The Week

(Roman Genn)


This story will sound like one of Mayor Bloomberg’s fantasies, but it is true: There is a New York City saloon that serves nothing but water. While you might expect exotic varieties from New Zealand and France, in fact what the bar stocks is regular New York tap water, purified with ultraviolet rays, ozone, and the ever-popular reverse osmosis. The proprietor says he doesn’t want “chemicals” in his water, though the bar is named Molecule. Adventurous types can get their aqua pura spiked with vitamins, and for those who crave the hard stuff, Molecule offers libations fortified with various blends of roots, herbs, fruits, and mushrooms. Our only concern is that fancy water could serve as a gateway drug. Down a few vitamin A–and–porcini shots and next thing you know you’re moving on to wine coolers, lite beer, and maybe even crème de menthe. And people who pay $2.50 for a glass of tap water certainly would not want their judgment impaired.

To call someone a fox is a high compliment among Arabs, and Omar Suleiman was a fox all right. Head of military intelligence in Egypt since 1991, he was the right-hand man of the deposed president, Hosni Mubarak. A suave figure in beautifully tailored suits and dark glasses, he had an air of authority and secrecy that went well with his job. In activities that were mostly invisible, he made sure that Islamists, the Muslim Brothers especially, did not have their way. He willingly handed Islamists suspected of terror over to American officials for interrogation. Conducting back-channel negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, he was appreciated by all sides except Hamas, the Muslim Brothers’ branch in Gaza. As revolution broke out in Cairo, Mubarak did what he could to make Suleiman his successor, but it was too late, and grounds were found to disqualify Suleiman when he stood for election as president. Avoiding the retribution suffered by Mubarak and his friends, a fox to the last, Suleiman died rather suddenly at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. R.I.P.

William Raspberry wrote an opinion column for the Washington Post for almost 40 years. He was a decent man; in a profession, and a city, in which somebody almost always gets rubbed the wrong way, nobody had a bad word to say of him. More than that, he wrote with decency: A liberal, he was fair, independent, and plain-spoken enough to use that hoariest of tropes, the everyman cab driver, and make it stick. “I grew up in apartheid,” he told one interviewer (he was born in Okolona, Miss.). “And yet it never induced my parents to teach us anything else than that we were responsible for our own behavior, for our own minds.” Dead at 76. R.I.P.

Alexander Cockburn was the Christopher Hitchens of the late Seventies and Eighties: everyone’s favorite British expat and crossover leftist. His Oxford manner made Americans tug their forelocks and propelled his writing into mainstream outlets: the New York Review of Books, the Wall Street Journal. Yet somehow it all went sour. His rigid pro-Communism hurt: He tried to revise Stalin’s death toll downwards and praised Brezhnev’s foreign policy. So did his anti-Semitism: He was the enemy of all things Israeli. Sometimes, to stir up the horses, he would feint right: He died attacking global warming. But wherever the struggle was hottest, he was on the side of mischief and destruction. Journalism became cleaner with his late-career shrinkage, and cleaner still with his death, at 71. R.I.P.

August 13, 2012    |     Volume LXIV, NO. 15

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Steven Hayward reviews How to Think Seriously about the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism, by Roger Scruton.
  • Samuel R. Staley reviews Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future, by Grover G. Norquist and John R. Lott Jr.
  • Scott Winship reviews The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It, by Timothy Noah.
  • Florence King reviews Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England, by Thomas Penn.
  • Ross Douthat reviews The Dark Knight Rises.
  • Richard Brookhiser offers Kerouacian haikus.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .