A few years ago I spent several days sitting in the back of a library in London, reading through newsletters, pamphlets and other accounts of Soviet prison conditions published in the 1970s and ’80s by Amnesty International. Sometimes these reports were remarkably detailed, testifying to the extraordinary ability of prisoners to smuggle out their stories.
On the Sunday evening and Monday morning after the French voters’ definitive non to the European constitution, the French president worked the phones.
She looked nice, Laura Bush, in her black veil and modest dress, touring the Dome of the Rock, smiling sweetly at the protesters outside. She sounded nice, too, in her keynote speech at the Dead Sea in Jordan.
“It’s appalling that this story got out there,” said the secretary of state. “Shaky from the very get-go,” thundered the White House spokesman. “We’ve not found any wrongdoing on the part of U.S. servicemembers,” declared the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Outrage filled the airwaves this week as administration officials took turns denouncing Newsweek’s brief …
“It just offends me that the president of the United States is, directly or indirectly, attacking his own country in a foreign land.” That was 1998. The speaker, Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), was then House majority whip. The president was Bill Clinton, who had “attacked his own country” while in Uganda.
To the British reading public of the mid-19th century, the story was a shocking one: A woman left her fiance standing at the altar after an unexpected revelation, ran away without a penny, threw herself on the mercy of strangers — and then ultimately returned.
Try, if you can, to picture the scene. A vast crowd in Red Square: Lenin’s tomb and Stalin’s memorial in the background. Soldiers march in goose step behind rolling tanks, and the air echoes with martial music, occasionally drowned out by the whine of fighter jets.
After the dust has settled — after the processions are over and the Masses have been said, after the new pope has accustomed himself to new apartments, new tasks, new vestments — Benedict XVI will face an extraordinary list of problems, ranging from the bioethical to the geopolitical. But for this German pope, among his …
“It just breaks my heart when I think of American citizens having to go to Switzerland or Mexico to get the drugs and devices they need to stay alive because the Washington bureaucracy won’t approve them.” — Rep. Thomas Bliley (R-Va.), 1995 “When the FDA approves a drug, it should be a Good Housekeeping seal …
If you’ve been watching television or reading newspapers at all over the past week, it would have been difficult not to learn that the late Pope John Paul II helped “defeat” communism. The pope has been said to have “sparked the fall of communism,” to have “stared down communism” or to have “championed communism’s collapse.”