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Torch Song; All About Us (and a Little About Me)


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Jonah Goldberg

TORCH SONG Senator Robert Torricelli is the Vizzini of American politics.

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(Remember: the Wallace Shawn character from The Princess Bride.) His most famous line was, “Never go in against a Sicilian, when death is on the line!” But only slightly less well-known is his exchange with Princess Buttercup, which is far more applicable for the esteemed senator:

Vizzini: A word, my lady. We are but poor, lost circus performers. Is there a village nearby?

Buttercup: There is nothing nearby…. Not for miles.

Vizzini: Then there will be no one to hear you scream!

Robert Torricelli, this small, beady, toady man is merciless, smart, pompous, vindictive, narcissistic, conniving, mercenary, and opportunistic. Sorry for beating around the bush. I guess what I’m trying to say is that he is the greasy gunk that accumulates in the garbage disposal of democracy.

During the Clinton scandals — whoops, sorry, need to be more specific: During the finance and low-pants scandals — Robert Torricelli was the president’s biggest defender. He accused his enemies of being crude conspirators. He threatened to have the government go after The American Spectator. He trafficked in every possible rumor that could discredit the integrity of the Starr investigation. Of course, that wasn’t difficult since he could just copy them by hand from Joe Conason’s column.

As the impeachment trial wound down, he repeated his poll-tested mantra over and over again: “We need to get back to the business of the American people.” He listed all of the wonderful things America was missing because of impeachment and he suggested we’d have them the moment the Republicans could get off their jihad. So when the president was acquitted by the Senate, what was the first and only item on his agenda for the American people? Hillary Clinton for the Senate. He spent weeks shoving his face into cameras the way bears look through your car window at wildlife theme parks. It was all he could talk about. So much for the business of the American people.

Anyway, nobody wants to go back through all that impeachment stuff. That is, no one but the “Torch.” Yesterday, on Meet the Press, reacting to the defeat of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Torricelli thundered, “This was a second vote on impeachment. It was people with such a blind rage about Bill Clinton that it was embarrass [him] at any cost [sic]. But the cost isn’t Bill Clinton’s. The cost is the security of the United States.”

While Bill Clinton was at least being cute and coy when he suggested the Republicans were willing to put the nation’s well-being on the back burner, the Torch made a forthright accusation against his colleagues in the Senate. And we’re not talking about the “let’s-fully-fund-head-start” sort of “well-being,” we’re talking about risking the lives of millions of people and having the rest of us look like glow-in-the-dark Silly Putty. And according to Torricelli, Republicans knowingly invited this fate out of spite. After all, he simply asserted that no good-faith argument could be offered against the treaty. “I don’t think on the merits people could argue that the United States … shouldn’t have a treaty.”

“I believe now Republican senators have bought responsibility for the North Koreans and the Iranians and the Iraqis in the next decade,” Torricelli ranted. These rogue nations “will almost assuredly…continue now with nuclear programs and may test a weapon.”

Now, these “rogue” nations are called rogues for a reason. And it’s not because they are, to a man, peopled with citizens who look like Lorenzo Lamas. They are rogue nations because they are run by people who either A) refuse to cooperate with the “international community, or B) try to bleed lucre out of countries by making promises they never intend to keep.

Not that Torricelli cares about that. He doesn’t even care about the fact that the nations he listed aren’t signatories to the treaty in the first place. How exactly is our refusal to sign a treaty these nations never signed going to encourage them to violate it? No, Torricelli only cares about getting more Democrats elected and he is using the “partisanship” card — again — to do it.

Of course, this Democratic gambit of voting or maneuvering in lockstep against any positive measure Republicans take and then claiming the other side is being partisan has been getting very tired indeed. But rather than discard it, the Democrats, as a matter of policy, have ratcheted it up. Earlier this month they accused GOP senators of being racists for refusing to confirm a black judge. Now they’re accusing half of the U. S. senators of being essentially traitors. What’s next? Saying Republicans are running a kiddie-porn ring in the Senate cloakroom? Even Vizzini was only this treacherous when death was on the line.

ALL ABOUT US (AND A LITTLE ABOUT ME)
As some of you, hopefully lots of you, have seen by now, National Review Online has been redesigned. It is a work in progress. We have big, huge, Jonah’s belly-sized plans in the works. In the meantime, we would be delighted to hear what you think about it. Are the fonts too big? Too small? Are the links helpful? Is the nudity tasteful and integral to the plot? Let us know.

And finally, readers often tell me that I should let them know in advance when I’m in their neck of the woods. Well, tomorrow I will be speaking at Southwestern Missouri State University. I will be appearing with an assortment of people who, let’s just say, I disagree with. This is my first gig on the college speaking tour and conceivably my last.



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