negro" Taliban?
12/07/01: Jackson's turn to gloat
11/27/01: Friendly warning from a lover of liberty
11/21/01: The face of hunger is changing
11/15/01: Our troubled sense of trust
11/08/01: Lessons about terror from the 'hood
11/06/01: Getting used to the 'new normal'
11/02/01: Wicked ways to make them talk
10/30/01: It's not just about bin Laden
10/26/01: More than mail fell between the cracks
10/23/01: Terrorists threaten urban recovery, too
10/18/01: Sometimes, assassination warranted
10/15/01: Self-censorship rises again
10/12/01: Contradictions illustrate the complicated nature of the new terrorism
10/05/01: Look who's 'profiling' now
10/01/01: Don't trash liberty to save it
09/28/01: Life, love and cell phones during wartime
09/24/01: How to catch an elusive terrorist
09/21/01: The war I was waiting for
09/17/01: When rage turns to hate
09/13/01: Terror attack tests US, let's give right response
09/06/01: U.S. should have stayed and argued
09/04/01: Columbine killer's parents get upclose and personal
08/31/01: Virtual kids? Log me out
08/28/01: Two Africans, one black, one white, same fight
08/23/01: Sharpton for president
08/20/01: Shaking up the rules on keeping secrets
08/16/01: Bush's u-turn on racial goals
08/09/01: Outsider Bubba comes 'in' again
08/06/01: Not ready for 'color-blindness' yet
08/02/01: Immigration timing couldn't be better
07/26/01: Summer of Chandra: An international traveler's perspective
07/17/01: Overthrowing a régime is only the beginning
07/10/01: Big Brother is watching you, fining you
07/05/01: Can blacks be patriotic? Should they be?
06/19/01: Get 'real' about marriage
06/12/01: Amos, Andy and Tony Soprano
06/07/01: Getting tough with the Bush Twins
06/05/01: Bringing marriage back into fashion
05/31/01: "Ken" and "Johnnie": The odd-couple legal team
05/24/01: Sharpton's challenge to Jackson
05/22/01: Test scores equal (a) MERIT? (b) MENACE? (c) ALL OF ABOVE?
05/17/01: Anti-pot politics squeeze the ill
05/15/01: Was Babe Ruth black?
05/10/01: U.N.'s torture caucus slaps Uncle Sam
05/08/01: 'The Sopranos' a reflection of our times
05/03/01: 'Free-fire' zones, then and now
05/01/01: War on drugs misfires against students
04/26/01: Another athlete gets foot-in-mouth disease
04/23/01: 'Slave' boat mystery reveals real tragedy
04/19/01: McVeigh's execution show
04/12/01: Not this time, Jesse
04/05/01: Dubya is DEFINITELY his own man, you fools!
04/02/01: Milking MLK
03/29/01: The candidate who censored himself?
03/22/01: "Will Hispanics elbow blacks out of the way as the nation's most prominent minority group?"
03/19/01: Blacks and the SATs
03/15/01: The census: How much race still matters in the everyday life of America
03/12/01: Jesse is a victim!
03/08/01: Saving kids from becoming killers
03/01/01: Parents owe "Puffy" and Eminem our thanks

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